learn / 2014
My Name My Story
Please describe yourself.
Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)
In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.
MNMS is creating the next generation of Empathetic Leaders by taking our Inspire Empathy Days and School Club programs to schools across LA.
Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?
- Central LA
- East LA
- South LA
- San Gabriel Valley
- San Fernando Valley
- South Bay
What is your idea/project in more detail?
Diversity in LA is growing. In order to empower the upcoming generation of Angelenos to succeed in a diverse Los Angeles, young people have to master empathy, because we believe that the lack of empathy is the root cause of disconnectedness in the community.
MNMS has successfully run the MNMS program in several high schools in LA, and with the support of LA2050, MNMS’s Inspire Empathy Days will take students in more schools throughout Southern California through workshops that explore identity, empathy, and “passion into action” to begin the culture-change on their campus. This is then supported by a sustainable School Club program that works to proactively change the culture of a school through teamwork, leadership & service.
What will you do to implement this idea/project?
MNMS currently has 20 school clubs in 4 states, most of which are based right here in Southern California. MNMS currently offers schools the opportunity to create MNMS School Clubs, host Inspire Empathy Keynotes, Leadership Days and Inspire Empathy Days to accomplish the goal of creating the next generation of “empathetic leaders.”
With the support of LA2050, in 2014-2015 trained MNMS School Club Advisors will lead Inspire Empathy Days on school campuses, providing in-depth workshops that take students through the process of becoming a Changemaker. We believe that when youth talk to youth, they listen, so School Club Advisors and MNMS Founder 16-year-old Amit Dodani spend time training student leaders from within schools to take on leadership roles during the event. Students are exposed through interactive workshops and exercises to the skills of an empathetic leader: storytelling, teamwork, leadership and service.
Inspire Empathy Days are supplemented by Leadership Training for School Club Leaders. What makes MNMS unique is that we provide an ongoing, student-driven vehicle to continue Inspiring Empathy on their campus and in their community. Each school club is provided with a Resource Guide and a School Club Advisor who is accessible for support year-round.
MNMS’s goal is to provide the “Inspire Empathy Day” programming to as many schools as possible; however, not every school can afford the costs associated with the program. Financial support allows us to make this programming accessible to schools that may not otherwise have access to it.
How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to LEARN today? In 2050?
According to Bill Drayton of Ashoka “those that don’t master empathy, will be marginalized.” We believe that MNMS can create future leaders who understand the skills of an empathetic leader at a deeper level. They are able to work in diverse teams, lead purpose driven organizations, and mobilize their own communities to identify and solve problems that they are passionate about.
What if by 2050 we could have thousands of these changemaker stories originate from LA? Imagine a world in which youth are inspired by other youth. These young Changemakers will not wait to be given a fish, but will identify ways to fish for themselves.
The lack of empathy is the root cause for many of the issues faced by today’s youth, like peer harassment and a high dropout rate. Research shows that more often that not, anti-bullying programs are ineffective because most students are neither the bully nor the victim. Additionally, the word “bully” has been used so much that students and faculty are almost desensitized to its implications. MNMS believes bullying to be the symptom, not the cause. Our aim is to solve the problem, i.e. the lack of empathy, by engaging the entire student body, faculty, and administration, as well as the local community. In order to create connectivity and unity, we believe we have to create a culture of empathy.
Along with the impact of inspiring empathy in the student body, the MNMS program solves significant problems faced by our schools: a lack of leadership opportunities, a lack of connectivity within the student body itself as well as between students and teachers, and the lack of a relationship between the school and the surrounding community.
MNMS School Clubs solve these issues by providing leadership opportunities to students that may not fit into the existing hierarchy of student councils and volunteer groups. Students are given the tools to take initiative and pursue projects that use their own passions to benefit their school and local community. “In-school” projects connect students with other students, as well as with faculty and administration. Community projects connect students through book drives, care packages, etc. to the people around them.
We envision a 2050 in which everyone is moved to be a Changemaker in his or her community. By mastering empathy, Angelenos will be empowered to engage with one another and succeed in a diverse world in which people from different backgrounds work together to succeed.
Whom will your project benefit?
The Los Angles community, schools, faculty, students and families are some of beneficiaries of the MNMS programming.
The support from LA2050 would allow MNMS Inspire Empathy Day programming in 2014-2015 to reach 30 new schools that may not otherwise have been able to afford it. This will directly impact around 7,500 students in the LA area and the indirect impact will reach thousands of teachers, students and citizens in Southern California.
Additionally, local communities are impacted by School Club activities such as book/food/toy drives, care packages, clean-ups, etc. and our social media network allows the story of every Inspire Empathy Day to reach hundreds of young people all over the country and world, highlighting the changemakers of Los Angeles.
Please invest some time and read the MNMS 2013 Impact Report to experience an example of what young MNMS Leaders have done around the country. http://www.mynamemystory.org/impact-report—2013.html
Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.
MNMS has learned from, worked with and supported organizations like: Ashoka Peace First Teach for America KIPP LA CADA These organizations are thought leaders in various focuses like empathy, peacemaking and education. Each one of them has added tremendous value to MNMS.
At MNMS we believe in the power of collaboration and engaging the entire community; we partner with specific institutions in LA to connect kids to people in their local communities. For example, MNMS book drives run by school clubs in LA have partnered with the UCLA Olive View Hospital, the Van Nuys Library, the Platt Library, KIPP LA and other organizations and community centers to bring books to people in these communities, who may not have access to them. Other school clubs have read to children in local elementary schools, donated to shelters for at-risk youth, and made care packages for individuals in need- all relevant ways of connecting schools and students with members of their local community.
We have partnered with Ashoka and Peace First. They have been content providers for some of our larger events- including the Social Entrepreneurship Camp for Young Changemakers- and continue to provide strong support for MNMS.
How will your project impact the LA2050 “Learn” metrics?
- Student education pipeline (an integrated network of pre-schools, K-12 institutions, and higher education systems that prepares students for seamless transitions between high school, higher education institutions, and the workforce) (Dream Metric)
- Inspiring Empathy that results in united school communities, and empowered young changemakers that are solving issues that they are passionate about.
Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.
Diversity in LA is growing. In order to empower the upcoming generation of Angelenos to succeed in a diverse Los Angeles, young people have to master empathy, because the lack of empathy is the root cause of disconnectedness in the community.
Along with the obvious impact of inspiring empathy in the student body, the MNMS program solves significant problems faced by our schools: a lack of leadership opportunities, a lack of connectivity within both the student body itself as well as between students and teachers, and finally the lack of a relationship between the school and the surrounding community. This creates an overall culture that is disconnected, resulting in issues like bullying in schools and a lack of communication and/or collaboration in a diverse culture.
MNMS School Clubs solve these issues by providing leadership opportunities to students that may not fit into the existing hierarchy of student councils and volunteer groups. Students are encouraged and given the tools to take initiative and to pursue projects that use their own passions to benefit their school and local community. “In-school” projects connect students with other students, as well as with faculty and administration. Community projects take students out into their local communities through book drives, care packages, etc. that put them in touch with the people around them. The cooperative efforts of the students, faculty and community creates a culture where students understand their purpose in their school and communities.
Please explain how you will evaluate your project.
We will measure three areas:
- Empathy – This is accomplished with participants participating in surveys before and after experiencing the workshops, and at beginning and end of school year.
- The reported incidents of peer harassment (bullying) at schools. This metric will be monitored through statistics and reports tracked by LAUSD.
- Changemakers- we will measure the number of empowered Changemakers in Los Angeles doing MNMS In-School and Community Activities and Projects through MNMS School Clubs.
What two lessons have informed your solution or project?
The first lesson comes from the personal story of 16 year old Amit Dodani, the founder of MNMS. Here is his story as told by him: “I grew up with a speech impediment, and personally experienced what the lack of empathy can do, because those were some tough years in middle school for me: comments from students and teachers had eaten up on my self-image.
I realized that the “lack of empathy” is the root of most of the challenges of disconnectedness faced by students. These include: peer harassment, suicide, drop-outs, and substance abuse in schools.
So, as we developed MNMS, the entire focus is to “inspire empathy” because we believe that we are working on the root cause of the issues faced by students which were just the “symptoms.”
But what makes this work important to me is when I receive emails like this after an MNMS Inspire Empathy Event: “When I heard Amit’s story…I realized that I have a lot of potential to do something to influence and change the lives of others. I began to question my decision of suicide. I came to the conclusion that if I did kill myself, I could lose the opportunity to help others with my story…My story wasn’t over, it just began…You never know, maybe I could save someone’s life with my story. I just wanted to say thank you for helping me find my purpose to live.”
The second lesson that has shaped us is the statement: “Never look better on the outside than you are on the inside.” This statement from one of our mentors moved us to develop a curriculum and plan for MNMS that was robust. MNMS staff and National Leaders all strive to maintain empathy as a mindset rather than a skill. This lesson has shaped both our organization’s identity as well as our interaction with others as we believe we must first live the values we believe in before we can effectively teach them. We are committed to provide the highest quality of training and ethics to every person who comes across our organization and we maintain empathy at the heart of everything we do through storytelling, teamwork, leadership, and service. Our network of leaders is like one big family and we work hard to stay accountable to them because what we teach comes from a deep personal desire for unity and connectivity.
Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.
We have a strong existing network and partnerships established with schools and organizations in the education sector in the Los Angeles area along with an active list of schools interested to implement the MNMS program.
MNMS has existing MNMS School Clubs in Public and Private Schools across the LA area. The MNMS Team, School Clubs Advisors, and Founder Amit Dodani, are also based in LA County.
Once funded the MNMS team would be mobilized to move forward in executing the existing plan.
Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?
Many teachers have expressed interest in bringing our program to their school campus. However, teachers do not have access to funding as easily as administrators, so often, though a school recognizes the need for Inspire Empathy programming, they aren’t able to bring us in. Funding from LA2050 would allow us to reward teachers who go the extra mile to provide character-building programming for their students by bringing our Inspire Empathy Days and School Club programs to those schools who have recognized the need, but may not be able to come up with the funding.
Human Capital: MNMS currently has interest from schools across California to implement the MNMS Programming. Once the LA2050 funding is secured we intend to add a dedicated school club advisor for the Los Angeles market.
What resources does your project need?
- Money (financial capital)
- Publicity/awareness (social capital)