Think Empathy: Establishing a Youth Thinktank on Empathy
This project also has a Changeshop where you can read more about its latest progress.
Go to Changeshop: Think Empathy: A Youth Thinktank on Empathy.
"Think Empathy" is a Youth ‘Think and Do Tank' that aims to foster and increase empathy within Canada and abroad through youth-driven strategies and technology.
About Your Organization
International Institute for Child Rights and Development (IICRD)
Canada, XX, Victoria
Country where this project is creating social impact
Canada, XX, Victoria
Is your organization a
Non‐profit / NGO / Citizen sector organization
Your role in Education
The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with
How long has your organization been operating?
More than 5 years
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Select the stage that best applies to your solution
Start-Up (a pilot that has just begun operating)
How long has your solution been in operation?
Operating for less than a year
The Need: What problem are you trying to solve?
As we head deeper into the 21st century, we face unprecedented challenges and potential conflicts. Empathy – for one another, for other species and for the planet – is the most important capacity we will need to face these challenges and yet, recent studies suggest that amongst some populations, particularly young people, empathy is actually on the decline. While we know some great solutions for how to foster empathy, how many more might be out there that need to be tapped into, tried and shared – including those we haven’t thought up yet! We need multiple solutions for a multi-pronged, multi-sectoral approach.
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
“Think Empathy” will be a youth “think and do tank” on empathy that will support young people to work together in person and across borders using online platforms to reflect, share and innovate to generate ideas, lessons and create new strategies from the local to the global about how to foster empathy within ourselves and others. Existing and new models – including those that have not yet been thought of – will be developed, adapted, piloted and evaluated. These will include creative, play-based strategies. Based at an international, tuition-free, merit-based high school with students from 100 countries, the international element will support comparative analysis of approaches in different cultural contexts and enrich strategies. Lessons learned, ideas and concrete strategies will be shared and disseminated widely. Networks and communities of learning – including with groups of youth worldwide using online technology and multi-media tools – will enable mutual learning and exchange.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities
As part of their curriculum, students at the school meet once a week to discuss ideas and develop specific projects for how to foster empathy. A portion of this time focuses on learning from the wisdom, experiences and lessons learned of individuals and organizations working on this issue around the globe, as well as reflecting on what empathy means in different contexts – cultural or otherwise. Specific links will be made using technology with groups of young people with whom IICRD is working in Thailand, Brazil and Colombia. With this network, as well as the fact that the students at this tuition-free, international baccleaureate high school represent 100 countries, the project offers young people a strong cross-cultural lens. Ongoing curriculum throughout the year supports reflection and students implement their projects during two intensive week-long sessions, and for a two-month period in between years 1 and 2 of their study, when they either run their project in Canada or their home countries. They are provided with a small amount of project funds where needed, as well as project planning and evaluation tools to support their project development and implementation. After running their project, students return to discuss lessons learned, experiences and refine strategies, focusing on disseminating and sharing their experience widely, using social platforms and multi-media. Online technology will be instrumental in getting the word out and initiating an international online community of youth worldwide working together to foster greater empathy in their communities.
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others also working to address the needs you are and what differentiates you from them. What challenges could these players pose to your success or growth?
We do not know of any other organization proposing a project similar to this. We know of a number of organizations who are pursuing projects with shared goals – for example, Roots of Empathy, the Greater Good Science Center, RandomKid – however, we do not view them as “competitors” but as key allies with whom we will network, exchange ideas and learn together through this project, in pursuit of what we perceive to be our common goals.
Now that you have thought out your entry, help us pitch it.
Define your company, program, service, or product in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]
"Think Empathy" is a Youth ‘Think and Do Tank' that aims to foster and increase empathy within Canada and abroad using technology.
Identify what is innovative about your solution in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]
“Think Empathy” looks to youth to create the solutions and be the leaders of this change, linking youth worldwide using technology.
This Entry is about (Issues)
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
The project was developed and tested last year with a focus on getting youth input, establishing relevance, and project design to ensure maximum feasibility and sustainability. Thus, no impact of the solution to date has been tracked.
What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?
We expect to contribute to the following impacts through this project:
- 300-500 young people from around the world are actively engaged in “Think Empathy”
- Global community has increased awareness of concrete strategies and approaches to fostering empathy in a range of organizations, communities and situations, with goals of reaching 1,000,000+ followers online
- “Think Empathy” youth hubs are established around the world, working together to create youth-led solutions for fostering empathy in the world
- Communities where students run their projects are more empathetic
- Tools are developed for how to measure empathy in cross-cultural environments
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
We believe the potential lack of funding poses the most significant challenge to this project in terms of being able to provide adequate support for young people to reflect, innovate, test and evaluate their projects. For this reason, the project is designed to start small – with a focus on one school – and focused on building a model, with resources and links, which can be scaled up and used by other schools and organizations. Linkages to other young people will focus on groups already working with organizations or schools – thus, requiring minimal financial support to enable engagement.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
8-10 projects will be planned or developed, formal linkages with 25+ organizations will be made and 50-60 young people will be e
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Weekly sessions with core group of students will be held to support reflection and support development of empathy projects
Students receive training and tools to build their capacities in the areas of project planning, implementation and evaluation
Students establish linkages with organizations, individuals and youth in Canada and internationally who focus on empathy
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
8-10 projects completed; Lessons and strategies are disseminated using social networking and multi-media with 20,000+ followers
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Develop and test youth-designed cross-cultural evaluation tool for measuring empathy
Students document stories and lessons about key strategies for fostering empathy using social networking and multi-media tools
Students disseminate experience through new and established networks, ‘marketing’ the material as widely as possible
Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world [125 words]
When in Brazil working with young people in 2010, a group of youth came up with an innovative solution for how to protect children and youth from internet-enabled child sexual exploitation – to create a video game for 6-10 year olds. The project helped pull together the right players and funded this initiative, which is being tested and piloted now, with the promise of educating hundreds of thousands of children at risk. It made me realize that young people have the solutions within them for the most daunting challenges they will face in their lifetimes, and that it is through listening to them, working with them and supporting them to actualize their visions and strategies that we can begin to hope to solve the world’s greatest challenges.
Tell us about your partnerships
IICRD has strong partnerships with a range of national and international agencies and organizations, including UNICEF, governments such as the Canadian, Brazilian and Thai governments, INGOs such as Save the Children and Plan International, numerous universities, and national NGOs such as Mekong Youth Net in Cambodia and La Familia Ayara in Colombia. Supporting young people to access resources and expertise from institutions and organizations such as these is a real strength of the project.
What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section? [75 words]
The key lead on this project will be IICRD Senior Associate Rebeccah Nelems, who will draw on the expertise of IICRD staff and Associates as needed. Nelems will work with staff and faculty at the school to ensure adequate in-house support is provided to students. Also, the project will be integrated into the ongoing curriculum provided to students, and students will be supported to lead the project, reducing the need for outside supports.
Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list