Youngzine

Youngzine

Empowering The Rising Generation

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Last Update: August 20, 2014

Youngzine builds global awareness in children 9-15. Through engaging, unbiased and easy-to-comprehend articles on news and events shaping our world, we stimulate critical thinking in young readers and inspire them to become tomorrow's leaders by understanding the issues of today.

Founded: 2010 Type: citizen sector

The Problem

While today's education system focuses on standards and concepts, students seldom have the opportunity to appreciate the real world and the relevance of what they have been taught. In addition to helping students build 21st century skills, developing critical/higher order thinking, empathy and connecting cultures and divergent points of view will be the key to creating empowered youth in a world that is becoming increasingly interdependent.

The Solution

Youngzine, a one-of-a-kind web based magazine, brings current events to children in an engaging, easy-to-comprehend manner. Through articles on a wide range of topics, we help young learners understand the underlying context/concepts, appreciate our world's diversity and accept divergent points of view. By highlighting the social, economic, political and human aspects of current events beyond the blaring headlines, Youngzine allows readers opportunities to become independent critical thinkers. Teachers from around the world have connected and collaborated to utilize Youngzine's safe, secure digital classroom environment to create engaging discussions. Youngzine provides a safe digital forum for readers to express and share their opinions.

Example

Youngzine's recent article on immigration issues in the U.S was the centerpiece of a conversation in a Florida high school classroom. Students from varied backgrounds including new arrivals from Latin America were invited to participate in a collaborative online discussion during current events hour. Immigrant students shared experiences of their struggles during relocation from their home country while American students whose parents lost jobs during the 2008 economic downturn shared their families’ struggles due to competition from these new immigrants. Youngzine articles with appropriate context and probing questions serves as a catalyst for necessary conversations to build empathy while also providing a safe secure forum for discussion.

Impact

Youngzine has grown organically and is used in over 500 classrooms in the U.S and around the world. It is also used by homeschool families and receives between 35,000-45,000 visits per month, with 5+ minutes average site visit time. The Youngzine audience is exposed constantly to numerous social media and networking sites. The fact that young readers as well as classrooms return to our standards based content time and time again is a testament to the high quality, engaging articles we produce. Youngzine received ALSC's Teaching and Learning award in 2013, and has been listed by ALA, homeschool.com and US Dept of ED as an exemplar current events resource for today's digitally connected youth. Our editors are thrilled by positive comments from readers ranging from how much they enjoy learning, to how an article has inspired them to investigate and delve deeper into a specific field.

Full Impact Potential

The importance of global awareness and weaving real world issues into classroom lessons has been overwhelmingly emphasized by companies and educators in a survey by thinkglobal.org. Classrooms in the U.K that have piloted such a program have showed increased engagement and reduced absences. Besides promoting a similar policy shift in U.S classrooms, we envision Youngzine having geographic specific editions to cater to a larger audience, and expanding our Young Editor and Thought Leader series that connect readers with professionals. Will pilot our vision with Edmodo and local Bay Area schools.

Budget: $100,000 - $250,000

Financial Sources

Friends and family, Individuals, Other

Sustainability Plan

Currently, we are largely self-funded with a small part of the project supported by our community of readers. We are also licensing our content to learning solution companies such as Renaissance Learning/Subtext. Our plan for financial sustainability includes: fundraising from our community, seeking grants from foundations, licensing our content to third party users and actively seeking corporate sponsorship for specific content.

Marketplace

News media caters largely to adult audiences and there are scarcely any content providers that explain the background context/concept of news to a preteen audience while keeping the content and site engaging and safe. Besides Time For Kids and Scholastic, a few sites have come up such as Newsela and Dogonews but these are either offline, lack reader engagement or do not reflect significant news. We have partnered with huge players such as Edmodo, Renaissance Learning/Subtext, Knovation and Curriki to provide access to Youngzine in classrooms, and will continue to build on these relationships.

Founding Story

Deepa Gopal, the Founder, was working from home one summer, when she noticed her unsupervised 10-year old browsing sensational content on CNN. Her son had always been curious about current events, and had outgrown the likes of Disney and other online sites. This led her to realize that her child represented the overlooked age group of 9-14 year olds who have the maturity to comprehend events shaping the world - if only there were a news site that catered to their level of understanding. Unable to find such an online resource and recognizing the importance of global awareness, Deepa launched Youngzine in 2010. The overwhelming positive feedback from parents and viral adoption by so many homeschools and classrooms has validated her mission.

Team Explanation

Deepa Gopal : Founder, President & Editor; full time. M.S Comp, Former Project Manager at Cisco, social entrepreneur Anita Ramachandran : Co-Founder, Co-Editor and CFO; full time. MBA; former VC and Hedge Fund Manager, social entrepreneur Sri Subramaniam: Technical Lead, part time, M.S Computers, VP-Engineering at Groupon Future plans - Editorial Staff (4), Grant Writer (1), Marketing and Business Dev (2), Teacher Advisory Committee (2)

Team Members

Challenges

Building Vibrant Communities: Activating Empathy to Create Change

Supplemental Information

On which of the following California counties does your project focus its impact? (check all that apply):

San Benito, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Monterey, Other.

How does your idea help cultivate empathy skills to strengthen communities and equip young people to become leaders of change?

Youngzine opens young minds to the interconnected, interdependent world we live in. We take important news and events shaping our world, and through it help children understand the underlying context or concepts. Youngzine believes that doing so will help the future generation develop the questioning and critical thinking skills important to their future.

A driving force behind our endeavor is the fact that we are living in a global world, where success will be defined by the ability to build bridges across different cultures and opinions. To that end, we engage and inspire children about societal and environmental issues, and connect them with their peers around the world to help them see the same issue from different points of view.

Needs/Offers

Need

Content Writers who can take complex issues and simplify them for children. We are also looking for Grant writers.

Offer

A safe, engaging, unbiased site for children to learn about the world they live in. A great teaching resource for classrooms.

Tell us about your partnerships

Youngzine has partnered with Curriki and Knovation, two leaders in open content solutions for classrooms.

Curriki, an online, free, open educational resource (OER), promotes Youngzine's content among its 9.9 million registered users, to create lesson plans.

Knovation, a leader in search and content solutions for schools, profiles Youngzine's articles in their current events section. Over 16 million students use Knovation.

Challenges

We will need to continue building awareness of and promoting Youngzine in classrooms. This will require us to hire marketing and outreach resources.

We would like to expand Youngzine's content, building features to improve teacher-student experience, expand on our thought leader series and more, all of which will require funding. Ultimately, funding will determine how much more we can do.

Does your project use any of the following approaches to cultivate community members as empathetic and collaborative leaders?

creating a safe space, developing emotional competency, collective problem-solving, identifying shared values and differences, enabling action.

Target Age Group(s)

6-12, 13-17.

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