Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?
Studies show that the Generation Y, which is made up of young people ages 16 to 28 years, is less active in traditional social activities than previous generations. For example, the Scout movement has lost 20% of its volunteers over the last ten years. More generally, over the same period of time, many volunteering activities have declined in Western Europe. Switzerland has seen almost 10% of the young generation give up on social commitment. Even though young people may still show interest in global challenges, only 10-30% of this generation will likely take action and become engaged. An increasing gap is observed between the offers of commitment and people’s aspirations.
On the one hand, as indicated by recent studies and articles on Generation Y, young people today are seeking more than a consumer experience. They desire personal empowerment and the use of their time and energy in a fun, useful and meaningful way. A 2010 survey by the Juvenile Affairs Office shows that 75% of Swiss youth volunteerswant to learn new skills and develop their autonomy andattractiveness in the labor market. On the other hand, at home, at school or at the beginning of their professional lives, young people lack many opportunities and the incentives needed to create a lifestyle of social engagement. The Swiss educational system teaches students how to ensure they arefinancially secure and not dependent on the state, but does not encourage youth to take initiative or become involved in social activities.
Additionally, if some existing citizen organizations do offer interesting engagement opportunities, they are disconnected from youth in their action and messaging. Most CSOs neglect a nuanced outreach strategy due to lack of strategy, time and resources. They rarely tailor communication strategies to their different target groups, and consequently often reach out to the same already active or sensitized groups among society. Lacking visibility and attractiveness, these CSOs only count a few young people among their pool of volunteers. Surprisingly, even organizations specialized in youth social commitment struggle to impact the passive ones. Programs like Infoclick, led by Ashoka Fellow Markus Gander, Ashoka’s Youth Venture or SIFE, recognize themselves for building great value propositions but mainly attract youth who have already realized that they have a role to play in tackling social problems and a potential to develop as changemakers. Channeling more youth towards these initiatives is a key challenge to scaling their impact.
Peer-to-peer communication has been identified as a key driver of sustained impact. The majority of young people are more trustingin people from their own generation. In addition, for this generation, “cool” has become a necessary criteria in orderfor young people to take things seriously. Things have to be considered “cool,” otherwise the young people will become cynical. Eventually, large mobilization is needed. For this “Yes We Can” generation, it is important to get engaged in global movements, mainstream trends, all aiming to achieve large impact.
Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!
Designed and led by young people, Jeronimobuilds large-scale collective action to bring about a permanent mind shift towardschangemaking. Through itsinteractive and targeted approach andcreative outreach strategy, Jeronimoengages an untapped and previously passive segment of the population. His model has three main components. First, he transforms thecommunicationused to promote social engagement for Generation Y. The Euforia movement uses messaging about changemakingthat is fun, positive and attractive, and is based off of current social norms of young people. Secondly, he multiplies the impact ofexisting communication channelsby identifyingand utilizing those channels most preferred by youth– flyers, social networks,flashmobs, web buzz campaigns - and raises young people’s attention by reaching out to them at least three times. Finally, he incentivizes youth action through his messaging: Euforiais communicated as “living an experience,”which appeals more deeply to young people than traditional social involvement.
In order to reach as many young people as possible, Jeronimo builds an entirely youth-led organization that is grounded in and directly in touch with youth’s expectations and trends. Packaging trainings, peer-to-peer coaching, inspirational tools and online social networks, he empowers a network of youth ambassadors who embody the movement, create and run events, and recruit those youth who seem toopassive to participate. Designed to make passive young people tap intotheir potential to make change, the Euforia gatherings are “euphoric” moments that allow participants to feel the joy and excitement when realizing they have the capacity to change the world. During his first three years, the network of 200 youth ambassadors have organized 30 workshops and impacted 1,500 young people.
Euphoria transforms motivation into concrete opportunities by being a one-of-a-kind matchmaking platform with existing organizations that offer volunteering work, or support the launch of new social ventures. Jeronimo offers tools and projects already developed for youth to use, but lowers barriers to entry. This is in contrast to many organizations that keep the threshold for entry quite high (e.g. you must design your own project in order to participate). By channeling thousands of youth to existing programs, Jeronimo’s increases the number of active youth while leveraging the impact for other youth initiatives. He has already achieved great impact with 70% of the 1,500 participants who are actively engaged in a social cause as a result of Euforia’s impact. Jeronimo now envisions expandingEuforia at the European level while applying new groups such as older generations and company employees to this scalable model.