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Digital Media for Social Justice

Digital Media for Social Justice

Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion

Program Summary

The Michigan Roundtable’s Regional Youth Consortium Program helps high school juniors and seniors to learn about issues of social justice and digital media so that youth can create an inclusive environment to grow in. Youth achieve this goal by using the skills that they have learned to create multimedia campaigns to address issues of discrimination or disparities that they see in their schools and communities such as bullying, religious intolerance, sexual orientation discrimination, and teen sexual health. To date, youth interns have made presentations to more than 4,000 of their peers and adults.
As an example, a Regional Youth Consortium Team at a school in Detroit were concerned about bullying in their school. They developed a multimedia school wide campaign to address bullying and promote cross-cultural acceptance. The campaign included the creation of short YouTube videos and utilized Facebook. This campaign impacted over 300 of their classmates at their school, and improved the school’s overall climate for all students.
The program has had a beneficial effect on the lives and opportunities of individual interns. Current and alumni interns have created the Michigan Roundtable Regional Youth Programs Facebook Page, where they model good online citizenship by abstaining from online bullying or name calling while they engage in critical analysis of various current issues and media stories through a lens of diversity and inclusion. One youth intern credited the lessons she learned in the internship program in assisting her in receiving a full-ride college scholarship. Another reflected that her internship experience had put her far ahead of her peers as she studied social work at a local college. A third intern was awarded the prestigious Gates Scholarship – one of only 1,000 such youth nationwide. 95% of eligible youth interns have gone on to attend higher education.


Fifty youth from area high schools will come together for about six hours on a Saturday in August for a digital learning lab and mentoring/leadership workshop. They will work with a facilitator to break up into small groups by school and brainstorm about the issues of discrimination or disparities that take place in their schools.
They then have a facilitated discussion about the use of the internet. Like any tool, the internet can be used for destructive ends — to bully, harass or make fun of others, or it can be used for constructive ends to have thoughtful conversations and to model a world where all are included and valued. Youth will be encouraged to share examples of ways that they have used the web either constructively or destructively, and how they can use it constructively in the future.

The IT Manager and Michigan Roundtable Youth Interns will teach students how to create short YouTube videos, social media, and other digital tools to help them create a campaign to address the issues they discussed at their schools. This training will include how to frame a message, using camera angles to tell a story (and incorporating those images into the campaign), storyboarding, and digital storytelling.

The last portion of the day will be devoted to youth beginning to work on their campaigns by beginning to create learning content – their digital media pieces, or beginning to develop Facebook content. To close out the day, youth teams will present their ideas to the whole group, and the group will compare and contrast ideas, as well as offering advice on ways to strengthen their campaigns or alerting each other to potential pitfalls.

In this way, youth will have created Social Tools that meet all the Project: Connect requirements. Their tools will help to model a culture of kindness, respect, and safety to enhance civic participation for other youth. What they have learned in the workshop will help them to understand how to control information on the internet, and will help youth to build, access, and understand the web as a place to support interest-driven learning and empower learners to connect in safe ways with resources, peers, and mentors.

The principles of connected learning align well to the Michigan Roundtable Youth Program’s own principles. The Michigan Roundtable’s programming consistently seeks to create a positive peer culture, create connections between abstract concepts and what youth are experiencing in their schools and communities (openly networked), the program creates a sense of shared purpose because it brings youth together who are passionate about issues of diversity and inclusion. Finally it focuses on the interests of youth by giving them the freedom to devise content based on the issues that they are facing in their schools and communities.

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