Jennifer Corriero and Michael Furdyk are co-founders of TakingITGlobal (TIG), a Canadian nonprofit that aims to inspire, inform and involve youth interested in global issues and creating positive change. TIG's mission is to create a collaborative learning community that provides young people global opportunities, cross-cultural connections and meaningful participation in decision-making by leveraging technology, creating a cohesive youth movement and championing the role of youth as key stakeholders. Corriero, who serves as executive director, leverages her experience developing programs for youth that leverage technology, collaboration and entrepreneurship. Furdyk, director of technology, works with the TIGed education program and has made presentations to more than 50,000 educators about the importance of engaging students and integrating technology and global perspectives into the classroom.
T&L contributing editor Matt Bolch spoke with Corriero about collaboration and technology.
How are you succeeding in TIG's purpose to create a collaborative learning community for youth?
In the last 10 years, TakingITGlobal’s online community has reached over 10 million youth and has become a part of over 300,000 members’ lives–successfully serving as a global catalyst for inspiring youth leadership, social awareness and education. Individuals are inspired when they realize that there are opportunities for them to have a voice, and that they have a responsibility to use their voice through collaboration to contribute to making the world a better place. We’re able to measure our success through the results of our Impact Survey, which collects feedback from members from around the globe who’ve used our resources to develop their leadership skills and broaden their knowledge on issues that matter to them. Since becoming involved with TIG, two-thirds of those responding said their volunteer activity has increased. Nine out of 10 responding members said that TIG had increased their awareness of global issues and different cultures and perspectives, and close to one-third indicated they have contacted an organization through the TIG database.
What role does technology play in this?
Technology plays a fundamental role in TIG’s existence, as the whole premise of global interaction revolves around mobilizing the involvement of youth through technological innovation. Technology is the catalyst that exposes our members to our Theory of Change, who take what they’ve learned from our educational programs—focused on skill building and training in the form of e-courses, Webinars and wikis—and put these tools into practice where progressive development can occur. In this setting, people are collaborating, sharing, co-creating and learning together at the same pace, which is facilitated globally through our site. Basically, once the member is engaged, we leverage social technology to grow their leadership to be more effective, which provides a gateway for youth to be involved in a broader social movement.
What's the organization's most pressing need?
We need both sponsorship and individual donations to allow our community-led initiatives projects to grow. We’re always looking to expand our network by engaging high school teachers in taking their classrooms global through TIGed, our community for educators with an expansive set of content and virtual classroom tools. We need more mainstream media coverage to help showcase the stories of our members and their contributions as youth to addressing social and environmental problems. In an effort to transform the narrative of youth in the mainstream media, we are working to influence top decision-makers to prioritize giving youth a voice to enable them to realize their dreams. Companies, foundations and donor agencies need to recognize the critical importance of engaging youth and prioritize support for youth-led initiatives.