Make the Road New York (MRNY) teamed up with LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and Urban Arts Partnership to pilot a program called Changemakers, which was designed to harness the power of social media to bolster youth-led social justice campaigns through the development of grassroots organizing skills and creative media strategies. The six-month program aimed to foster the development of social media savvy youth activists, bringing together the power of advocacy, creativity, grassroots organizing and online activism. The program empowered youth to use popular social media platforms – like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WordPress – to effectively build and strengthen on-going political campaigns and social movements.
The Changemakers program is designed to help youth feel powerful. A “changemaker” is someone who harnesses the power of new media tools to bring voice and political agency back to the people. Changemakers have the power to transform the policies, practices and beliefs that affect their communities, by building a united social media campaign that is accessible to everyone. Changemakers have a vision of themselves in the world, and understand that they are agents of change, and that the tools for effecting that change are already in their toolboxes.
Using NYC’s Stop-and-Frisk policy as a case study, Urban Arts Partnership developed a curriculum and digital action plan that can be used to train young people impact the world around them. The Changemakers developed a social media campaign to elevate and examine the impact of discriminatory policing in youth communities. In 2011, the NYPD made over 684,000 stops under the controversial policy of Stop and Frisk, and 90% of those stopped were Black and Latino between the ages of 14-24. The Changemakers program was a collaboration between anti-Stop and Frisk youth activists from LatinoJustice, Make the Road New York, and The Academy of Urban Arts. Youth from these organizations had been working separately, within their organizations, to fight Stop and Frisk, through community organizing and media production. The Changemakers program united these efforts, by creating a larger youth-led social media movement.
Youth participants were mostly young people of color, hailing primarily from working class and immigrant neighborhoods in New York City. Participants attended a series of workshops and trainings, on topics ranging from social media skills enhancement, campaign development, to storytelling and collection. Using “More Than A Quota” as their tagline and hashtag, program participants built a strong and united social media presence across platforms like WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SplashThat and Vimeo. More Than A Quota provided a space for youth activists to spread the word about anti-Stop and Frisk actions, in addition to allowing NYC youth to share their personal experiences with Stop and Frisk.
The project culminated in a multimedia digital pop-up exhibit in December 2013, which showcased NYC youth’s creative responses to the experience of being stopped and frisked. The digital showcase offered a venue for NYC youth to create original media and share multimedia projects via #MoreThanAQuota, providing a much-needed youth presence in the discourse around community policing.
The Changemakers program empowered youth to be producers and active participants in their lives, community and education. Youth leaders further developed their political voices, engaged more directly with other affected young people, deepened public understanding of the impact of racial profiling on NYC youth, and became decision-makers on issues that impact them directly.
The Changemakers program model is one that can be applied across a variety of youth-led social justice and political organizing campaigns that are lacking a social media presence. Core curriculum elements of the Changemakers program are available online, and Urban Arts Partnership plans to expand upon this resource by providing concrete examples and directives for how to utilize social media to launch and elevate youth activist campaigns.
“More Than A Quota” is a new youth movement under the Latino Justice-Urban Arts Youth Leadership Network. Its main focus is to be a part of the growing initiative to end the New York Police Department’s notorious “Stop and Frisk” policy. They believe the youth and the community as a whole are “More Than A Quota.”
This document contains the program overview, goals, essential questions and session outline for The Changemakers’ curriculum which was presented as part of the 2012-2013 Youth Leadership Network Program.
This Vimeo channel features event recaps, short documentaries and campaign videos from The Changemakers’ extensive social media campaign.
This site documents the ongoing youth leadership efforts around racial profiling, illegal stops and privacy rights.