How We Work
“All too often in education, we are preparing children for “what’s next” instead of “what’s now”. Kids do not have to wait until they are adults to change the world around them, to make a big impact, to accomplish something great. They already have that power, today.” (Kristina Gillmeister, the STEM coordinator of Anne Arundel Public Schools)
In exploring how we can cultivate creativity, empathy, problem solving, and civic engagement skills in students to tackle “what’s now”, Youth Venture works with all factors of the education ecosystem - school districts, students, educators, and parents. Through collaborating with school districts to create strategic plans for system-level changes, working alongside educators to integrate changemaking into school curricula, and preparing parents and teachers to support youth initiatives, Youth Venture empowers students to grow into agents of change in their classrooms and communities.
At the heart of Youth Venture work lie the beliefs that changemaking is a journey, and that meaningful changes stem from co-creation. As such, we invite school districts, school leaders, educators, students, and parents to embark on a 10-month journey.
- School Districts: We work with school districts to devise measures to incorporate changes to support innovation at every level. For example, our work with the Anne Arundel County Public School (MD) over the past 2 years has resulted in innovative Service Learning programs and STEM & English curricula that integrate changemaking across grade levels (2nd to 9th). We are also working with the CREC & Cromwell School Districts (CT) to co-create K-12 changemaking curricula. Read more on our offerings for teachers and school districts HERE.
- Educators: Through powerful in-person and online workshops and trainings, we help educators and schools discover the meaning of changemaking in their personal and professional lives. Because of the strong emphasis on co-creation, teachers feel a deep sense of ownership over the programs they develop with us and the classroom culture they create. Examples of our powerful innvations include our award-winning "Storytelling for Changemakers" program, and the “Dream it Do it Challenge”--Read more on our offerings for teachers, students, and schools HERE.
- Students: We create student-initiated educational spaces through changemaking activities and curricula. Students develop important skillsets such as problem-solving, empathy, and creativity.
- Parents: We offer the Parenting Changemakers workshops and networking opportunities to be ready to support and develop changemaking in their homes.
Over the past 2 years, Youth Venture has partnered with Anne Arundel County Public School District (MD), CREC School District (CT), and Cromwell School District (CT) to introduce the Changemaking Education framework to a total of 90,000 students in 141 schools. We have seen inspirations spread from the individual levels – students, teachers, and parents, to the school system. We have seen educators and parents in tears upon realizing their children had the power to change the world. We have seen a multitude of systematic measures that embody the “Everyone a changemaker” vision being implemented in the Ann Arundel (MD) school district. Those measures include inclusion of changemaking as a core focus in teacher professional development, inclusion of youth inputs when developing new curricula, and provision of weekly unstructured time to teachers and students to work on changemaking projects.
At the classroom level, many students who received Changemaking training have created their own social innovation projects. Team SASP1, a group of eighth graders, led a Changemaker Project that left a lasting impression at Old Mill Middle South. The boys focused their passion for space on building a portable planetarium and developing a multimedia show about stars. Their goal was to create a planetarium program that can become part of the school’s STEM program to get more kids to be interested in space. Under the guidance of the Johns Hopkins University Physics and Astronomy Graduate Student Program (JHUPAGS) the boys built and developed a program using blueprints and open source software recommended by the JHUPAGS team. These students (now high school students) continue to return to Old Mill South to guide the next middle school team to develop new presentations about future Mars explorations.