The DoGooder Video Awards are entering a new phase this week: public voting! Nonprofit fans, video lovers and everyone in between will be able to vote for their favorites from February 28th to March 10th on the contest website. Out of hundreds of submissions, judges will identify four finalists in each category for public voting.
Folks familiar with the DoGooder Video Awards (now in its 8th year) will notice a brand new category in this year's contest. The Most Inspiring Youth Media Award was conceived of and is sponsored by the National Alliance for Media and Culture (NAMAC) and The National Youth Media Network, with tremendous support from Lights. Camera. Help. Film Festival, AFI Docs Film Festival, the National Association for Media Literacy Education and Nickelodeon.
The category is a great way to draw attention to nonprofit organizations that teach young people how to harness the power of media technologies to tell their stories and make an impact in their communities. "The Youth Media category of the DoGooder Awards not only offers a public outlet for young voices, but also shows the public that young people can creatively and insightfully speak about pressing social issues," says Robyn Bykofsky, member of National Youth Media Network and Director of Arts and Expression at Youth UpRising.
Given their alignment with the DoGooder Video Awards mission, See3 Communications, YouTube and NTEN have welcomed these groups and the new category with open arms. The youth media field is comprised of an ever-expanding and fiercely committed cadre of nonprofit organizations that provide after-school, in-school, and summer programming for young people interested in creative expression, professional development, and civic engagement via film and media production.
"In providing media production guidance, youth media organizations are also vehicles through which young people learn vital professional and interpersonal skills," says Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz, the Program and Communications Director for NAMAC. "The youth who participate in these programs learn to become actively engaged in their communities; assert their voice towards social good; become media literate; and have difficult conversations and engage diverse worldviews."
Aaron Bramley, Co-Founder and Executive Director of one of the Award sponsors, the Lights. Camera. Help. Film Festival, sees deep and lasting value in nurturing young people's interests in social issues. "The world doesn't need any more people who want to use their filmmaking skills for the creation of corporate advertising," Bramley says. "The world needs more people who want to pick up a camera and highlight the ways we can make our planet a better place.
While we can't - as much as we'd like to! - describe in detail each of the videos uploaded to this year's DoGooder Awards, we can point to a few examples that illustrate the potency of youth creative leadership in the pursuit of social good. These examples are in no way meant to be exhaustive, though, so we encourage you to explore the submissions on your own.
Youth media can, like any media, make a huge difference locally, nationally, and even globally.
One example of this kind of power is the work of 20-year-old feminist organizers Majdouline Lyazidi and Nada Rifki, in partnership with the U.S.-based nonprofit, GlobalGirl Media, a media education organization that aims to bring young, global women's perspectives on critical social issues into the media landscape.
Majdouline and Nada are trained as GlobalGirl media correspondents. In 2012, they together produced the "Morocco Protests" report. This report documents public protests that took place in Rabat against a Moroccan penal code, inherited from French colonial rule, that under certain circumstances, forces women into marrying the men who sexually assault them. The report was grounded in the perspective of its producers, two 20-year-old feminists, and also included the ideas of a young Moroccan man who openly and proudly identifies as a feminist.
While the video did not air on Moroccan television networks, thanks to the social media networks of those involved, as well as feminists' prominence across the social media landscape, the video went viral.
It was picked up by European feminist blogs and eventually, news of subsequent protests reached outlets like The New York Times and Huffington Post and in 2014, the Moroccan government struck down the section of the penal code in question. GlobalGirl Founder Amie Williams notes the video as one of GlobalGirl's most successful examples of how a video can impact women's lives and safety.
The youth-produced videos "Beauty is Natural" and "It's My Body" are just two of many videos in this year's Youth Media category that actively analyze and respond to pervasive media messages around body image, skin tone, gender identity, the dropout crisis, or other issues.
Within youth media programs, young people who may be intuitively aware of the impact media has on their lives, learn a language of critical analysis for speaking back through media production. They learn, in short, to become media literate.
According to another partner, the National Association for Media Literacy Education, Executive Director, Michelle Ciulla Lipkin, "Media creation is a key component to media literacy education. Hands on production work gives youth a powerful voice and a chance to share their critical point of view. For us, supporting the Youth Media DoGooder Award is a given, and we are happy to see youth media makers acknowledged for their talents and ideas."
To experience more youth media, visit the DoGooder page from February 28th through March 10th and cast your vote for your favorite of the finalists! (Finalists will be determined by a committee of judges who will identify the four, highest-scoring videos according to a rubric).
And don't forget to stay tuned - winners will be announced live at this year's NTEN Conference in Washington D.C. on March 13th.