Students are globally connected like never before. With social media sites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Skype, young people can tour Mongolia from the comfort of their bedrooms, and teens in Alaska can chat with their friends in Brazil.
Yet, as we enter an era where the world is becoming smaller, and vast distances almost disappear—how can we help our young people connect to their international peers in a meaningful way, beyond the glowing screen and emojis? When there’s a natural disaster or social injustice in the world—how can we help our students see that small, collective actions can make a global impact in a clear, tangible, inclusive, and philanthropic way?
These are the very questions that inspired the launch of Students Rebuild, a collaborative program of the Bezos Family Foundation that inspires young people to connect, learn and take action on critical global issues. Students Rebuild provides free tools for students, parents, and teachers to work collectively and see positive change.
Students Rebuild first called young people to act after the devastating earthquake struck Haiti in 2010. The foundation, eager to help restore education facilities in the region, shifted the traditional aid model to an inclusive effort with young people at its center.
Through Students Rebuild, the Bezos Family Foundation offered to match every dollar young people raised for their Haitian peers. Students around the world rallied their communities around the cause through creative efforts like bake sales and rock concerts, generating enough funding to rebuild four schools in Haiti while authentically learning about and connecting with their Haitian peers through live, interactive webcasts along the way.
Students Rebuild continues to provide a platform for young people to connect and make an impact on some of the world’s most pressing issues—from natural disasters to the global water crisis to humanitarian aid. Instead of fundraising, today Students Rebuild asks young people to make and mail in something symbolic to the cause, and matches these handmade items with funding that supports meaningful change. This year we’re partnering with Save the Children and Global Nomads Group to address youth literacy through our Literacy Challenge.
Illiteracy can lead to poverty, low self-esteem and isolation, poor health, unemployment/weak economies, inequality, and more. Worldwide, 250 million children of primary school age cannot read or write—whether they attend school or not. We know from experience that once young people become aware of how deeply an issue, like literacy, impacts their peers, they immediately empathize and are eager to become part of a solution.
We are asking young people to create thoughtful and creative handmade bookmarks and we will match each bookmark we receive with $1—up to $300,000—towards supporting Save the Children’s Literacy Boost programs in Peru, Nepal, and Mali. More learning opportunity than fundraising effort, we hope that young people—and especially the homeschool community—will take the program deeper to connect and learn more. You can get involved in a number of ways:
Free Lesson Plans: Use ours as a starting point or create your own! Help your students learn about global literacy. Who does illiteracy impact and why? What are the root causes? Why is this important to change? Service learning, 21st century skills, socio-emotional learning, social studies, and the arts can all come into play.
Interactive Webcasts: Twice this year, Global Nomads Group will host live, free webcasts from Malawi and Peru with students enrolled in Literacy Boost. Students can tune in, connect, and see what life is like for the beneficiaries. They’ll find happy, resilient young people not so different from themselves.
Reflection: Why is it important to you that children around the world have access to education, books, and quality literacy programs? What opportunities do you have because you can read? How have you been able to empathize with your peers abroad and what have you learned through this experience?
Create a bookmark, mail it in: Save the Children will deliver many of your bookmarks to Literacy Boost students, who will use them to hold their place in the books they love. Make something thoughtful—write a quote, a book passage or note; draw a fun picture. This is your opportunity to create something meaningful to share. The postmark deadline is June 5, 2015. You can create more than one—so get started!
Write a book: Literacy Boost is looking for non-fiction submissions to add to their international digital book banks. Learn how to create a short book or fact sheet that Save the Children might select and translate into various languages for children all over the world!
Act locally: Inspired by the Literacy Challenge to address literacy in your own communities? Hold a book drive for a group in need, tutor young readers, read to the elderly—there are many ways to take action.
Don’t forget—the deadline to submit your bookmarks is June 5, 2015.
Register your team and take the Challenge today!
The power of connectedness and action is alive in our young people. They are empathetic, passionate individuals who want to change the world, a sometimes daunting or even inaccessible task on a global scale. Students Rebuild provides an awareness platform for young people take action and become a part of a worldwide, collective effort to make a difference.