You may have heard of Toronto Entertainment District organization TakingITGlobal (TIG), but we’re here to break down exactly what it does for our community and around the world. Founded in 1999, TIG is centered around its core belief that creativity, technology and community can and should be leveraged to inspire youth to be change makers of tomorrow! Think of TIG as a social network, only instead of dates, youth are swiping for social good and raising awareness for global issues. Through grants, fellowships, and mentorship programs, TIG drives engagement and social innovation, getting youth motivated to take action affecting their local and global communities. TIGed is an extension of the program where technology and world issues are brought to the forefront through the support of thousands of educators around the world connecting thousands of students worldwide.
We had the privilege of connecting with TIG Co-founder and Director of Technology – Michael Furdyk. There is no better way to inspire and share the amazing efforts of this organization impacting 50 million people across the globe than from the man himself! Read on to learn how you can get involved!
Describe the types of programs your organization creates. What’s the biggest impact your organization has had?
Our programs support young people with the tools they need to get inspired, informed and involved – to understand and act on local and global challenges. Both in and outside the classroom, we work to ensure that all young people have a place to explore and grow their interests. The three main pillars of programming we offer are: Supporting youth action & social innovation; facilitating connected learning; and fostering creativity & digital skills. In terms of impact – our programs have reached over 30 million young people globally since our founding in 1999, and more recently we’ve provided more than 2,000 grants to young Canadians in every province and territory for community service projects as part of our #RisingYouth Canada Service Corps initiative.
What’s the best part about being based in the Toronto Entertainment District? How does working here impact the work you do/the people you serve?
Being located in the Toronto Entertainment District allows for our team to participate in local art shows, museum launches, film festivals and more opportunities – ensuring our staff can participate in local events to expand their minds. It’s also a perfect central location for visitors to drop by!
Describe the TakingITGlobal for Educators (TIGed) programming. Why is it important for educators to get involved with the organization?
TIGed empowers educators to bring global issues into their classrooms, ensuring their students are actively engaged and connected in shaping a more inclusive, peaceful, and sustainable world. We provide free collections of lesson plans for every grade level and subject, and a professional learning community – www.innovativeteaching.today – focused on Innovative Teaching for Global Impact. One of our new areas of programming is helping educators bring computational thinking into their classrooms through ISED’s CanCode initiative. Our program, Code to Learn (www.codetolearn.ca) helps educators develop these important skills across a wide variety of subject areas. To do that, we’ve made the MicroWorlds software available free of charge to all Canadian educators and families, in English, French, Ojibwe, and James Bay Cree – with some other languages coming soon!
One of your pillars is Environmental Stewardship. Can you describe how the environment ties in with the other types of work your organization does?
From climate change to deforestation, the future of the planet rests on students developing a sense of respect and responsibility for the world they will inherit. An increasingly connected future requires students to understand other people and places. One of our important projects in this area is #Decarbonize (www.decarbonize.me), which links our work in education with environmental stewardship. For the past decade, students have been learning about and attending the annual Conference of Parties (COP) meeting run by the United Nations, the gathering where world leaders develop climate change policies (like the recent Paris agreement). This year 10,000+ students from more than a dozen countries with collaborate online before the meeting in Spain and then two students from each participating school will meet in person and develop strategies and share their work and recommendations with many of the leaders attending.
Describe how youth-led organizations can use TakingITGlobal to facilitate youth action and Leadership?
For youth-led and youth-focused organizations, TakingITGlobal offers a wide range of collaborative tools to help connect like-minded organizations to share promising practices and form collaborations. One example is YouthMovements.org, a platform where organizations share initiatives they’ve launched that are aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We also have a global directory of NGOs on our site, helping young people find organizations to support, learn from, or even volunteer with.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
After our early years of working to reduce the Digital Divide globally, advocating for governments to invest more in training and access for youth at the UN World Summits on the Information Society in 2003 and 2005, today I’m most interested in ensuring that we work to raise awareness of and address the gaps in infrastructure and lack of services that many First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities experience as a result of colonial practices. In 2015, Cisco Canada partnered with us to lead Connected North, a program that delivers video-based learning experiences to Indigenous students in 55 of Canada’s most remote schools. Our goal is to respond to student and community interests – connecting classrooms to Indigenous role models, mentors and experts to make their learning more relevant and meaningful, providing future pathways to higher education and employment. We also offer funding for Indigenous youth to access leadership opportunities and launch projects that build on their skills. In a few months we’ll host the third annual Tech4Good Hockey Tournament (tech4good.connectednorth.org) to ensure we can continue to deliver and grow the program – we’d welcome our TED neighbours to join us on the Ice for this important cause!
We love the work you’re doing, Michael!
Don’t forget to follow TakingITGlobal on social media to stay up-to-date on its events near you!
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