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Youth Employment Challenge Community Ambassador Update #6

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Shane Zhao is our current volunteer Challenge Community Ambassador. You'll see him popping up across the Youth Employment Challenge with handy tips and words of encouragement – and posting community updates here like a true champion!

Within recent years, we have seen how a new wave of commercial innovations in business and technology have been creating new opportunities in our daily lives. During the early phases of this challenge, it was interesting to see how our contributors had referenced these innovation models to describe their approach towards Youth Employment. As this challenge progressed, it was surprising to observe how our community had gradually moved away from these case studies and gravitated towards building upon each others' ideas for inspiration. Instead of seeing concepts explained as a mix between LinkedIn meets Uber, we saw ideas presented as an integration between the Social Getwork, LifeLeap, and Social Media #Resume, or as a joint venture between the Pop Up Bus, Innovation Centre, and CATHY. In many ways, these are great examples of how social innovation is born and cultivated on the OpenIDEO platform - where we discover that we are each other's best resource for creating change.

OpenIDEO Youth Employment Challenge Team

Strength as a Nework
In thinking about how we have been working together to solve the challenge of Youth Employment, I am reminded of Tom Christensen's insight from the research phase of this challenge -  that "youth are not all the same. One size does not fit all." Often times, one idea or agency alone cannot attend to every aspect of a complex social problem. Instead, we have formed an impressive network of ventures that are tackling this challenge together from a range of approaches in different communities around the world. With an incredible array of 291 research contributions, 195 ideas, and insightful feedback in the thousands, we have built a solid springboard to launch us forward into the next phase.

Pathways Towards Impact
When writing this post, I had an insightful conversation with Eliza Rosenbaum from the OpenIDEO Team on the topic of what's next? I realized that this blog, along with the announcement of Winning Ideas, should not be viewed as the conclusion of our journey to tackle the challenge of Youth Employment. Rather, we are at an important moment of transition towards implementation. That's why instead of dedicating this blog to lessons learned from our journey so far, I've connected with several of our great collaborators to share how they will be transitioning forward. Let us take a look at how Bettina Fliegel, Sergio Marrero, M. Ricciardi, and Alain Maboko will be taking their next steps along different pathways towards Impact.

What is an unexpected challenge that you have encountered during the prototyping process? And how might we best support you in tackling that challenge?
Bettina: Although I have not attempted to prototype an idea from this challenge I do have some thoughts about sharing/using my ' What’s Your Scene? Improv Interview Prep Workshops' idea. I developed an idea during the Creative Confidence Challenge entitled ' Hip Trips,' and at some point I would like to push it forward and incorporate 'What's Your Scene?' into it. Both are youth development programs that involve skill development, confidence building and job readiness or actual work. 

M. Ricciardi: Support in this regard would be working out the finer details (with those knowledgeable about Big Data) and developing a User Interface that can handle the data assimilation tasks (however they are defined, depending upon the type of unstructured data used and the needs of any would-be client /consumer regarding the structured data). I have contacted the team at (the crowd-sourced model that the idea is based upon).

Sergio: Aligning the interests of students, business owners, and teachers is a challenge. We spoke to a business owner that wanted students to compile a video for his business, but as a ‘one-off’ project it is difficult for teachers to integrate into a classroom where all the other students are doing something different. The interest and support is there are we are setting up a project with one student to test.

Who are some of the real life users that you have engaged with, and what are the immediate next steps that you have planned to develop your idea together with them?
Sergio: Linda Sun, a teacher from Pearl Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School, interviewed a few students and one young lady with interest in video editing. There is interest from the business owner to have the ‘film’ project completed so right now she and the team are trying to connect the student and business owner to see if we can make this happen and help define the length of the project and timeline for the student.

Alain: We engaged key local actors in the city of Goma from the public and private sectors to develop our idea of a ‘ Micro-Business Incubator.’ We will convene a Skype call on October 11 th to connect our local group with our virtual teammates to leverage their expertise and refine the component of the Micro-Business Incubator.

M. Ricciardi: As for 'real life' users, these have been minimal (beyond my team members), as the idea is just that (at this point): an idea (a proposed concept). As for 'immediate steps', this would be putting together an 'action plan' with team members and then working with some foundation or venture capital firm (or both) to develop the pilot program.

In going forward, how will you plan to carry on the ongoing collaborations with your virtual teammates and other contributors to further refine your ideas together?

Bettina: In the past I have connected with virtual teammates by email, phone, via LinkedIn and in person as was possible! I hope to attend an official Meetup going forward as that would be a great way to recruit more teammates for any ideas I might already be working on, as well as a way to brainstorm new ones!
Sergio: Going forward the team speaks weekly and shares insight from youth, student, and business owner interviews. We are balancing our full-time jobs with pushing a test forward that we can manage at the same time.
Alain: OpenIDEO is networking with like-minded thinkers such as Uwe Schn (who will contribute to the organizational structuring of the MBI), Generation Enterprises (Paul Petrucceli, partner with whom the MBI will benchmark and collaborate on business development training and mentoring curricula) and  Rehmah Kasule (exchange visits to develop staff and institutional capacity).

What is the next milestone that we can look forward to seeing in the progression of your idea?

Alain: Mapping community needs for goods and services, and curriculum development to develop business acumen of the MBI's cohorts. We believe that learning is a systematic and evolutionary process and as such we will design a curriculum in collaboration with the YALI network/North Kivu.
M. Ricciardi: As for any 'next step', I'm not entirely certain; as Yoda would say: 'Always in motion, the future is.' I would like to see a small pilot program, at the very least, perhaps community based (e.g., here in Seattle). Also: I would like to see a 'comparison test' conducted between my crowd-sourced Big Data assimilation idea and BD assimilation conducted solely by machine-based programs (algorithms), as I believe that human BD assimilation has certain advantages over machine algorithms. this would be an important (prior) step in any prototyping stage.
Bettina: I am excited! Yesterday after reading a comment on Sarah’s Idea ( Interviews for Humans Not Robots) I connected with Aparna. I had directed her to my Idea – ' The Pre- Interview Stage ...' as I thought it might interest her. She will soon start a hiring process with youth and has offered to try aspects of this idea! Great! I put all commenters onto the 'team'. As Aparna posts feedback from her process we can all benefit, as everyone will get a notification from OpenIDEO! We can learn and iterate ideas and in some cases our work process as she is doing with our posts here!

Before I discovered OpenIDEO, I had been swayed by how tech and business incubators have been helping entrepreneurs launch their game-changing startups in the commercial sector. In many ways, OpenIDEO is unique in not only being an incubator that is dedicated to social problems, but also a place where passionate people from around the world can support one another to launch their ideas for social change. It will be these ongoing collaborations that will extend beyond the platform to build better opportunities and pathways for young people in the real world. So let us amplify the momentum of our ideas and collaborate forward to the Impact phase of this challenge. Hope to see you there!
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