Thank you for the questions, Ashley! They are crucial, so thanks for giving us the chance to say more about the core elements/sustainability of the work we propose and how we’ll check impact. Sustainability: LitWorld’s impact is not in danger of evaporating when we staff are no longer present. The people with whom we have worked have grown in nearly irreversible ways--they’ve stepped into leadership roles, become more brave and articulate and now continuously look to widen and build more networks of support and learning.
Our partner organizations thrive on the newfound energy and lean on the new ways of working in communities--these are not skills easily unlearned. Core elements of our work do not involve complex learning or technologies. Instead, they involve transferrable, replicable actions that hold true across all three proposed locations: *We teach people a simple, universal adaptable process of creation, sometimes called a creative process, a writing process or a design process. The steps are roughly ideation, community-based learning and feedback, piloting or drafting, revision, and some form of going public. *We focus on developing 7 Strengths: Belonging, Curiosity, Friendship, Kindness, Confidence, Courage, and Hope. Our goal is to tap and strengthen people’s internal capacities. The result is not easy to measure, but often changes the trajectory of their lives. We see, feel, and hear the participants claim their educations and decide what roles they will have in their communities and in the world. *We help the girls tap into a goal that is bigger than themselves--helping their community be strong, telling THEIR OWN stories--and that is why they’re able to draw on even more strength and concentration in times of crisis than one might expect. *We work closely with local partners, listening intently to understand their strengths and the profoundly challenging circumstances influencing their perspectives. And then we go from there. We teach ourselves out of a job-by fostering their leadership skills, we teach them to train others not only by teaching as they’ve been taught, but by continuous example in their projects, works and behaviors.
Although it still needs more prototyping in situations of heightened need, we believe these are core elements that have enabled LitWorld to impact the lives of thousands of young people, and they are the ones we’d bring to our Strength Stories innovation. Strengths Curriculum and social emotional literacy framework introduced to local partners for feedback. Together, plan teaching. Local partners gather teens in small groups for 7 sessions when they’ll write and eventually share with the community a book or zine of “strength stories”--creative emblems of their inner power. With the support of local partners, youths who have published their stories will continue to share them. They will also teach the same 7 lessons to others in their community, growing the learning, growing the library of stories. LitWorld amplifies the work online, broadcasting it to the world, posting words, stories, and experiences along with other advocacy. Here’s an example of how a Strength Story lesson can lead to personal transformation: In teaching writing revision, we ask the writer to find/circle the heart of her story and then, to put that bit on the top of a clean page and write more about it. The work is transformational because the youths explore as they read and write; they unpack the most important aspects of their lives. In the case of the first lesson on “Belonging,” they name what gives them strength through a sense of belonging--a mother relationship or their religion or the land they come from. They also explore in writing--and sometimes question--their sense of non-belonging: gender isolation, disruption from grandparents’ customs or language. People change as they write, as they share. The stories provoke the change and the transaction of stories makes the change profound. For sustainability, we are in the process of building and recording our exchanges with our local leaders so that they become resources open to all and so that each cycle can build on the one before-eventually putting ourselves “out of a job” in that region.
To track and measure impact, we’ll use before/after assessments, surveys and data collection to assess leaders’ and girls’ growth in literacy, social-emotional skills, and school/community engagement with the foundation of literacy. We created and developed an assessment rubric that links social emotional development to literacy skills and we’ll train our local leaders to implement the features of success. In the case of Paola, featured in our user experience map, we are tracking progress, e.g., in her growing voice in class, increased leadership in extracurricular activities, standing among peers, regular school attendance school and reporting from teacher and family on increasing engagement academically, socially and emotionally.