The Validation Project
Helping young people turn their passion into positive action.
Website or social media url(s) (optional):
Facebook: The Validation Project and Valerie Weisler
Instagram: @thevalidationproject and @valiswiser
Twitter: @TheValidate and @valiswiser
January 16th, 2013
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)
1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."
I was bullied brutally my freshman year of high school because I was so shy. Kids would tell me to commit suicide and spread rumors that I was mute. One day, I saw another student getting bullied and he told me he was planning to take his own life before I went up to him and said, "You matter". This inspired me to start The Validation Project. My generation faces immense insecurities and self-hate. I vowed to provide a place for young people to have the support, resources, and tools necessary for collaboration to turn their passions into platforms for social change.
2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
Far too often, my generation is described as lazy, entitled, and self-obsessed — which could not be further from the truth. We have incredible potential brewing inside of us, but so many people disregard our ideas as unworthy simply because of our age. This disregard to our ideas translates into an intense, and often permanent, decrease in our self-esteem.
3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
The Validation Project (TVP) is a unique space both by and for young people, providing the resources and support to elevate these ideas and turn them into platforms for tangible change. Over the past five years, TVP has become an international movement, working with more than 6,000 young people in 105 countries through one-on-one mentoring. Following this mentorship, the young people are assigned a skill-based social justice project. For example, if they are passionate about cooking and just mentored with a chef, they will be sent to a local homeless shelter to help ensure the meals provide proper nutrition. In addition, my self-designed "kindness curriculum" is taught in nearly 1,000 schools, teaching educators how to work with their students to solve problems in their community. 90% of schools teaching the curriculum say that within four months of its implementation, bullying decreases immensely, cliques diminish, and students have an increased interest in social justice and sense of self-worth. The Validation Project provides two-part validation; young people learn their worth and are given the resources to use their worth to make a positive impact.
4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.
A while ago, high school senior named Valeria reached out to TVP. Valeria was living in a small village in Peru. Valeria shared that her teachers told her and her female peers that they would never be more than housewives after high school. Valeria, who aspired to be a fashion designer, was outraged and wanted resources for her and her peers to surpass their expectations. We worked with Valeria to launch #ThisIsForTheGirls, a social media campaign that encouraged girls globally to share both why they are proud to be a girl and the struggles they face because of their gender. Valeria's school then approached TVP about teaching our kindness curriculum, which we focused on women's rights. We also partnered Valeria with a clothing designer, and she now attends the Fashion Institute of Technology. Valeria wants to use fashion as a platform for social change.
5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
The Validation Project is dedicated to showing young people their worth. My work is unique because I am living it as I am leading it. Our entire leadership team (representatives of states and countries, Validation Project chapter presidents) is made up of youth. We are proving to the world that young people anything but self-absorbed. We are self-aware and dedicated to changing this world for the better. TVP provides the resources and support to make that happen.
6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
The Validation Project works with 6,000+ teens and 3,000 mentors in 105 countries. TVP's social justice campaigns have raised awareness and $65,000 in goods/services for causes such as homelessness, domestic violence, LGBTQ rights, women's rights and more. Our "kindness curriculum" teaches youth and educators in nearly 1,000 schools how to move past tolerance and create positive change.
7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
Since receiving the L'Oreal Paris Woman of Worth Award in 2017, I've worked to launch Trailblazers, a new campaign that will provide low-income middle and high school girls in the United States with career field trips to high-profile companies (hopefully T-Mobile and Ashoka!), in addition to professional supplies, women-led workshops and female mentorship. Trailblazers will begin in NYC in the Fall of 2018 at L'Oreal Paris. I am also launching Popcorn Pop-Ups, which will provide young people with free screenings of films tackling various issues, with a panel of leaders afterward. The first pop-up occurred in May 2018 in Allentown, PA, where 101 young girls and their families watched RBG and I moderated a panel of local female leaders.
8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?
I need connections to more high-profile companies that will be open to hosting middle and high school girls as Trailblazers at their headquarters for a day of networking, workshops, and experiential learning, as well as funding to support the students involved in Trailblazers and to continue holding Popcorn Pop-Ups. I also need mentorship to properly execute these two new campaigns, as they will be our first national campaigns that are not fully online-based.
9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
Donations over $10k
10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.
I would like to work with school leaders around the United States to have their female-identifying students become Trailblazers, in addition to working with these school leaders to hold Popcorn Pop-Ups at their school/local movie theater with film(s) about the most prevalent issues in their area and on the national and global scale. I would also be interested in working with different young leaders to start more Validation Project chapters at their schools/in their communities. In addition, I would like to partner with other youth leaders and hear their thoughts on how Trailblazers, Popcorn Pop-Ups, and The Validation Project as a whole could grow and be more active in different geographical areas and different areas of social justice.
Currently, I am working closely with L'Oreal Paris to launch the first Trailblazers event at their headquarters in New York City this November. I also worked closely with the local theatre, Boys and Girls Club, and Girls on the Run in Allentown, PA, (where I attend Muhlenberg College) to plan the first Popcorn Pop-Up for the RBG Movie, securing female leaders as panelists and involving youth organizations to bring their students.
How did you hear about this challenge?