DePolarize: Fixing Political Polarization Through Conversations

DePolarize is an organization that hopes to provide Gen Z with the tools to have productive political conversations.

Photo of Maodan Tohouri
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Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

June 28, 2003

Help us stay in touch!

(925)-640-0029

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Instagram: letsdepolarize Facebook Page: DePolarize

Date You Started Your Project Started

05/20/2019

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Conversation and communication are integral to a healthy political system. However, the politics in America aren’t working for the people anymore; it is, rather, crippling us as a country. We can no longer create policies and unite as a people with our current divisive political climate. If we are to solve America’s problems, we need to be able to communicate and understand each other. At DePolarize, we give Gen Z the tools to do just that.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

DePolarize equips GenZ with the most important tool for change -- conversation. DePolarize accomplishes this through a series of videos, guides, and worksheets rolled out through social media and through strategic nonprofit partnerships. DePolarize has gathered data from over 100 youths to understand the problems facing youth in conversation. We then pinpointed the most relevant problems concerning youth that then informed our guide. Our guide is a 15- section outline on the necessary skills for political conversations, complete with introductory videos, tasks, and reflections that guides the users through a journey of self-reflection and skill building necessary to have productive political conversations. We quantify our success through our reach. Our reach will be measured by our social media platforms, where we will use our analytics to measure our impressions, reach, and clicks. We will use this information to continue to inform our strategy to reach new demographics and expand our base of informed conversationalists.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

I grew up in the liberal bubble of Pleasanton, CA. When I became involved in activism, I quickly realized that complex topics were being simplified down to party talking points. With the election of Trump, my discomfort turned into action. I conceptualized an idea for a project that would teach young people the skills that were necessary to having productive political conversation and I then pitched it to Rut. Similarly, Rut became increasingly frustrated with the divisiveness of our political climate and sought to transform it in some way. Rut got her start in activism after the shootings in Parkland, FL. As she became more involved, she found that there were no resources in guiding young people to having proactive political conversation. The frustration of Rut and I became the catalyst for us to create change by facilitating conversations across party lines through our project.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

There are two ways that people are introduced to our work-- social media and through nonprofit partners. The logic model for the project leads everyone to grow their ability for conversation. Social media is the most direct path to achieving that goal. Whether a person finds us through a collaboration or organically, they are introduced to our guide. Our guide is rolled out in a challenge format through social media. We will then have deep dive content for our audience to continue to build their skills. The other way people can come into contact with our project is through a referral or introduction via our strategic nonprofit partnerships. We are working with Next Generation Politics on their fall seminars as well as with Bridge the Divide to provide a guide to their ambassadors. Both pathways also lead to the evolutionary goal of growing Gen Z’s capacity to have conversations.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Intent was integral to our project. After extensive research, we found the hole that existed in the depolarization field- a lack of a project that engages young people and that could be effective at skill building. DePolarize fills that gap. A unique aspect of our project is the ability for our work to be integrated into any nonprofit. DePolarize has data sets that can be shared across projects, and the final guide can be used in any organization looking to facilitate better conversations-making it adaptable to anything-from a social media campaign to a classroom lecture.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

DePolarize has impacted both us and activists in its creation. Depolarize has had 100+ people participate in our research survey and has over 3 coalition partners, which will introduce our guide when we announce it in October. DePolarize has made us more aware of the problems we face in political conversations, and has had us analyze the nuance of conversation. We’ve experimented with different conversation styles when conversing with people across the political spectrum. DePolarize has given us a deeper understanding of communication, and we now have the tools we need to properly equip our audience for their political conversations. We hope to continue emboldening Gen Z to have politically productive conversations with increased funds, network and mentors.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Depolarize has many opportunities to continue to expand and impact the larger populus over the next couple years. The first project Depolarize hopes to create is a book made of our guide’s worksheets and lessons.This book will be distributed out to some our initial partners and ambassadors. We hope to expand this to a classroom setting. Secondly, we plan to have seminars and hold workshops. Lastly, we also hope to begin a mentorship program, in which we will select one or two followers of our guide and personally teach and instruct them on implementing our guide into their community. We envision that DePolarize will change the nature of political conversations in our country and we hope T-Mobile and Ashoka are part of that journey.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Project Plan & Strategy

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Donations between $100-$1k

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian, etc) (8)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media
  • Word of mouth
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Team (2)

Maodan's profile
Rut's profile
Rut Bansal

Role added on team:

"Rut Bansal is a junior at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, California. She is an activist, an artist, and a journalist. She is interested in politics, literature, and art. She spends most of her time writing, filming, editing, and standing up for causes she believes in. She enjoys photography, acting, videography, and reading. She began DePolarize because she wanted to inform people and teach them the importance of talking to people on the other side of a political conversation."

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DeletedUser

In a country that is more polarized than it has ever been, I think this is a fantastic idea that has the potential to really help unite people on opposite ends of the political aisle. Down the road, I would love to see this tool be involved with more people past GenZ; I feel like many this tool could be really helpful with politicians!

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