Global Minds Initiative
Global Minds bridges native English speaking students, immigrant, and refugee youth in order to create more welcoming and inclusive schools.
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1129 Wightman St Pittsburgh PA 15217
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Date You Started Your Project Started
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. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
Cultural diversity is at an all-time high in the U.S. and it continues to rise. The most recent census data reports that for the first time in the country’s history, over 50 percent of children enrolled in U.S. schools are minority students (US Census, 2016). Global Minds cultivates culturally responsive and inclusive schools in order to celebrate and create a safe space in accordance with the increase in diversity.
2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
The Global Minds Initiative is a for-youth by-youth organization that inspires students of all backgrounds to form social bonds, intercultural friendships, and to consider global issues through youth led extracurricular activities. Global Minds combats the issues of cultural intolerance, ignorance, and discrimination through a one-on-one after school tutoring program between English as a second language (ESL) students and native English speaking (NES) students. The goal of these activities is to tackle issues of xenophobia and cultural intolerance head on. Instead of isolation and alienation, Global Minds links students together as a part of an after school program that encourages trust and friendship among teens from diverse backgrounds.
In our afterschool program, each week native English speaking students provide one hour of homework help and conversational English practice, paired with an activity centered on diversity, human rights, sustainable development and equality. Through group discussions, both NES and ESL students examine and tackle prejudice and stereotypes in order to achieve mutual respect.
3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?
Khwala had sat behind me for months, but I had never bothered to introduce myself. I simply assumed that because she wore a hijab and never raised her hand, she didn’t speak English. For the first time, I asked myself: why had I jumped to such an irrational conclusion?
My friendship with Khwala blossomed as we began to exchange stories. Eventually she felt comfortable enough to share her experiences at school: how her only friends were from her English Language Learner (ELL) classes, students mocked her, and she felt unwelcome as a Syrian refugee. After months of brainstorming, Global Minds was a response to create more welcoming schools for ELL students, while fostering global competency for native English speaking students. At Global Minds we focus on mutual exchange in order to champion intercultural friendships and understanding.
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.
Israa fled Irag from Alkida to Syria to flee Syria from Isis to end up at my High School in Pittsburgh, PA. When she first came to the USA her teachers mocked her, students made fun of her hijab and her accent was looked down upon. She shared, "One of the things that changed me and my mind was the Global Minds Club, it changed my life. It helped me share my story, make new friends and helped me to feel at home. I never felt more welcomed before as much as this. I joined the Junior Board and finally found a place to belong. I made new American friends and had a safe place to share my perspective and knowledge about my country. Global Minds is a program that should be in every school and community, it gave me and my friends a place to belong, and it will do the same for so many others.”
6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
At Global Minds we are strategic in the way we present our programming. Everyone is volunteering, no one is on the receiving end of service. Migrant youth can share their culture, experience and knowledge, while native youth can share their language skills and knowledge of the school system. This presents an environment where youth can come for mutual exchange, avoiding an uncomfortable power dynamic. As we engage both native and migrant youth in intercultural connections, they are able to overcome stereotypes and discrimination through humanizing experiences.
7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
Since November of 2016, the Global Minds after school program has evolved from a program engaging 50 students, to a global movement of welcoming, kindness and inclusivity. The Global Minds Initiative engages over 2,600 students across 23 schools and 2 countries, the USA and Canada. Students of different nationalities sit together at lunch, go to the movies, and smile at one another in the hall. All of these small actions are so simple, but represent huge steps in the right direction. Our diverse student bodies engage in educated conversations about current events and plan community service projects to address their unique communities needs.
8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
In the next 3 years, we plan to grow our chapter network from 23 to 100 chapters. As we tackle this exciting new phase of growth, we have focused deeply on fundraising, business planning, and program quality in order to ensure that we grow in a sustainable way. Through a dynamic partnership with an international consulting group, we have established a three-year business and strategic plan that maps out how we can successfully achieve our goals. In the coming year, we will focus on new geographic areas as well as training and support for our chapter leaders. This past year we have partnered with Facebook, American Eagle and Moe's which we hope to replicate this coming year to provide expanded resources to our chapters.
9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?
10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
Donations less than $100
Donations between $100-$1k
Donations between $1k-$5k
Donations over $10k
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?
White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French) (6)
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?
Religious minority (non-Christian)
How did you hear about this challenge?
Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?
AYC + FCLP