The Changemaker Project curriculum can be integrated into any project-based learning course, or within an extra-curricular club. Much of the material is self-guided, but students should also have the support of a team advisor (usually a teacher) to guide them through it.
Our program is now designed as a four-year program, and each year follows the same general format. Students have access to a new online course each year, as well as our Global Pitch event and Changemaker Showcase. In the fourth year, students have the opportunity to become mentors to guide and support new students.
Our online courses are broken down into three main areas:
Understanding the Problems
As students work through the course content, they form teams and choose a project to tackle, develop a project idea and pitch it for seed funding at our annual Global Pitch event each spring. Once they secure their funding, we pair them with mentors who can support them as they launch and implement their projects. The program culminates with a Changemaker Showcase each June to honor and celebrate the impact teams have made with their projects.
Interested in learning more? Request to see a demo of our curriculum.
The curriculum includes teacher-guided leadership development lessons to help students cultivate the following qualities:
understanding the problems
In the fall semester, students begin a series of modules to learn about various social and environmental problems. Students explore a variety of resources to get different perspectives on each issue, meet a "Featured Changemaker" who is tackling the issue at hand, and engage in discussion with their peers as they respond to reflective question prompts.
Examining stereotypes, implicit bias, and fear of "other"
Immigration and refugee crisis
Once students have explored various social and environmental problems, they choose a problem they'd like to tackle. It can be an issue from our curriculum content, or a challenge in their own community that they'd like to solve. Students break into teams of 2-5, based on their issue area, and begin designing solutions.
In the spring semester, our curriculum follows Stanford's Design Thinking process, which is based upon empathy. We want to ensure that students aren't just coming up with solutions that they think are clever, but don't actually meet the needs of those affected by the problem.
Students begin their design process by conducting "Empathy Interviews," to learn about the needs of those they're trying to help. Through these interviews, students begin to uncover pain points and specific challenges that they might not have known about otherwise. When interviews are not feasible, students gain empathy by utilizing interviews, memoirs, and other first-hand accounts of those affected by the problem.
Next, students take a look at their data from their empathy interviews and research, and define the problem more specifically. From there, they can begin to "ideate" or brainstorm solutions. This is the fun part! No idea is too crazy-- the goal here is to get them thinking as creatively and "outside the box" as possible.
Once they have a big list of ideas, students can begin to evaluate them for feasibility, and even combine several ideas together to make something unique. From there, they prototype the best idea or two by creating a model or "trial run" of their project idea which they can test to gather more feedback.
The Design Thinking process is iterative, meaning they go through the steps multiple times (and not necessarily in the same order!) to continually build empathy, gather data, and refine their approach.
mentorship + project implementation
After they go through the Design Thinking process, each team submits a Project Proposal and receives feedback from The Changemaker Project staff. Teams then create a 2-minute pitch video to showcase their project at Global Pitch for a chance to receive seed funding. They also raise funds from their own networks through their GoFundMe pages.
Once they secure their funding, teams have the option to be paired with mentors who have expertise in their project area. Mentors meet with teams via Zoom calls to learn about students' projects, provide guidance and support, and point them toward the right resources to help them achieve their goals.
As students are executing their project plans, we provide leadership development tools around:
Mindfulness + self care
At the end of the year, teams create another 2-minute video to showcase the impact they've made for our Changemaker Showcase. Check out the projects our current students are working on!