Originally published in the Education section of the Huffington Post on February 29, 2012, MacArthur Director of Education Constance Yowell discusses the inception of Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation.
"Born This Way" is much more than a pop song. It's becoming a movement, it is an identity, and now it is a foundation. Today, Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, announce the launch of the Born This Way Foundation at Harvard University (which you can watch a live stream of the event).
The Foundation's aim is to celebrate individuality and empower youth -- and the MacArthur Foundation is pleased to be a partner in this ambitious endeavor. We share a belief in creating opportunities for kids to safely express themselves, develop their identities, nurture creative instincts and participate in solving problems in their own communities.
Deployed with the passion and reach of one of the most influential public figures in the world, the Born This Way Foundation worked with the MacArthur Foundation to identify three essential pillars to building a braver, kinder world:
- Youth need a safe environment in which to explore themselves and their individuality;
- They need to learn the skills required to feel empowered and to lead;
- Finally, they need opportunities to impact their local communities through solutions of their own design.
In addressing these needs, we have been presented with an opportunity to collaborate with an artist whose positive impact is already very real.
There is a strong alignment between the goals of the Born This Way Foundation and MacArthur's own. Building a just and peaceful world begins with braver and kinder individuals, and reimagining the learning experience is tied closely to our mission.
We also share a commitment to exploring new ways of reaching the world's youth. By encouraging learning and understanding through digital media, youth are better able to navigate the dark side of cyber attacks and bullying. Collaboration with organizations like YOUmedia -- leaders in youth-powered 21st century learning -- promote the kind of digital, educational creativity and collaboration that allow these efforts to grow.
Lady Gaga's fans represent a potentially powerful force for social good, if inspired and engaged. A virtual army 19 million strong on Twitter and 48 million strong on Facebook, Lady Gaga's supporters are primed and excited, and through her new Foundation, they can get the help they need to make a real-world difference for themselves and their communities.
The Born this Way Foundation is a part of our efforts to reimagine a better future for young people. Other such partnerships can and should exist. Celebrities and notable public figures are increasingly aware of their power to address the challenges and problems around them. Through collaboration, philanthropists can find new partners in many of these celebrities and the networks they bring to the table.
Our work with the Born This Way Foundation is just a beginning, and nothing will be achieved overnight. But, I hope that we can work together to nurture a generation of young people who are proud of who they are, and eager and equipped to make the world a better place. Join us.