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MacArthur today announced a $500,000 grant to the newly launched Born This Way Foundation (BTWF) to support online and on-the-road efforts to engage young people in civic life and deter bullying. BTWF’s mission is to empower young people to make positive change in the world, with a specific focus on stopping meanness and cruelty, especially online. Lady Gaga officially kicked off BTWF today at a conference on youth meanness and cruelty organized by Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society and supported by MacArthur and the California Endowment. 

“MacArthur’s partnership with the Born This Way Foundation will apply what we have learned about the power and potential of digital media to reach and engage millions of young people,” said Connie Yowell, MacArthur’s Director of Education. “In classrooms and communities, online and even on-the-road, this effort will enable teachers, parents, students, and communities each do their part to promote positive civic and online participation.”

Specifically, MacArthur’s grant will support:

  • Outreach to adults seeking to encourage schools, afterschool programs, and community organizations to implement digital citizenship criteria. With previous MacArthur support the Berkman Center is conducting research to determine best practices for programs and curricula to prevent bullying and promote civic engagement by young people. BTWF will establish a social media campaign to share the best practices identified by Harvard and engage teachers, policymakers, and parents in widespread discussion. 
  • Digital outreach to young people to support civic engagement through social networks, email, and websites. Competitions will encourage youth production of games, music, documentaries, photography, fashion, and more. BTWF will provide young people with platforms to perform and display their productions, including at Lady Gaga’s concerts in 2013. 
  • Outreach to young people on the road. A tour bus, designed by Chicago youth in the city’s innovative YOUMedia teen library space, will travel the country to serve as a place where kids can go to feel connected and learn about civic engagement opportunities. The bus, along with onsite mentors, will also accompany Lady Gaga’s 2013 concert tour. 

MacArthur’s $85 million digital media and learning initiative aims to determine how digital media are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize and participate in civic life. 

The Born This Way Foundation also announced today that Lady Gaga has made a $1.2 million personal contribution to BTWF, dedicating $200,000 to cover the foundation’s overhead costs.

Watch video of the entire launch event or conversation between Lady Gaga and Oprah Winfrey below.