A Chicago teen space that blends digital and traditional media is going viral. In support of President Obama's "Educate to Innovate" call to action, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) today announced plans to create 30 new youth learning labs in libraries and museums across the country.
The labs will be modeled after YOUmedia, an innovative out-of-school program at the Chicago Public Library. YOUmedia provides state-of-the-art digital media tools coupled with strong mentoring to help teens become creators, not just consumers, of media. A peer-driven and participatory learning environment, YOUmedia is informed by new research on how kids' learning is changing because of digital media.
"Utilizing YOUmedia has redefined who I am as a person," says Jabari Mbwelera. "I knew I wanted to do something with audio. But I didn't have the skills or the tools that I needed to do what I wanted to do." Mentors at YOUmedia helped Jabari gain those skills, and he and his friends have sparked each other's creativity. Today, Jabari is on his way to college to major in audio engineering. "So yeah, it's really changed my life," he says.
With $4 million in funding, MacArthur and IMLS will soon launch a national competition to create these 30 new learning labs. IMLS, which is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums, also will help increase the capacity of museum and library staff to develop programming informed by current research. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Pearson Foundation, the New York Community Trust, the Chicago Community Trust, the Mozilla Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and the Grable Foundation will join in supporting these new learning labs.
YOUmedia is a product of MacArthur's Digital Media and Learning initiative, which is exploring how digital media are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize, and participate in civic life. The initiative is building a base of evidence for re-imagining learning for the 21st century.