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Professional Development for Educators: BYkids Community of Learners

Join a community of educators using BYkids films as pathways toward a more connected world in a free three-day professional development workshop.
June 20, 2024
5 min read
Coming Soon

Join a community of educators using BYkids films as pathways toward a more connected world!

  • Looking for a professional development opportunity designed by teachers, for teachers?
  • Interested in re-centering student voices and stories in your classroom?
  • Eager to inspire deeper engagement in your curricula?

In this expansion of last summer’s inaugural cohort, students and teachers will come together to explore how BYkids films can enrich their teaching and learning experiences. Throughout the 2023-24 school year, the inaugural cohort has successfully integrated the films into their classrooms nationwide across a variety of disciplines, from Science to English to World Languages, pairing the films with a wide variety of texts and designing innovative assessments that students and teachers have found to be both inspiring and exhilarating.

Join us this summer for this free three-day professional development workshop that will highlight the many pedagogical uses and benefits of BYkids films and provide insights and opportunities for creating customized pathways to integrate BYkids films into your curricula. The program will be offered in-person at several high school campuses around the country as well as virtually.

Click here to view session dates and register.

About BYkids

BYkids pairs talented young storytellers from around the world with seasoned filmmakers to create powerful documentaries about their lives. These captivating stories premiere every fall on PBS. There are currently 17 BYkids films made by young people from eleven different countries, with four more in production this season.


In-Sight Collaborative Mentorship Program

This mentorship program is designed to provide training and experience in the nonprofit sector as it relates to humanitarianism and development.
In-Sight Collaborative
July 1, 2024
5 min read
Coming Soon

This mentorship program from In-Sight Collaborative is designed to provide training and experience in the nonprofit sector as it relates to humanitarianism and development. The program is designed to be accessible to people who may not have access to humanitarian training otherwise. 

Program dates:
July 1 - August 12, 2024

The program will be available in English, Spanish, or Arabic.

Participants will be given the opportunity to: 

  • discover a better sense of self and community as humanitarians
  • imagine and conceptualize interventions rooted in empathetic system design and accompaniment
  • increase their network and knowledge to contribute to the paradigm shift in forced displacement and larger humanitarian sector towards equity 

Since its inception in 2020, the mentorship program has been attended by hundreds of participants from over 35 countries around the world. We believe that anyone with the right mindset and a willingness to engage can be an effective part of the humanitarian response from any background, profession, or sector. It is one of our goals to help inspire future humanitarian leaders and give them the tools and resources they need to participate in a meaningful way.

Throughout the program, participants will be given the opportunity to explore the following areas of the non-profit and humanitarian sector:

  • History of the humanitarian sector, humanitarian principles, and current trends
  • Planning, assessment, implementation, and evaluation of humanitarian interventions
  • Strategic planning within the non-profit industrial complex and other structural challenges
  • Ethical fundraising and advocacy initiatives
  • Community-based research
  • Human-centered leadership
  • Power of narratives and storytelling
  • Wellness and community care for humanitarians

Click here for more information and to apply.

About In-Sight Collaborative

In-Sight Collaborative is a humanitarian NGO founded in 2016 by a group of friends volunteering in refugee camps in Northern Greece. In an acute humanitarian crisis spanning acres and acres of farm fields, train tracks, gas station parking lots, and abandoned hotels, our founding members recognized that the current lens we had grown up with to view the world was dangerously misleading. We saw a need for more collaboration, for more championing of the agency of the people who call these camps home.

In-Sight Collaborative is a facilitator to those in the humanitarian sector who recognize that cultivating an equitable aid system starts with oneself. Moving from its direct aid model, In-Sight Collaborative now works to embody the accompaniment model. We educate humanitarians to be intentional and empowered to cultivate a more equitable system by providing educational tools, programs, and platforms to address harmful policies and practices.


Discover the Latest Insights

Stay informed with our featured stories.

Kara Grace Hess
5 min read
Filmbuilding director Tom Flint and EMA’s Director of Educational Programs David Grace discuss the process and culmination of a filmmaking workshop at Lincoln Sudbury High School

It all started back in early March when Tom Flint asked a group of 16 students at Lincoln Sudbury (LS) Regional High School what popped into their minds when they heard the word “belonging.”

A group of rugby players found themselves thinking of a team huddling together before a match. Others described it as more of a feeling. In the span of just two and a half months, these students ultimately collaborated in a workshop run by Flint’s organization Filmbuilding to dive much deeper into what belonging truly means—and to make three short films about it. 

The LS workshop was first conceived when David Grace, EMA’s Director of Educational Programs and a history teacher at LS, was approached by his colleague Lori Houghton. While working with the Racial Climate Task Force in Massachusetts, Houghton mentioned to Grace that she saw a need for students to tell their stories. As part of a long-running voluntary school desegregation program run by the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO), the LS population includes students from Lincoln, Sudbury, and communities in Boston. Houghton envisioned that giving these students who came to LS from a variety of different communities the chance to tell their stories could help them build connections with one another. Grace immediately recognized the potential for EMA partner Filmbuilding to fulfill that goal.

After more than two months of learning and filmmaking, the end result of the Filmbuilding workshop was a pair of film showcases for the community: at LS on May 22nd and at Roxbury Community College in Boston on June 5th. Each event included a screening of the three films the students had made as well as a behind-the-scenes documentary about their process titled Belong-In made by Moses Sibley, an award-winning young filmmaker and rising junior at LS. Both screening showcases were followed by a Q&A with the student filmmakers, during which much of the emphasis was on how each individual grew while working with their peers. 

“The process oftentimes in art education tends to be overlooked," said Flint. "I think film, particularly now because it's visual storytelling and exploratory, offers so many opportunities for students to come together, get to know each other, and create something really meaningful.”

Throughout the workshop, relationship-building was a priority, with bonding time and field trips a key part of the schedule. This in-person time was critical, enabling Flint to encourage the students that they had stories worth telling and the capability to do it with the technology in the palm of their hands, with no prior filmmaking experience required. 

“With the technology that we have today there is nothing stopping anyone who has a recording device, some great ideas, and some people to do it with from going out there and making a movie. Film is inherently a collaborative form of art.”

Grace was constantly surprised by how the whole team continued to come together and how the students transformed through the process. Some of those who he thought might have had trouble with the project actually thrived with the challenge and rose to the occasion to collaborate across differences.

"Maybe the whole reason why we make movies is just to connect. Whether you have eight people in a Zoom room attending a virtual screening or 300 people in an auditorium at a high school, it's an opportunity to have a common shared experience around the story.”

During one of the post-screening Q&As, one question in particular really made Flint and Grace take a step back. Asking about their process during the workshop, one Boston mother asked the students to respond in this format: “Before Filmbuilding I was…, after Filmbuilding I am…” The responses varied from the literal to the tangential, with one saying “I am an editor” and others remarking “I am proud.” At the end of it all, Grace reflected on what he learned from the students about the meaning of belonging.

“It’s not a thing. It's not a noun, it's a verb. It's something you do, that you have to do, and continually do. The belonging is built through doing, so I guess we need to have a lot more shared experiences and watch a lot more movies.”

Kara Grace Hess
5 min read
The Dream Academy, a program of SafePlace International, empowers LGBTQIA+ displaced individuals and equips them to make sustainable change in their communities. 

SafePlace International (SPI) not only works to provide safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ displaced individuals, but it also empowers them. The organization does so through The Dream Academy (TDA), a 10-week intensive virtual course designed to equip participants with leadership training, socio-emotional learning, and job skills. Graduates from the program have the opportunity to put their vision into action through grant proposals. 

The academy’s ultimate goal is to shift shame and trauma into agency and determination. SPI seeks to reach, protect, connect, and ultimately invest in those who participate. Upon completion of the program, participants are emboldened to be agents of change in their communities. Many of the TDA graduates felt like exactly that—agents. 

One graduate from South Africa, Babalwa, saw herself as a leader upon exiting the program. Being a leader, to her, meant showing up for those in her community with confidence. 

“If I want to take a stance, I would take a stance immediately with responsibility, knowing that I'm not only helping myself, but I'm helping a much bigger community. My main focus with being a leader is making sure I am being me, and showing myself comfortably around others.”

To her, showing up for the community looks like showing empathy. When Babalwa sees others suffering, she feels their pain. “It hurts to see innocent LGBTQI+ people out there, refugees, to get hurt by people who think that they are not part of this world,” she said.

Still others found that authenticity was a crucial part of their growth after completing TDA, like Eastern Cape graduate Lilita, who is known as Sweetness. 

“I was challenged by The Dream Academy, and it allowed me to begin to know who I am, what I want in life, and how to overcome. I am proud of The Dream Academy because I am now a changed person who lives a happy, happy life!”

Thanks to TDA, Sweetness is now the founder and director of Lilita’s Kitchen and Gardens. The project, funded by the program, teaches youth and mothers in Cape Town how to start small gardens in addition to its door-to-door ministry that provides living necessities for elderly folks in the community. 

Sweetness noticed many kids in her community struggling to find jobs, leaving them to join gangs and forego other opportunities. The creation of Lilita’s Kitchen and Gardens was her attempt to offer learning opportunities with the hope that those kids would also have a transformative experience.

Transformation is what TDA is all about, and Elina, a refugee and single and lesbian-identifying mother now residing in Cape Town, is a testament to that. Her time at the academy helped her find herself and helped her as a parent.

“When I started, I was so broken and so hurt. I wasn't vulnerable; I wouldn't let anyone in, I wouldn't let anyone past the walls that I put up. Now, I can let people in, I can communicate, I can love, I can hug, and I can give as well. I have learned that being vulnerable is a superpower, not a weakness.”

The Dream Academy, more than anything else, offers loving support and encouragement, allowing graduates to lean into who they are and what they are passionate about. Like Carol, a bisexual woman and mother of two from Zimbabwe who set up Smiling Homes, a home for the LGBTQIA+ elderly. Through Smiling Homes, food and shelter are provided to LGBTQIA+ people who need it. She’s proud to be a part of such a loving community and to have found her strengths.

“I discovered that I was a true leader, born a leader. I just needed the tools."

It was love that she experienced while a part of TDA that impacted her life and many in the class of TDA graduates the most.

"It took people loving me up to find that I can be a person of influence, and I can help another person. I can share my story with someone, and they can be healed through it” 

Kara Grace Hess
5 min read
EMA’s Bill Meyer and Tracy Tran attended the GEO 2024 Conference in May, introducing EMA to the broader philanthropic community.

In May, the 2024 National Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) Conference was hosted in partnership with Philanthropy California in Los Angeles. Each year, the conference invites grantmakers and practitioners of philanthropy from around the world to participate in conversations around grantmaking practices focused on community and equity. They aim to not only initiate dialogue, but to incite positive action among the funders and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that take part. 

With that goal in mind, our colleague Abby Sarmac at Philanthropy Northwest —who also serves as a consultant to EMA partner Lighthouse Relief—invited EMA to participate on a conference panel titled “Exploring an Anti-framework to Shift Philanthropic Culture.” EMA Executive Director Bill Meyer and Partner Relations Associate Tracy Tran were joined on the panel by Oskar Zambrano and Anna Gonzalez, the development director and executive director for the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ), a small nonprofit working to organize communities around environmental justice in Southern California. 

Tran, a third-year student studying public health at the University of California, Irvine spoke from their perspective as a member of the EMA Partner Relations team, detailing the impact of trust-based philanthropy in their work supporting EMA partner Children of the Forest (CoF). 

“My story is a living example that trust works and is great for everyone. Trusting our partners works, trusting youth works, and it's better for everyone when trust is there.”

As part of their role at EMA, Tran has worked closely with CoF on their organization’s website design and has helped to sort its impact statistics to better convey their influence to a wider audience. Through her direct experience listening to and then best responding to CoF’s needs, Tran brought a lot to the table at GEO. “What I hoped to give was my lived experiences of being with EMA as a means for people to trust in trust-based philanthropy and in youth,” they said.

During the panel discussion, Tran shared how their experiences working with CoF had helped them understand the importance of messaging. And, as someone who identifies as being on the autism spectrum, playing a part in the process to define and articulate EMA’s mission to the world helped Tran develop a deeper understanding of the structures around them.

“I've always struggled with understanding systems and how I fit in them, or how any kind of entity expresses themselves. Learning all of these things really helped me understand the world. I'm really glad that I was able to speak and that I was heard. I do think I represented myself well and by representing myself, I'm also representing young people.”

By attending the GEO conference, Tran hoped they could learn even more about how EMA might ensure more equitable relationships with our partners. But after attending a session with Meyer titled “Evolving How You Know What You Know: the Equitable Evaluation Framework in Practice,” Tran was encouraged to see that EMA was already heading in the right direction. By having confidence in our partners and valuing their stories, EMA was already working within an ‘equitable evaluation framework.’ “We're on the right track with trusting our partners and valuing their qualitative data,” said Tran.

Tran feels optimistic about where EMA is headed, but also felt like something clicked after hearing from plenary speaker Marcus Walton, who argued that philanthropy is merely a response to restore what was promised: equality, freedom, and happiness. 

“I hadn’t really situated philanthropy in a broader system before. I hadn't thought of the overarching goal: to fix what was promised that wasn't delivered.”

Additionally, Meyer felt that many of the conference’s plenary speakers challenged the funders to do better by shifting to unrestricted funding. Their call to action was coupled with a call to acknowledge where the money that philanthropy has to offer comes from and to whom it truly belongs.

But it was plenary luncheon speaker Alok Vaid-Menon, an internationally renowned gender non-conforming writer and performance artist, who surprised Tran and Meyer the most. Through comedy, Alok spoke candidly to the power dynamics of philanthropy, emphasizing the importance of love in grantmaker-grantee relationships while calling out the absurdities of historical philanthropy models that treat grantees as inferior. In contrast to the more serious demeanor of the majority of conference speakers, “the energy shifted” with Alok’s keynote, said Tran.

What really caught Tran’s attention was Alok’s statement that “philanthropy is a joke”—the notion that it is absurd to think that foundations, who have largely profited off of marginalized communities, are forcing those same communities to ask for funding. As Tran noted, “Alok pointing at that and many other things during their speech was really good because everyone just was able to like, laugh at themselves for how ridiculous the whole concept is.” Tran also found Alok’s talk particularly powerful because it allowed older generations to see what she saw: that philanthropy as a whole needs to change. “A lot of the people in that room I think have been in philanthropy for a long time,” noted Tran. “Once you're in any space for a while, everything just gets normalized, and Alok really shook that up.”

The best question posed at their panel, Tran said, asked how EMA measures the needs of its partner organizations. The audience member, seemingly amazed by what had been proposed, needed confirmation that philanthropy could really be as simple as a conversation. Meyer’s answer: Yes it really is.

“We're in a position not only to participate in those conversations, but to lead by example.”


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11 Jan 2022
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