The YLAC Counter Speech Fellowship with Instagram engages creative teens to use the power of visual storytelling to start meaningful conversations on issues important to young citizens around the world. The fellowship is a fully-funded, weekend only engagement open to students between 13 and 18 years of age.
The fellowship is currently looking for 30 exceptional teenagers in Guwahati, Kolkata, and Hyderabad to start meaningful conversations on the themes of Bullying, Diversity, Mental Wellbeing, Body Positivity, Gender Equality, and Sustainability. The application deadline for 2019 round is May 19.
Founded by Harvard and Oxford alumni in 2016, Young Leaders for Active Citizenship (YLAC) aims to increase the participation of young people in the democratic process and build their capacity to lead change.
YLAC aims to help young people broaden their perspective, think critically about their socio-political construct, tap their leadership potential and acquire skills to create long-lasting impact.
YLAC works on a diverse range of projects. In addition to running our own programs, we undertake projects for tech majors like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, as well as leading non-profits such as Janaagraha and Oxfam. Their flagship programs – the High School Achievers Program, the Counter Speech Fellowship and the Policy in Action Program – focus on enhancing citizen engagement across different age groups.
Additionally, they work in strengthening civic engagement and participatory governance by assisting offices of Members of Parliament, Indian Ministries and NITI Aayog with research and advocacy on legislative and policy issues.
YLAC Counter Speech Fellowship 2019
By Team YLAC
The Counter Speech Fellowship mentors talented teens to create powerful content around the issues that they care about deeply. It aims to foster leaders in the digital age, who are empowered to confront existing social norms and create ripples of positive change around them. We are building this impactful community of young changemakers, one city at a time. Through our handle, we hope to promote voices that are wise beyond their years, who are spreading path-breaking ideas.
This fellowship with Instagram engages creative teens to use the power of visual storytelling to start meaningful conversations on issues important to young citizens around the world. Hinged on using arts for advocacy, the fellowship was first launched in 2017 and will run in seven cities in 2019 – six in India (Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Guwahati) and one in Nepal (Kathmandu).
Fellows are mentored and encouraged to build powerful content and the most inspiring work is promoted on Instagram. The fellowship is designed as a fully funded engagement wherein fellows meet every alternate weekend for a period of 3-4 hours in their city. The overall duration of the fellowship is two months and the schedule is easy to accommodate alongside regular school work and examinations.
The 2019 fellowship focuses on six themes: Bullying, Diversity, Mental Wellbeing, Body Positivity, Gender Equality, and Sustainability. The idea is to use the internet and social media as a force for good by creating unique communities around issues that matter to teenagers, and provide a platform for voicing concerns and advocating for changes. By giving teens a voice and building their capacity to mobilize people, we hope to create a world that is more inclusive and tolerant.
Over the course of the fellowship, the Counter Speech Fellows run feeds on Instagram on their selected themes. These feeds put out creative and thought-provoking content with the aim of creating awareness, leading action and extending support. All the content created by the fellows is available on Instagram through the hashtag #counterspeechylac
We currently run programs in different cities in India and Nepal, in addition to undertaking projects in civic engagement and public policy. Our work is guided by our Board of Advisors – Dr. Shashi Tharoor (Member of Parliament, India), Mr. Baijayant Panda (Former Member of Parliament, India) and Prof. Michael Walton (Harvard University).
As an incubator for the future generation of leaders and activists, the fellowship is built around three pillars – awareness, support, and advocacy. During the two-month-long fellowship, fellows run campaigns to generate momentum for change while focusing on the three core pillars of the fellowship:
Building awareness is the first step in any campaign. It starts with educating oneself, conversing with others and removing taboos. To this end, fellows leverage the Instagram platform to create content around their themes. The most promising content is promoted on Instagram to reach thousands of other teenagers across the country, and the world.
The fellowship themes are issues that have, in some form or the other, affected most teenagers. Any call for mobilization must, therefore, begin with empathy and an extension of support to those who have been adversely affected. As part of their work, the Counter Speech Fellows lend support to peers and other teenagers who reach out to them in times of distress.
The fellowship is a powerful platform for teenagers to reach out to key decision makers such as policymakers, educators and parents to get their opinions heard and advocate for better support systems for teenagers. During the previous editions, fellows put together recommendations for school authorities on how to deal with issues like bullying and mental wellbeing. They also took over Instagram handles of influencers to talk about these issues.
Some of the work done by our talented Counter Speech fellows can be found below:
We post the work from our fellows across India (and the world). Follow our posts and stories to be a part of the greatest movement of our time- the movement for self-expression, dissent, progress, and individuality.
We are building this impactful community of young changemakers, one city at a time. Through our handle, we hope to promote voices that are wise beyond their years, who are spreading path-breaking ideas.
Applications to the Phase I of the 2019 fellowship – Hyderabad, Guwahati, and Kolkata – are currently open. Click here for more to see details and application.
The Applications for the Counter Speech Fellowship close on 19th May 2019.
So hurry and apply soon!