“You can be a superhero by showing empathy and kindness.” — Claudia Olaes
Young changemakers, tech leaders, nonprofits, online safety experts and others gathered together at the 2018 Digital4Good Conference hosted at Google’s San Francisco Community Space on Monday, September 17. Nonprofit #ICANHELP, an After School partner, organized this annual event to showcase the efforts of students around the country who are using social media and digital tools to improve the lives of their peers and to create a better world, both on and offline.
After School’s staff proudly participated as mentors to students, advisors to the conference organizers, and event speakers.
During the “pre-conference” meeting on September 16 at Supercell headquarters in San Francisco, our staff joined a dozen other industry professionals to mentor teen award winners on how to scale their projects. After School’s Alexa Chavez, who worked with a team of students, said, “What impressed me most was how prepared our group was that they had worked for over a year on their project.” On what help they offered the group, Alexa stated, “we were able to provide our group with ideas and advice on how to bring their projects into the real world in a more effective way.”
After School Vice President Jeff Collins attended the event in person while other team members tuned in to the livestream. The event, sponsored by Twitter, Google, Supercell, Riot, Niantic, Two Hat, After School, and others, featured students working on a wide variety of social causes.
ICANHELP paired After School’s Jeff Collins and Katie Thangaraju with a group of students from San Joaquin county improve their work to tackle the online recruitment aspect of sex trafficking. Katie said she felt honored to work with such an intelligent and driven group of kids who were “tackling a critical issue that is taking a massive human toll around the world, whether in my home country of India or in our own backyard here in California.”
After School Co-Founder and CEO Michael Callahan closed the first day out by sharing his observations and some words of advice for attendees. Callahan told the assembled students that, as the “do-gooders” among their classmates, they faced the challenge of leading others to do positive things. They could do so, he said, by continuing to do amazing things. “You should never accept being average, you should want to be extraordinary,” Michael said.
During Day 2 of the event, students accepted their awards and summarized their projects for a 200-person audience made of up other students, parents, teachers, administrators, tech industry professionals, and non-profit leaders. An online audience of just over 1,000 people also tuned in. In addition to the projects noted above, students are working on a wide range of issues, from tackling teenage suicide to tutoring children with dyslexia.