Announcing the inaugural class of Media Ideation Fellows

Voqal is delighted to debut its inaugural class of Media Ideation Fellows. From a creative SMS hotline to redesigning the charitable donation process, Voqal’s first class of fellows are tackling concrete social justice issues using a diversity of perspectives and technological platforms.

tara-conleyTara Conley is building a Textline for Court-Involved Youth, an anonymous, SMS-based hotline that will serve young people involved in welfare, juvenile court, and foster care systems in New York City. The textline will provide access to educational, employment, family planning and mental health resources. Additionally, the textline will provide instant support for youth in crisis and emergency situations. Tara is a doctoral student at Columbia University’s Teachers College and the founder of MEDIA MAKE CHANGE. Follow @taralconley on Twitter.


cfd_118x118Charles DeTar will create InterTwinkles, a set of web-based tools designed to help small- to medium-sized groups engage in online democratic decision-making. A Ph.D. student at the MIT Media Lab and a researcher in the MIT Center for Civic Media, Charles’ research focuses on ways to democratize power imbalances in media and technology. Follow @InterTwinkles on Twitter.


yongjun-heoYongjun Heo is developing a transparency-focused technology platform to increase food donations to Philadelphia-based food pantries by enabling donors to monitor their contributions and recruiting student volunteers. Yongjun founded Pemon Health Inc., a public health organization that brings college students, health professionals, and Pemón villagers together to implement sustainable community health projects in rural Venezuela. Yongjun was awarded a George Mitchell scholarship to study at University College Dublin, where he earned a Master of Public Health in 2011. Follow @yongjunheo on Twitter.


kristy-tillmanKristy Tillman is building Project Phonebooth, a mobile app that aims to make applying to local government jobs easier for those who rely on mobile technology to access the Internet. Kristy will create mobile software for local governments to make their job postings and application process easily accessible to those on the other side of the digital divide. Kristy is a communication designer at international design firm IDEO in Boston. Follow @KristyT on Twitter.


Each fellow has been awarded a stipend and paired with a mentor, allowing them to focus intensively on their specific issue-based project over the coming months. Voqal is excited to partner with the following individuals to mentor fellows:

  • Marci Harris, CEO, Popvox
  • Elisa Miller-Out, CEO, Singlebrook
  • Hannah Sassaman, Strategic Development Consultant
, Media Mobilizing Project
  • Anthea Watson Strong, Google

“Bringing a social innovation to scale is challenging. It takes significant time and resources to move an innovation from idea to implementation to impact,” says Voqal Program Strategist Erin Polgreen. “Many world-changing concepts remain unrealized due to the lack of opportunities for young technologists to nurture their creativity and act on inspiration–things that can be solved with smart, modest investment and guidance.”

That’s why, in 2012, Voqal launched the Media Ideation FellowshipSM, which provides young innovators with the support and mentorship necessary to bring early stage progressive social innovations to life. The Fellowship’s goal is to build a pipeline of social innovators committed to social justice and the public good.

Over the next year, fellows will work with Voqal to move their ideas into reality. Each of these projects–and the people behind them–have the power to do great things. Voqal is proud to support them in their vital work.

About Voqal

Voqal is a collaborative of five nonprofit organizations that got their start transmitting educational video programs to schools in the mid80s using frequencies regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Today, these five organizations continue to provide services to schools and nonprofits nationwide, engage in philanthropic programs centered on social equality, and participate in other entrepreneurial endeavors using our combined spectrum expertise. In 2013, these five organizations merged under the single brand Voqal to facilitate the unification of services and leverage their collective resources. For more information, please visit