January 27, 2017
Voqal accepted six tech-savvy entrepreneurs into the 2017 cohort of the Voqal Fellowship, which provides the resources and mentoring needed to bring early-stage ideas focused on progressive and social change to life. Voqal Fellows will receive a $30,000 stipend and are expected to complete their projects in six months. Joining a growing legacy of Voqal Fellows making a difference in the world are the following members of the 2017 class:
McQueen intends to create The Upload Appalachia Project, a social justice initiative that aims to educate and train youth in the central Appalachian region in the areas of video production and website design, while also allowing them to share the stories of the underserved people in the region. This project will produce four short films that highlight established and sustainable programs or projects underway in the Appalachian region (a few were mentioned recently by The New York Times). In addition, the Upload Appalachia Project will also create a youth media platform that will host these short films and solicit films from other youth media groups across the country to raise awareness for the good works occurring both regionally and nationally.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a government program that protects certain young undocumented individuals from deportation and provides them with work authorization. It has benefitted 1,267,834 undocumented young people across the U.S. Despite this change, DACAmented individuals still face many obstacles in terms of finding gainful employment because of cultural and legal reasons. During the Fellowship, Garcia plans to use his web development experience to build a centralized professional network which will connect DACAmented job seekers to understanding mentors and job providers who are well-equipped to onboard them.
Mody’s project, Movement Alchemy: Melding Digital and Grassroots Organizing is a digital organizing platform that allows organizers from all over the country to connect with each other and start their own campaigns on issues affecting the Latinx community. She will create a weekly podcast and monthly emerging artist/culture makers show with local organizers replicating the learning environments created in grassroots organizing.
Huang’s WorkIt is a service that will use technology (assisted AI, cloud computing, messaging and mobile apps), trained volunteers, legislative information and company policy to provide real-time workplace information and support to people working in low-wage jobs. Workers will be able to use this service to connect with one another around shared experiences, access hard to understand and often decentralized information about their rights as workers, collectively strategize to create significant change to remedy income inequality, establish workplace security and hold corporations accountable to their workers.
Spencer’s kweliTV is an interactive, on-demand and live streaming video network dedicated to the stories, issues and culture of the global black community. It offers indie films, web shows, documentaries and news programming of the entire African diaspora. Its mission is to change the perception of how black people are portrayed in media. Often, the messages most dominant in today’s media are negative towards people of color and pervaded with false perceptions. kweliTV’s aims to change the black narrative.
Jordan plans to build Myseedofchange.com as an online training, education and virtual community platform for marginalized individuals and organizations led by them. The diversity of the nonprofit sector is stagnant despite the demographic shift occurring in the United States. The leadership capacity of individuals most affected by social problems (“community leadership”) is not often the focus of infrastructure nonprofits. Reliance on earned income strategies in many infrastructure nonprofits leads them to prioritize serving those populations that are already resourced. Myseedofchange.com will provide training, education and virtual community to marginalized populations at free or low cost.
The Voqal Fellowship seeks to further progressive, social justice-oriented causes by investing in a new generation of social entrepreneurs and is part of Voqal’s overall efforts to build an educated, empowered and engaged public. Learn more about the Voqal Fellowship here.