Since 2013, Out of Eden Learn has been promoting meaningful digital exchange among youth growing up in diverse geographic contexts. We have previously written on this blog about the way in which the political and social context in which we operate has made our work seem all the more timely and important, given recent trends of xenophobia and intolerance. Other organizations share our sense of mission and urgency. One such organization is Global Cities, Inc., which functions under the auspices of Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Global Cities’ signature program, Global Scholars, connects 10,500 students aged 10-13 across a variety of cities around the world to engage in a shared, original, interdisciplinary curriculum. Like Out of Eden Learn, Global Cities clusters groups of classrooms together so that young people are exposed to a variety of perspectives. Global Scholars learn about, investigate, and work collaboratively on an important global issue of our time, such as energy conservation, access to water, and digital literacy. Global Cities has found, like us, that young people are highly responsive to opportunities to engage in authentic interactions with peers they would not otherwise meet, and to learn more about the world at large. Global Cities also shares our interest in developing ways to identify and evaluate the kinds of learning that can take place in such online contexts – and to then use those findings to further enhance digital exchange practices.
We are therefore excited to announce that Global Cities recently committed $250,000 to Out of Eden Learn to augment the Abundance Foundation’s ongoing support. We are honored to receive this gift, which recognizes the important contribution we are making, as they are, to the developing field of digital cross-cultural exchange.
Last year, Out of Eden Learn was invited to present at Global Cities’ symposium on The Future of International Digital Learning. I represented Out of Eden Learn, alongside my colleague Shari Tishman. It was a highly productive and generative meeting, with school districts, education leaders, policy makers, and other digital exchange practitioners sharing their expertise and insights with one another. One of the speakers was Michael R. Bloomberg, 108th Mayor of New York City and philanthropist. Referring to the increasingly divisive rhetoric in politics and public discourse, he commented that “Combatting cultural ignorance – and the fear and intolerance it breeds – begins with young people.” We couldn’t agree more.
By encouraging young people to connect with peers from around the globe and to consider the world from multiple viewpoints, Global Cities and Out of Eden Learn are both helping to instill the kind of respectful curiosity, openness to different cultures, and critical thinking that we hope will build a brighter future for everyone. We sincerely thank Global Cities for their generous gift and for their impressive work as an ally in the field of international digital exchange.