AST 17 had 30 participants from around the world attend. They represented, social entrepreneurs, foundations, corporate foundations, nonprofits, academia and government agencies. Our cohort had a varied degree of experiences including a former diplomat from El Salvador, to someone starting her career at a corporate foundation, to leading a nonprofit organization and everyone in between. Our cohort came from Australia, Barbados, Egypt, El Salvador and Greece. We also had participants from across the US.
We have an open selection process. ASTers are individuals committed to making a positive change in society and are open to absorb new ideas, willing to challenge conventional notions, and committed to being part of this ongoing community of social change leaders.
Pamela Kilborn-Miller is building a national campaign to strengthen our democracy for the 2018 & 2020 elections. As program director, she's currently partnering with PBS member station KCTS 9 and the UW DataLab on a pilot project to determine if quick, creative, and non-partisan Public Service Announcements (PSAs) can reduce the spread of fake news among eligible voters in the United States. If successful, "We the People PSAs" will be crowdsourced as part of a growing national media and academic partnership that currently includes the Society of Professional Journalists.
This campaign is a direct outcome of the AST program.
Estrada Colón is piloting Microsoft Translator at the Matt Griffin YMCA, the most diverse Y in King County. She is testing whether Microsoft Translator can bridge the language gaps between members (who speak 16+ languages) and Y staff. If successful, the pilot will help members and staff better understand each other's needs. Thanks to AST'er Diane Wagner for the introduction of this tool to the YMCA.
Terrence Nevins has launched the 4% Community Collaboration Challenge in the greater Puget Sound region to boost millennial engagement that will result in 11,000 millennials finding a volunteer opportunity where their talents, skills and ambition are appreciated.
Marsha Kabakov, training director for the National CASA Association, is working with Cindy Bonfini-Hotlosz (they met in the AST cohort) from Centreity Learning Systems. Their initial project is a proof of concept to improve CASA’s web based training. The ultimate goal is a scalable learning program for the national network of CASA programs (Court Appointed Special Advocates). Their target of learners are 88,000 citizen volunteers in the CASA movement who advocate in over 900 court jurisdictions nationwide to bring best interest advocacy and stability to 250,00 abused and neglected children in the United States annually. In Marsha’s vision for the longer term is a comprehensive learning program based on a distributed learning environment and best interest advocacy curriculum that is sustainable and responsive to changing clinical and legal trends in child welfare.
Timos Plastas (Head of Microsoft Philanthropies in Central & Eastern Europe) connected Chitra Hanstad (Executive Director, World Relief Seattle) to various NGO's working on the refugee crisis in Athens, Greece. This proved very timely as Chitra was in Davos, Switzerland where she worked with a Hong Kong based Foundation to conduct a "refugee experience simulation" for participants of the World Economic Forum. After Davos, Chitra visited Athens and Lesbos Island where Timos introduced her to several (Microsoft Philanthropies funded) Greek run non-profits that are having a meaningful impact on local refugee women and children.
Since the Greek visit, facilitated by Timos, both Chitra and the Greek Executive Directors she met have learned a lot from each other and, furthermore, have been able to transfer that knowledge back to their respective offices and staff. This cross-pollination of ideas has further energized and equipped them and their teams to serve refugees more powerfully.
“This incredible visit and impactful learning opportunity would not have been possible without the connections made through the AST course! Thanks to AST and to Timos for his time and for sharing his networks." - Chitra
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