Global Kids’ mission is to inspire and educate urban youth to become successful students, global citizens, and community leaders by engaging them in socially dynamic, content-rich learning experiences. Global Kids offers a number of globally oriented education programs to youth during the school day, afterschool, and during the summer--both at school sites throughout New York City and at their center in Manhattan. Their core program, the Power of Citizenry, like all of Global Kids’s programs, fuses leadership development with global education and civic engagement. This involves not only developing such 21st-century leadership skills as critical thinking, problem solving, media literacy communication, and project planning, but also exposing participants to global issues, the links between those issues and their own communities, and opportunities for action. The action component is a critical part of all programs, with youth designing and implementing scores of substantive service learning projects on a range of global issues, and educating thousands of their peers annually.
In addition to weekly leadership workshops for all participants, Global Kids runs a variety of programs, including:
- Human Rights Activist Project – Youth-organized peer education and public awareness campaigns on a human rights issue.
- Undesirable Elements with Ping Chong & Company – A performance theater group ensemble that helps youth tie their personal history to global issues through an arts approach using music, dance and spoken word.
- Online Leadership Program – This pioneering program engages youth in the use and production of digital media, including virtual worlds, blogs, podcasts, multimedia presentations, “machinima” videos and other media as a vehicle to build digital literacy, foster substantive online dialogue, and promote civic participation.
- The Global Kids Annual Conference – This all-day event is planned and executed by Global Kids youth, who select the conference theme, choose plenary guest speakers, create performances and work with Global Kids staff to develop and conduct interactive workshops for their peers. Each year, the conference educates over 600 youth, educators and others about such topics as politics, environmental sustainability and global conflict, among others.
Global Kids serves over 700 students directly five days a week through its afterschool programs, and thousands more are reached through peer education activities and Global Kids’ presence online.
The majority of Global Kids’ students attend schools with poor attendance and low graduation rates, in underserved and politically marginalized communities that face significant challenges from poverty, crime and unemployment. The demographic mix differs according to each school, but is primarily African American and Latino.
Program and Staffing Structure
Like most afterschool programs, Global Kids staff bring a variety of experience levels in working with youth and a range of background knowledge in a number of different fields, including education, international relations, political science, the arts, and sociology. Staff have at minimum a Bachelor’s degree, and many have advanced degrees. Prior to working for Global Kids, all staff must have demonstrated some interest in and passion for global issues, such as a study abroad experience, volunteer or internship work with an NGO, or participation in their campus Amnesty International chapter. This mix of different people and skills provides for a collaborative learning environment where content experts in international affairs may collaborate with a theater educator to create a new global learning project or activity.
Global Kids Trainers and Senior Trainers co-facilitate activities, with an average of 2-5 staff per site and a staff to student ratio of 1:15 or less. Global Kids Youth Leaders who have been with Global Kids for at least a year can elect to serve as Junior Trainers and help coordinate and plan for parts of the program. The Junior Trainers meet once a month with staff at the site to plan out Global Kids activities, and the duties they will take on. In addition, two youth representatives serve on the board of the organization.
The Global Kids curriculum is designed as a series of 1.5-2 hour workshops, each focused on a global issue. The workshops incorporate active learning in the form of small group work, games, role playing, and the use of media/technology to bring issues to life. The goal is to engage youth participants in interactive activities, to ensure they are active in sharing knowledge about, discussing, and debating the issues at hand. Although workshops are the core component of Global Kids’ work, they incorporate field trips, guest speakers, and other elements to help youth engage with critical issues. Youth across all programs are required to develop and implement substantive peer education projects, from workshops, to movie screenings and discussions, to mini-conferences, and educational theater pieces, as well as social action or service projects.
All Global Kids curricula are developed in-house by their program staff each year, drawing upon Global Kids’ extensive body of knowledge and materials developed over the past 20 years. Staff members first look to their core learning outcomes and competencies, which include content, skills, and experiences. Based on these, and taking into account youth input on what they want to learn, Global Kids staff map out a series of themes for the year and divide these up according to individuals’ expertise and interest. Once a curriculum is developed for that theme, they share with other sites so everyone does not have to constantly create new curricula. They also allow for flexibility in case there is a global issue that comes up during the year that they want to address.
Global Kids believes that it is important to have a presence during the school day at every site. In some cases, they collaborate with teachers to provide in-classroom sessions during school hours, or assist with goal setting and student engagement. For example, they may work with a department to integrate global issues and current events into what students are learning as part of social studies, global history, participation in government, or health classes. Other times they help implement school-wide events and programs. Global Kids staff frequently helps to implement school-wide activities including youth-led conferences, career days, awareness days, and more. Global Kids employees are often members of school leadership teams and pupil personnel support teams at the schools in which they work, and are seen as integral partners rather than providers of drop in services.