Celebrating 20 years supporting youth at the centre of change: Youth-led creativity, innovation, and optimism in challenging times
OTTAWA, June 15, 2022 – It’s a milestone year for Digital Opportunity Trust as we celebrate 20 years of empowering young women and men to become leaders of change in their communities. To mark the anniversary, we’re launching a six-month campaign to recognize many of the youth leaders, DOT team members, and partners who have made the past two decades a rewarding journey.
Headquartered in Canada, DOT boasts an extensive network of youth across Africa and the Middle East. Our programs support young people with the tools, knowledge, networks, and self-confidence to make a positive impact in the places where they live. With the support of partners like Cisco, IBM, the Mastercard Foundation, the Government of Canada, and hundreds of local community organizations, DOT’s youth leaders have reached over 3 million people in 25 countries — and counting!
DOT was founded in 2002 with a fundamental belief in the potential of youth — when equipped with the power of technology — to lead change and build a better, more inclusive world. Staying true to our youth-led, peer-to-peer model, we have grown to become a leading social enterprise that designs and implements projects with youth that focus on upskilling, mindset shifts, and community impact.
An example of DOT’s work is Daring to Shift, a partnership with the Government of Canada. It’s a program co-designed with young people that will support over 1,000 local youth — 70% of whom are women — in creating digital jobs, digital businesses, and local enterprises that respond to community-based needs in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, Ghana, Jordan, and Lebanon. These young leaders will go on to impact 40,000 of their fellow community members and peers.
As we reflect on the issues that the world currently faces, we know our work is far from done. Never before has there been such urgency to amplify the voices, energy, and creativity of youth.
Though technology has connected us more than ever, the gender digital divide persists. Online communities are not always accessible or safe spaces for women and marginalized groups. Income inequality impedes progress. And while climate change, conflict and resulting displacement, and the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic all have global repercussions, they have a disproportionate impact on youth, women, refugees, and vulnerable communities. There is much to do, and it is DOT’s mission to work closely with each of these groups.
DOT is proud of the deep relationships that we have formed with these young leaders. Supported as coaches, mentors, and peers, they have earned the trust of their communities. This is our role as an organization — not prescribing futures, but enabling young people to take charge of theirs; combining participatory learning with confidence-building and responsible attitudes to encourage the long-term behavioural changes that underpin sustained community impact. We put power and resources in the hands of young people and walk beside them in their journeys.
Says Janet Longmore, Founder and CEO of DOT: “During this time of unprecedented global challenges, I’m cautiously optimistic for the future because of what I see in our network of youth. For 20 years, DOT has witnessed thousands of daring young social innovators overcoming adversity to create responsive local solutions that are inclusive of all. At this critical moment in time, we need to engage the creativity, persistence, and entrepreneurial energy of all youth more than ever. Joy and hope are never futile, especially when we have so many sources of inspiration to reimagine a new shared future.”
And so, amidst global unrest, we pause to celebrate. There is uplifting merit in recognizing all that #DOTYouth have accomplished, how far we have come together, and how we can commit to the future”.
In the coming months, please follow the DOT website and social media as we launch:
- A video series featuring #DOTYouth past and present, DOT team members, and our partners. Have a DOT memory to share? This is an invitation to participate!
- A case study that probes DOT’s evolution and outlines our disruptive development model that has been co-designed with youth. As an educational resource, it will explore what we’ve learned — through our successes and failures — in 20 years of partnering with young people and global leaders.
- Diverse digital engagement: competitions, co-design opportunities, and more!
With the foundation of tools, technology, and networks that has been developed over the past 20 years, DOT is always looking ahead, innovating. We urge you to join us and our movement of young people as we build a future powered by the lessons of the past two decades, driven by a network of strategic partnerships, and inspired by the courage and resilience of youth.
2022-06-15: Our 20th anniversary campaign kicked off today with an event in Jordan, the country where DOT was first launched. The event was attended by youth, key partners, and the DOT leadership team. It’s the first of our virtual and in-person convenings to come.