Monday, April 12, 2010

Covering The Mic: Improving Teen Literacy to Create Leaders of Tomorrow

Philanthropic Brand Management Agency Launches Teen Literacy Project

Now more than ever, celebrities are lending their names to charitable efforts and are creating foundations in an effort to give back. One of those celebrities is hip hop artist Common, who launched the Common Ground Foundation in 2007 that created an Emmy award winning HIV testing awareness campaign, an online book club for youth, and successfully established partnerships with top brands such as Cartier and American Airlines.

Now, the former Executive Director and co-founder of Common's foundation, Jodie Blum, has created Image of Change, a philanthropic brand management agency that manages the philanthropic efforts of high profile individuals and celebrities. In her experience working with these individuals and their charitable efforts, Jodie shared with me, "our agency is a support system for people that really want to partake in philanthropy but don't necessarily have the time, the resources or the understanding of how much it takes to run a nonprofit, and to have a nonprofit." In her many years of working in the non profit sector, she's often seen the best intentions fall short of their goals. Jodie's agency provides foundation management, due diligence on her clients charitable efforts, event planning, fundraising development and more.

On April 1st, Image of Change announced the launch of their signature program, Covering the Mic, a youth leadership initiative that aims to reduce the rate of teenage illiteracy. The program works alongside the National Education Association's Read Across America, Youth Service America and to inspire youth to write and report on how they plan to make a positive difference in their communities and around the world. Mentors guide youth reporters on story development, writing and interviewing skills, and peer to peer interviews are then conducted in written, video or photo journalistic formats. Their stories are posted monthly on the Image of Change website and affiliated partner social network sites. View a video about the project HERE.

Videos are then produced for teens, which will help improve critical thinking, basic composition, spoken word, poetry and interview essays. In addition, a second video will be produced to instruct educators how to use and implement modern social technology in the classroom, such as flip cams, iPhone apps, social media networking, blogs, YouTube, Flickr, and Ning. Videos will then be shared with educators, parents, youth and program partners.

Image of Change is currently participating in the Pepsi Refresh Project in the $250,000 grant category. The Pepsi Refresh Project, which provides $1.3 million in grants to worthy endeavors each month, would provide Image of Change with funds to create and foster programs that will provide many important elements such as: providing teens the tools to improve literacy, provide teachers with resources and training kits required to assist in making modern social technology a vital tool and resource for classroom learning and provide funding for teen service projects.

To vote for the Covering the Mic project, visit each day for the month of April and visit their Facebook page at For more information about Image of Change, visit

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