2012: Challenge Accepted

2012 Challenge Accepted logo

2012: Challenge Accepted took place April 12-13, 2012, on the campus of George Washington University. The goal was to prime youth to think about the biggest foreign policy challenges facing our generation leading up to the 2012 elections. We brought together over 150 youth, experts and leaders for two days of seminars and workshops. Check out highlights from the event, below!

Why 2012: Challenge Accepted?

Our planet, nation and generation face incredible challenges. Youth in the US ages 16-24 have the highest unemployment rate in over 50 years; worldwide, the youth unemployment rate is over 2.5 times that of adults. Every year almost 750,000 teens in the US become pregnant, and 82% of these pregnancies are unplanned. Worldwide, 1500 women and girls die from pregnancy-related causes every 24 hours. Over 49 million Americans live in poverty, and worldwide over 1 billion people live on less than $1.25/day. However you slice it, we are at a critical moment.

Youth are often among the most adversely impacted by global challenges. As the generation that will inherit these complex problems, we need the skills to explore, debate and implement new approaches to solving them. As Albert Einstein said, “Problems cannot be solved by the same consciousness that created them.” It is our great challenge to set a new course for achieving a more peaceful, just, healthy and sustainable future.

Young people have tremendous power to affect change. We are brimming with energy, innovation and hope. We brought a US president to power in 2008, and chased an Egyptian one from office in 2011. We are the most global generation yet, and regularly connect with our peers around the world via blogs, Facebook and Youtube. We want to get involved; in a 2011 study, Brookings found that 71% of millennials are interested in public service. We are primed to seize this moment and build a better future for our planet and ourselves. The question is: will we seize the day?

The 2012 elections offer a important opportunity to talk about the US role in the world. This is a moment to challenge not only our leaders but also ourselves to think about what kind of world we’re building. It’s a time to make connections, polish our skills and create change.

The View from the Defense Department: US National Security Priorities: Michèle Flournoy, former Deputy Secretary of Defense for Policy

Millennial Voice, Action and Power: Snapshots from 2012
Daniel Maree, Organizer of the Million Hoodie March for Trayvon Martin
Lacy MacAuley, Occupy DC
Neil Watkins, Action Aid

From Me to We: Harnessing the Power of the Millennial Generation
Karen Richardson, White House Office of Public Engagement
Nick Martin, TechChange
Matt Zellar, Captain, US Army, and Author, Watches Without Time
Christopher Malagisi, American Conservative Union
Saul Garlick, ThinkImpact
Alison McReynolds, US Peace Corps
Frank Fredericks, World Faith
Jordan Wolf, PolicyMic
Karen Showalter, Americans for Informed Democracy

The Real Hunger Games: The Fight for Our Food, Our Climate and Our Future
Roger Thurow, Chicago Council on Global Affairs and Author, Enough
Anuradha Mittal, Oakland Institute
Tonya Rawe, CARE
Katie Campbell, ActionAid USA

Drones, Rogues and Hackers: Rethinking US Security
Jen Buckner, Colonel, US Army, and National Security Agency
Sharon Squassoni, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Gary Barnabo, Young Professionals in Foreign Policy
Frank Femia, Center for Climate and Security
Kalsoom Lakhani, Invest2Innovate
Patrick McDermott, Americans for Informed Democracy

Superpower in Decline or America Resurgent? Prospects for the US in the Global Economy
Maya MacGuineas, Committee for a Responsible Budget, New America Foundation
Noel Ortega, Institute for Policy Studies
Bradley Bosserman, NDN
Patrick Doherty, Smart Strategy Initiative, New America Foundation
Philippe Nassif, Americans for Informed Democracy and US Global Leadership Coalition

Millennial Priorities for Global Justice: Indigenous Peoples, LBGT Rights, Disabilities and Genocide
Emira Woods, Foreign Policy in Focus, Institute for Policy Studies
Emily White Hat, National Congress of American Indians
Mark Bromley, Council for Global Equality
Esme Grant, US International Council on Disabilities
Daniel Solomon, STAND

Investing in Millenials Worldwide: Preparing Youth for the 21st Century Workplace
Jim Riker, Beyond the Classroom Program, University of Maryland
Noor Shoufani, Education for Employment Foundation
Taekia Blackwell, Harry Potter Alliance
Paul Kruchoski, US Department of State
Naima Ramos-Chapman, Campus Progress

Arab Summer: Emerging Democracies, Political Islam and the Power of Youth in the Middle East and North Africa
Lazar Berman, American Enterprise Institute
Vanessa Zuabi, Partners for a New Beginning, The Aspen Institute
Ahmad Soliman, Roosevelt Institute Campus Network
Dillon Tatum, PhD Candidate, George Washington University
Loretta Greene, GreeneStrategies

Voices of a Global Generation: Why We Care about US Global Engagement
Folabi Olagbaju, Amnesty International USA
Taylor Jo Isenberg, Roosevelt Institute Campus Network
Daniel Solomon, STAND
Lacy MacAuley, Institute for Policy Studies and Occupy DC
Charlie Harris, Americans for Informed Democracy
Nicole Goldin, US Agency for International Development

Zombie Crisis Mapping Simulation. TechChange. Zombies have invaded Washington DC! It’s up to you and your team to develop an effective strategy through a combination of crisis mapping and mobile communications technologies to save the remaining citizens from future attacks and provide treatment to those in need. TechChange is a Washington DC based organization that specializes in training leaders to leverage relevant technologies for sustainable social change. Through an interactive 1.5 hour simulation, participants will gain tangible skills in managing open source technology tools such as Ushahidi, FrontlineSMS, OpenStreetMap as well as strategies for their effective use. Space is limited to 15.

Strategic Communications for Global Leadership in the 21st Century. Communications designed to convince, not fight. Truman National Security Project. This election cycle, voters are being bombarded with information from multiple sources and a variety of platforms.  Winning an argument isn’t about facts and figures. It is about changing hearts and minds. Learn the brain science behind changing peoples’ minds and the techniques the pros use to understand how issues will play out in public debate. Put yourself to the test and expand the power and reach of your message in this crucial election year.

The Power of the Prototype: Design for Social Enterprise. Join the ThinkImpact Team, led by CEO, Saul Garlick, for a hands-on workshop that explores the power of design in unlocking your potential as a social entrepreneur. Just as ThinkImpact participants prototype innovative solutions to challenges in rural African communities, workshop participants will be taken through the three phases of ThinkImpact’s curriculum (Immersion, Inspiration, Innovation) in order to uncover exciting new opportunities. Get ready to roll up your sleeves and engage with ThinkImpact’s approach to innovation through the prototype process.

All Together Now… Youth advocates inspiring collaboration. Meg Boyle, The Connect U.S. Fund. In the non-profit foreign policy community, it can be challenging to get organizations to work together on collaborative campaigns. Working across campuses, joining DC to communities across the country, convening diverse coalitions, and forming friendships, young people have developed new models for working together and achieving real change. This breakout will discuss questions including: What best practices can you share, and what lessons have you learned, about working with other organizations or youth from different backgrounds? What collaboration lessons from youth organizing do you think more organizations should take to heart? What support do young people and youth-led organizations need to foster collaboration that might be different than the needs of other organizations? How can we create more—and more effective—collaborations between youth-led initiatives and other organizations?

Fan Activism 101 – From Popular Culture to Real Change… Taekia Blackwell, Managing Director, Harry Potter Alliance. Can you think of a book, a movie, or a TV show that challenges you to think about the world more complexly and get involved with certain issues? When was the last time you were inspired to get out there and fight against injustices after hearing an impassioned speech from Harry, Buffy, or Katniss?. Using a popular text or narrative such as Doctor Who, The Hunger Games, or Harry Potter, this workshop will create a campaign and follow the steps it takes to go from page (or screen) to real action. From choosing a real world issue, to creating an engaging platform for the campaign, to using the chosen story to inspire change, participants will learn how to use popular culture as a starting point to bring attention to important problems and their solutions.

Building Your Brand and Fundraising for Your Cause. James Figetakis, President of the JMF Group. How is your organization’s mission and brand differentiated from others competing for funding? Who are your key clients and stakeholders? This interactive and participative workshop focuses on how to maximize fundraising through marketing and branding techniques, mission and vision clarification, key message and talking point strategies, and multi-media channel definition to reach your target audiences.

You Are a Thought Leader, Now Tell the World What You Think. Sue Dorfman, Principal, WorldViewsMedia. So, you’re about to leave the 2012: Challenge Accepted conference more committed than ever to expanding the conversation on your key issues.  This interactive workshop will give you skills for translating your thoughts and expertise into an op-ed or letter to the editor and then promoting these pieces using social media.

Secrets to Making Effective Videos and Podcasts. Alex Turnacliff, The Stanley Foundation. Using video and other multimedia is an effective and engaging way to spread your message. This workshop will introduce practical skills and knowledge needed to produce concise, informative and creative videos, whatever your previous experience level. We will also look at the importance of messaging and being aware of your target audience.

Are You Making A Difference? An Introduction to Advocacy Planning and Evaluation. David Devlin-Foltz, Director, Advocacy Planning and Evaluation Program, The Aspen Institute. Advocates want to make a difference. It’s why we do what we do. But defining and assessing the impact of advocacy efforts is beyond the reach of most conventional evaluation tools. Why? Because there are so many factors outside the advocate’s control: a scandal tarnishes the leading spokesperson for your cause; a sudden economic blow makes funding even tighter; a natural disaster grabs all the headlines the day of your big civil disobedience event. But careful planning and a willingness to revisit your assumptions and “theory of change” can position you to learn and adjust your strategy and tactics. Join us for an introduction to some first principles and some practical tools from one of the advocacy evaluation field’s leading innovators.

Education for All: Using Advocacy and Building Political Will to Make Education a Development Priority. Brian Callahan, Global Campaign for Education. There are nearly 70 million children around the world who are unable to attend primary school because poverty, conflict, and disease, depriving them of economic opportunities. In this workshop we will discuss the struggle to get children into school, and how we as individuals we can play a role in helping to achieve access to quality education for ALL by engaging in advocacy and building political will. This workshop will focus on identifying key constituency groups, building a coalition of like-minded supporters; and leveraging support to create political will and affect policy change.

Applying Network Theory to Advocacy and Campaigns. Karen Showalter, Americans for Informed Democracy and Oil Change International. Come to explore how loose networks are changing our world. We’ll take a look at the basics of network theory, and how groups like Avaaz, MoveOn, the Obama Campaign and terrorist networks have successfully built communities that grow and thrive organically. We’ll also spend time developing an action plan for your community, including how to foster effective relationships, leaders and communications, gather feedback and measure success.

Huge thanks to the many organizations and individuals who are helping make this event happen!
Event sponsors:
ActionAid USA
Americans for Informed Democracy

Host organization:
Semester in Washington Politics of George Washington University

Media sponsor:
Diplomatic Courier magazine

Event partners:
Roosevelt Institute Campus Network
The Connect U.S. Fund
The Stanley Foundation

Advocacy Planning and Evaluation Program, The Aspen Institute
Al Mubadarah: Arab Empowerment Initiative
Beyond the Classroom Program, University of Maryland
Campus Progress
Education for Employment Foundation
Harry Potter Alliance
i21 Strategies LLC
Institute for Policy Studies
One World Youth Project
Oxfam America
Refugees International
Society for International Development
Thinking Beyond Borders
Truman National Security Project
World Faith
Young Professionals in Foreign Policy

Chef Geoff’s
Subway: 1959 E St. NE, Washington, DC

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