Teenagers around the world are often expected to assume adult responsibilities, yet their voices are among the most silenced, underrepresented, and misunderstood. The Advice Project is committed to changing that, one teen voice at a time. Since 2014 we’ve offered media, writing, and adventure programs that focus on amplifying teen voices as we teach gender and conservation studies. The Advice Project has reached 250 students in four countries (the USA, Cameroon, Peru, and Guadeloupe), and importantly, because we doesn’t work within a vacuum, we’ve formed global partnerships with organizations that already do great work with teens and youth.
In The Advice Project’s Media and Writing programs, we teach teens how to write powerful op-eds that partner problems with solutions. Our young writers offer the over-saturated adult media fresh perspectives on important global issues with their essays and opinion pieces. You can read some of our students’ op-eds here. We also teach our students how to write more reflective, personal letters, here.
The Advice Project is excited to have STIR Journal (Young STIR) as a publishing partner that also publishes work by some of our teens. Some of our articles by teens have been reposted to The Advice Project’s blog on The Huffington Post, All Digitocracy, and Sorry Watch.
The Advice Project workshops and classes are democratic in nature, with each participant helping to develop the guidelines necessary for making a safe, healthy sharing environment. Most of our sessions involve group discussions that partner problems with solutions. We believe that in addition to local classes, affording youth the opportunity to take international classes broadens horizons – also, leading economics have determined that individuals who leave and then return to their villages, towns, and cities increase the economic and intellectual growth of their communities. Therefore, we offer international summits and classes and raise funds to provide travel scholarships for low-income youth.
Do you think your program would be a great Advice Project partner? Drop us a line.
Examples of Advice Project partnerships:
Gender Danger – Bamenda, Cameroon
In 2014, The Advice Project partnered with Gender Danger, a non-profit organization that supports the eradication of gender-based violence in Bamenda, Cameroon. The Advice Project’s Cameroon Program Coordinator, Fomuso Blessing Nabila, leads two weekly Media and Writing classes for sixteen students. Using Advice Project curriculum and Advice Project methods for creating a safe learning space, students learn how to write opinion editorials (op-eds), and they are scripting videos about the gender and conservation issues they believe are most problematic within their community. You can read an example of work by one of our students, here (it was reposted in The Huffington Post).
Teens taking classes with The Advice Project are eligible to receive scholarships to attend our annual leadership summit. In 2015, two of our teens in our Bamenda class attended the 2015 Advice Project Leadership and Empowerment Summit in Peru. You can read about some of their experiences, here.
August, 2015 – Advice Project founder, Melissa Banigan, was invited to be a keynote speaker at the Millennial Empowerment Conference (MEC) in Bamenda, Cameroon. In addition to giving a talk to over 500 participants about how storytelling can be used to amplify change, she led a workshop for all of the students in Fomuso’s class and also started to work with the two students who attended our summit in Peru on a journalistic video project (coming soon!).
November, 2015 – The Advice Project launched a mentorship program that partners professional writers from the USA, Canada, and Singapore with our students in Bamenda.
Different Directions – Manhattan, New York
Since September, 2014, Different Directions has hosted ten Advice Project classes, including our Media and Writing Class (the class that forms the backbone of all of our classes). We’ve taught a travel literature course, a feminist-grounded AP Art History class, and each term, we teach the wildly popular class, Uppity Witches:
Uppity Witches: A class for pre-teens interested in witches, warlocks, feminism, and gender equality, we talk about witch hunts and the treatment of women across times and cultures, from prehistory, through the Middle Ages in Europe, to West Africa in contemporary times. We look towards art, literature (Shakespeare! Grimm!) and pop culture (Disney!) to help us think outside of the box, and at all times, we consider patriarchy and what the idea of “the third degree” means in our own society. In this class, students become revisionists as they rewrite plays to make them more feminist, and then they stage a performance.
- Watch videos of four of our students, Talullah, Jennie Belle, Alexander, and Naomi, who, as their final project, rewrote the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast in order to present Belle as a budding feminist.
- And watch this video of Katherine, who tackled Roald Dahl’s story, The Witches, by providing a backstory about the cruel Grand High Witch. In Katherine’s story, the Grand High Witch was badly bullied as a child, and was also the subject of witch hunts in an undisclosed country in Africa (in our class, we examined witch hunts in Cameroon and Tanzania)
2015 Advice Project Global Leadership and Empowerment Summit – Tambopata, Peru
During the summer of 2015, The Advice Project led our first Global Leadership and Empowerment Summit for teen girls and women in the Peruvian Amazon at Inotawa Expeditions Ecolodge. Three participants from Cameroon, three from Canada, twelve from the San Isidro School in Puerto Maldonado, Peru, and six from the United States spent their days in writing workshops to tackle issues of gender inequality and conservation, and we went on adventures through the rainforest with seasoned guides to learn more about the rainforest. A full recap of our trip can be found, here. It contains posts about each day of our trip as well as videos and writing by our participants.
Gosier – Guadeloupe
The Advice Project led a month-long writing and adventure intensive (December, 2015 – January 2016) that focused on gender, the history of slavery, and how climate change affects delicate coastal regions. You can read about our visit to the coral reefs at Jacques Cousteau’s Underwater Reserve (with video), and our visit to the Steps of the Slaves, where we learned about who gets to tell a story, and the importance of keeping stories of slavery alive. You can also read a post from one of our students, Henry Lesser, about his experience of Christmas in Guadeloupe (with music video).
In March and April, 2015, The Advice Project formed a partnership with the Monlouis family in Gosier, Guadeloupe. For three weeks, Advice Project founder, Melissa Banigan, taught an informal class to a group of ten teenagers as she started to lay the groundwork necessary to lead a series of media, writing, adventure, and empowerment workshops starting in 2016.
Hope Alive – Ekona, Cameroon
November, 2015 – The Advice Project/Hope Alive Journalism Club for teen girls from the Government High School Ekona, Bethlehem Royal High School Ekona, and the Government Technical College Ekona meets every Wednesday afternoon. Using Advice Project curriculum and Advice Project methods for creating a safe learning space, Hope Alive staff leads the club. Students are learning how to write opinion editorials (op-eds) and they are being given opportunities to share their views about gender equality and conservation with the world.
Jefferson Market Library – Manhattan, New York
September, 2014 – The Advice Project began offering our Media and Writing Class to students at the Jefferson Market Library. Together, we explore global issues that affect girls and women. Students are given weekly readings to help expand their understanding of topics such as how climate change is affecting women, the media’s representation of girls, and gender equality, and learn how to write and pitch op-ed articles to various publications. Examples of student work are here.
Women for Afghan Women – Queens, New York
APRIL, 2014 – The Advice Project led a workshop for 15 pre-teen and teen girls that focused on bullying and stereotypes at Women for Afghan Women in Queens, New York. The participants – mostly first or second generation Afghan immigrants – read letters from the Advice to My Thirteen-Year-Old Self anthology and then wrote their own solution-focused letters. Read more about the workshop, here.
AUGUST, 2014 The Advice Project ran a workshop for about 14 pre-teen and teen girls focusing on the importance of media and the amplification of voices through writing. Info about this workshop, here.
The ROC – New York, New York
FEBRUARY, 2014 – March, 2015 The Advice Project held a series of nine-week long writing, empowerment and global citizenship classes for teen girls aged 12-18 at The ROC in New York City, and also a Teens in America class for all genders. Reading, writing, researching, editing and publishing were the five main areas of literacy emphasized in the classes. Using op-ed articles and letters from Advice to My Thirteen-Year-Old Self as teaching tools, participants explored topics ranging from gender identity and expression, sexually transmitted disease, genocide and war, female genital mutilation, race, privilege, and cutting and self-harm. No problem was raised without also being partnered with a solution. Read more about the first class we offered at The ROC, here.
Fahari Academy Charter School – Brooklyn, New York
FEBRUARY, 2014 For two consecutive weekends, The Advice Project led a writing, global citizenship and empowerment workshop for teen girls and their mothers at Fahari Academy Charter School in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Read more about the experience, here.