Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google, has announced it will support spunout to establish a peer led empathy education programme over the next two years with a €250k grant. In developing the platform, spunout is building on its work in the areas of digital citizenship, mental health and social-emotional learning to help build a safer digital experience for young people.
The grant will be used to develop and roll out an innovative and scalable empathy education program. Offering a range of peer-led resources designed to help make the internet a kinder space, the empathy-based learning platform will support:
Young people at risk of engaging in harmful or illegal behavior online
Young people at risk of being victims of harmful or illegal behavior online, especially young people targeted with hatespeech and discrimination such as young women, members of LGBTI+ communities, people with disabilities, and BIPOC
Young people who have or might witness harassing, bullying or dangerous behavior online.
The programme will provide a toolkit for building skills in the areas of self compassion, healthy communication, emotional regulation, and conflict resolution and resilience. With grant support from Google.org, spunout’s empathy focused learning programme will deliver a curriculum of interactive, accessible and jargon-free content designed to empower young people with the tools to self-regulate, engender empathy and to engage in bystander intervention online.
Kiki Martire, Director of spunout, commented:
“The core values of spunout are empathy, equity and innovation, and this opportunity to develop the Empathy Academy with grant support from Google.org, is truly at the perfect intersection of all three. Empathy is an undercurrent in all of our work; empathy for self, empathy for and between young people, empathy in action, empathy in information, and empathy online. We want to be a platform that facilitates the true understanding of empathy, the practice and spread of empathy amongst young people and their communities, and providing quality information as a tool for building empathy. The Academy will enable spunout to empower and support young people to navigate their digital worlds in ever safer and healthier ways, and to connect with each other empathetically in every step of that process.”
Speaking at today’s announcement, Ryan Meade, Public Policy & Government Relations Manager, Google, said:
“At Google, we are committed to playing our part in ensuring that the wellbeing and safety of young people is central to all digital learning experiences. Keeping people safe online is at the heart of everything we do, and we continue to innovate as new challenges emerge. We’re also committed to supporting spunout to foster digital wellbeing and teaching empathy online. Peer led support plays a huge role in equipping children and young people with the right knowledge and tools to navigate the online world. I am delighted to be here today to announce our grant from Google.org and I look forward to the roll out of this innovative empathy focused learning platform.”
On 21st March, to mark the inception of spunout’s empathy learning platform, spunout’s Mental Health content editor, Joseph Morning, will lead a virtual panel discussion of spunout Action Panel members and volunteers to explore their experiences of empathy (or lack thereof) online. Kiki Martire, Director of spunout, and Almudena Lara, Senior Manager, Child Safety at Google, will reflect on the need for empathy based interventions and why Google.Org is supporting spunout in this work.
As part of the announcement, spunout asked a number of Ireland’s young people [aged 16 -25] what empathy means to them, see what they said here.