The morning of September 1, 2015, Executive Director and Founder of Nerdy Media, La Toia Brown, emailed her resignation letter and walked away from a salary, benefits, and…(gulp)…a pension in order to start a nonprofit.
The following two-year-long journey was one of setbacks, failures, rejection letters, and self-doubt. Until, in December 2017, the Hive Chicago Fund for Connected Learning selected Nerdy Media as a Playlist Design Challenge winner.
Awarded a grant of $5,000 and technical assistance to build and launch a playlist for the LRNG platform, La Toia immediately started designing an ambitious vision. Working throughout the holiday season, she outlined the Podcast Novice and Podcast Nerd playlists which guides learners through every aspect of podcasting.
Project phases included:
- Curriculum development
- Creation of a real-world youth-produced podcast
- Media production
- Impact reporting
In February 2018, six youth were invited to assist with the curriculum design portion of the LRNG project. As with all of Nerdy Media’s real-world project-based programming, they received stipends for their valuable work.
Over six session, our youth (aka The Collective) provided valuable feedback as they learned all about the various types of podcasting.
La Toia scaffolded connected learning, merging personal interests, meaningful relationships, and real-world opportunity. The sessions began with an essential question, What is a Podcast?, and invited Phycologist Laconyer Davis to lead a narrative therapy session and author Jordan Rivers to lead script writing.
Real-World Youth-Produced Podcast
Nerdy Media’s curriculum design phase empowered our youth to produce On Me, a podcast that offers an inside look at Chicago’s youth culture – told and produced by those living it.
The team of young media producers also hosted an On the Table event to preview their episodes and prompt discussion around the issues facing today’s youth.
Once all media production was complete, a partnership with Chicago Youth Centers -Elliott Donnelley Youth Center Bronzeville gave Nerdy Media the opportunity to test the LRNG Podcast Playlists.
University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy’s Community Action Bureau Board noticed Nerdy Media and assigned a team of students to lead an impact evaluation of the project.
This valuable opportunity contributed to the development of a brief survey concluding each playlist. Collecting and assessing qualitative and quantitate data provides Nerdy Media with both valuable insight into the efficacy of the curriculum as well as impact reporting that can be shared with community partners.
In November, Nerdy Media became an official partner of the Chicago Learning Exchange. In joining this community, we look forward to contributing our programming best practices and impact reporting, and participating in actions toward innovative connected learning.
Contact Nerdy Media for programming, content marketing, partnership inquires.