To close the year, the Société Générale Foundation's governing board met on 18 November. It is time to look back on it, while the event that marked this year is not yet behind us… This is also the opportunity of renewing its capacity to listen to the charity sector’s needs and help its partners to face the crisis. In the context of doing that, the Foundation’s board decided to sustain 6 partners in France, Germany but also in Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Cameroon.
Among them, for professional integration:
- The School 101 de Lyon: it offers a high-level formation that deals with digital and communication skills.
- Empow’Her: for a project that focuses on the professional integration and self-empowerment of women by creating a community and supporting their capacities of undertaking. This program takes place in 11 regions of Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso.
- Rejoué: for a session that works on professional integration by up-cycling and selling low-priced secondhand toys.
Two charities obtain their first support for educational projects:
- Agir pour l’Ecole: the project includes digital tools in its learning process.
- Plan Internatioanl: a program for both girls and boys that allows the students from Youndé, Cameroon access to the next grade.
- ReDI School: teaches technology to break down barriers and integrate refugees, its last project has been appreciated by the Foundation, so the Board has decided to support it for one more year.
Let’s learn more about this project through Pierluigi Delgiudice interview, who is in charge of « Digital Kids & Youth program - Berlin ».
The Societe Generale Foundation just confirmed its support to ReDI School for another year. Could you tell us more about the “Kids and Youth program” you are conducting in Berlin and what is the goal of this program ?
ReDI School of Digital Integration is excited to collaborate with Societe Generale Foundation in our mission to accelerate job market integration of refugee youth in Germany.
Through learning 21st-century skills, the project fosters social inclusion of young newcomers in Berlin. Thanks to the program, already in its first year (2019), 200 youth got new digital skills and became part of a caring and vibrant community of newcomers, volunteers and Germany businesses.
The project is split in two parts. One focussing on Kids (8-16 year olds) and one on Youth (18-30 year olds).
In the “Digital Kids Program” we explore the world of coding and organise fun and playful workshops on the weekends. All the activities combine a curiosity-driven and inclusive approach, which help us to establish a trustful and fruitful relationship with the kids and their families. We trigger their interest in technology and inspire them to explore more on their own.
In the “Digital Youth Program” we offer digital training for young adults. We teach digital literacy, supporting our students to learn the basic tech skills from scratch in order to use a computer efficiently. All our learners in the Digital Youth Program have a migration background and come to us with no previous experience with computers.
After only two semesters of weekly classes they are already capable of using Microsoft Office and other vital digital applications.
On top of this, our youth learners participate in several career workshops where they learn how to search and apply for jobs. Human resources experts coach the students in soft skills such as how to write a CV, how to write a motivational letter, how to create a Linkedin profile and how to navigate the German job market.
A key component of our community is the volunteers. Indeed, we would not be able to carry out our mission, without them! Almost 100 incredible volunteers support the Digital Kids & Youth Program throughout the year, sharing their knowledge as teachers, trainers or coaches. Their astonishing commitment and willingness to help our learners is a real driver of integration. We call them Heroes, not professors!
ReDI School’s main activity is to provide vulnerable adults with quality training and relationships in the digital sector. Why have you chosen to conduct programs to the benefit of kids and teenagers ?
ReDI School uses technology to break down barriers and connect the leaders of tomorrow, so the decision to include tweens and teens in our program came natural to us. As a school we are committed to ensure that all our participants will make a positive contribution to society in the future. For this to happen, children and teenagers must be part of this process. How can we talk about the future if tomorrow's leaders are missing at the table?
We strongly believe that in order to have a more inclusive and representative society we must start from the first years of compulsory school. By introducing students early to the digital world, we believe we can help narrow the gap between socio-economic classes and secure a sustainable and fair future for all. We believe technology can help break down inequalities in society and that education can enable new generations to tackle global challenges with courage, initiative and fresh ideas.
Unfortunately, a large proportion of young migrants do not have access to vital 21st century skills and also lack access to sufficient equipment, infrastructure and social networks. ReDI School’s priority is to create a safe and inspiring learning space, where kids and youth can meet like-minded peers, learn new skills and make new friends.
Speaking about integration is boring - however, getting a new friend from a different country is exciting! The inclusion that we experience at ReDI School, is transversal. It has no name, race or religion. We build a place for students who are curious to learn, where they also get to experience new ways of thinking and other ways of living.
This year has been a difficult one, what are the challenges you had to face and what did you change in your methodology/organization in order to conduct your program in the best possible way?
At ReDI School we see challenges as opportunities and we always work to get the best out of any given situation. Having a problem-solving mindset has been a key component developing a learning organisation since the beginning of ReDI School 5 years ago. We continued our steep learning curve when Covid-19 hit Europe in March 2020.
The challenges were several: lack of laptop and mice, poor internet connection in refugee camps and at home with our learners, and no experience with online conferencing tools with our students. In less than two weeks, we were able to re-organise the semester to go fully online. We used all our creativity and involved our community to brainstorm how to better understand the learners’ needs during the lockdown.
In the transition from offline to online classes we shared homework via WhatsApp with the students, delivered laptops and surf sticks, and prepared the teachers to switch the format of the sessions. Moreover, homemade video tutorials, Powerpoints and “how to join Hangout or Zoom meetings” test calls were offered to our students. It was fun, exciting and inspiring to feel the deep commitment and desire of our community to stay together and to help each other. Eventually, delivering laptops or surf sticks to all our students in need, gave them hope and increased their motivation to commit to our courses.
We have learned that each student has a different learning path and, in order not to discriminate against anyone, we need to double-check what their individual experience is and offer them alternatives to reach the level of their classmates. We have therefore started to offer one-to-one coaching sessions, where each student has the chance to repeat the sessions at their own learning pace guided by one Superhero (aka. teacher).
The Covid-19 lockdown has underlined the gap of access to technologies and tech education even more. It is more important now than ever, to make sure that no-one is left behind.
What are your perspectives for the coming year?
Thanks to the significant support from Societe Generale Foundation we now have the possibility to strengthen what we have built in the last 12 months and to further improve the quality of our service. Co-creation is a pillar at ReDI School. Hence, we constantly strive to involve our community and collect as much feedback as possible throughout the semester. We organize feedback sessions with students and teachers. We ask our stakeholders to submit monthly feedback forms and we organize design thinking workshops to tackle our challenges together. All of this allows us to tailor our program based on the changing needs of our participants and to enlarge the impact of our activities. In 2021 we hope to again have the possibility of teaching in person and to finally see our school full of people again, with the required social distancing and health-and safety measures in place.
For the upcoming semester, which will start in March 2021, we are planning new services such as one-to-one mentoring in job searching, company visits, career workshops and fun activities, such as treasure hunts around Berlin (*to practice how to use Google Maps ) summer parties and museum visits.
While respecting all the Covid-19 restrictions we want to allow our students to share time with their colleagues studying and involving themselves in the German society. We aim to reach more students, to organize more workshops for children and to establish new partnerships to offer internships or traineeship to our youth learners. In case we might need to wait longer to start offline courses again, we can proudly say that we are “ReDI for it”. Right now we have protocols, strategies and infrastructures which would allow us to run another online semester successfully and with great impact.