November 29, 2014

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Cultivating Creative Expression: Adobe Empowers the Next Generation to Create Change

Creativity is essential for problem solving and innovation -- and its emphasis in the education system continues to diminish.

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By Michelle Yates, Director of CSR, Adobe and Executive Director of the Adobe Foundation

At Adobe, we believe young people have a unique and valuable perspective to share about the challenges we face as a global society.

We launched the Adobe Youth Voices Aspire Awards competition in 2012 to give youth a platform to express their vision for driving change in local communities. Now in its second year, this effort has empowered thousands of young people around the world to create compelling digital content that inspires positive action.

Leveraging a variety of storytelling formats, competition participants address complex social and environmental topics, such as poverty and climate change. While their entries represent a diverse range of issues and ideas, they’re unified by a focus on finding solutions. Following are a few of my favorite entries from last year’s competition.

Keep Pushing

music video Keep PushingThis music video created by five young men in Redwood City, California, promotes a message of hope in the face of adversity. It tells the story of inner city youth who face considerable obstacles in their daily lives and encourages others in the same situation to “keep pushing” toward their goals. The entry won a first place honor in last year’s competition and has been exhibited at the Sarajevo Film Festival and various events in the Bay Area.

On Moroccan Women’s Condition

Created by eight young people in Casablanca, Morocco, this documentary short film aims to raise awareness of violence against women and promote equality. It captures the candid commentary of community members who urge others to consider how they’d want their mothers, sisters, and daughters to be treated. The entry won an audience award last year and was also exhibited at the Sarajevo Film Festival.

Nothing’s Ever Permanent in Foster Care

foster careIn this audio entry, Michael Jacobson addresses the challenges faced by teenagers in the foster care system. Michael entered foster care in New York City at age 13 and lived in seven different homes over a four-year period. During a portion of this time, he documented his experience, capturing the range of emotions he felt as he transitioned into and out of foster homes. The compelling personal story he created won a second place prize in 2012 and aired on WNYC radio.

Opportunity for Change: A Platform for Young Voices

For this year’s Aspire Awards competition, we received entries from more than 1,000 students in 51 countries. It’s been an honor for me to participate by helping to select our finalists. Through this experience, I’ve been able to see firsthand how powerfully young people are able to express themselves when provided with the right resources. The Aspire Awards competition gives them the opportunity to gain hands-on digital experience while engaging their peers and millions of other creative problem solvers around the world.

The Aspire Awards competition is an extension of our Adobe Youth Voices (AYV) program, which aims to provide youth with the inspiration, training, tools and technology needed to ignite their creative confidence and empower them to use their voice in both the classroom and their communities.

AYV program participants gain important skills, such as self-expression, ideation, collaboration, flexibility, and persistence, skills that will help them become more deeply engaged in their education in the short term, by sparking their passion and interest and better prepared to succeed in an ever Adobe Youth Voicesevolving global economy, in the long term. Since AYV launched in 2006, more than 125,000 youth have participated in the program.

AYV is brought to life by more than 5,000 educators in 58 countries, and supported by several nonprofit partners and Adobe employees or AYV Champions. At the local level, AYV Champions work with educators providing volunteer services, job shadow days and other unique opportunities for AYV students to present and share their media work as a way to support and inspire youth.

A Curriculum Built to Create Confidence

At the heart of AYV is an educational methodology, the AYV curriculum, which facilitates educators in the media-making process. As part of the curriculum, educators help young people identify an issue they care about, and express a point of view on that issue by creating original media content – from videos to essays, animation to music – all through the use of Adobe software and tools.

This process, which lives at the core of our AYV program, helps us deliver on our mission of igniting Creative Confidence by developing young people’s innate ability to harness their creative skills to solve problems.

This process is also central to Adobe’s efforts to catalyze a conversation around creativity in the broader education field. And, by empowering youth and involving employees, AYV has become a critical driver of Adobe’s overall corporate social responsibility commitments.  

Yet, creativity is in a state of crisis, with less and less emphasis on art, design and other creative fields in education among youth.

It's particularly worrying since creativity is essential for problem solving and innovation -- and its emphasis in the education system continues to diminish. By increasing creativity in education, my team at Adobe believes we will better equip young people to be the problem solvers, critical thinkers and leaders of tomorrow.

Creativity is – and always has been – central to Adobe’s business and brand. Our products enable people around the world to express themselves through technology, especially remarkable young artists like those found in this year’s Aspire Awards competition.

I encourage you to visit the Aspire Awards website and review this year’s finalists and winners, learn more about our broader AYV program and explore opportunities to get involved. We can help build a bright future for the next generation only by working together.

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by CSRwire contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of CSRwire.

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