As I noted in a May, 2007 blog post, the Citizens League contracted with me to set up, launch, and run the Students Speak Out (SSO) social network, part of their MAP 150 Project. Over the 5 months of my involvement, Erin Sapp, Lars Johnson, Stacy Becker, Kim Farris-Berg, Sean Kershaw and others working on the project gradually assumed more and more responsibilities for the social network until my work on it ended in the fall.
The project flourished, including an expansion to Students Speak Out: Milwaukee. Much of this is chronicled in several articles in the July/August 2009 issue of MN Journal, the Citizens League’s newsletter.
SSO is featured in a paper by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute professor Satish Nambisan titled Platforms for Collaboration (PDF), published in the summer 2009 issue of Stanford Social Innovation Review. The RPI press release on the paper, A New Way to Look at Innovation: Rensselaer Professor Outlines Blueprint for Social Change, summarized SSO:
Nambisan cited Minnesota’s nonprofit Citizens League and its successful use of exploration platforms for its Students Speak Out project, which was launched in 2007 to identify and tackle student issues. The Citizens League invited students to participate in a Web-based forum where bullying emerged as a key concern. The discussion quickly expanded beyond the Web and the students. Parents, journalists, education researchers, school board members, legislators, and city government officials all came together, both online and in offline venues including teacher training programs, student workshops, student video contests, and an annual convention.
The Citizens League developed an issue brief and white paper, and the Minneapolis city government incorporated the students’ feedback in policies to reduce youth violence. In perhaps the greatest indication of SSO’s success, Milwaukee launched a similar initiative in 2008.