This week we have told stories about the UNICEF’s Next Generation field trip with the Burundi Innovation Lab in April. The remote volunteer opportunity and working trip these eight NextGeners participated in is just the start of a revolutionary partnership between the UNICEF Innovation Unit and the public. For the first time, individuals have the opportunity to lend their particular expertise to support UNICEF programs in the field and have the chance to impact programs that could change the lives of children and entire communities forever. The success of this collaboration has inspired the development of similar opportunities in countries like Vanuatu and Kosovo, and hopefully many more to come.
This pilot experience and those that will come after demonstrate the strategy and ingenuity of the UNICEF Innovation Unit-bringing great minds, ideas, expertise and knowledge together to formulate new approaches to help make kids’ lives better. Similar to the concept behind the UNICEF Innovation Labs themselves wherein youth and community members have the opportunities to develop solutions to unexamined challenges, this remote volunteering experience allows UNICEF to leverage the skills and expertise of new parties and enable their transformation towards change-makers and influencers. The goal of the Innovation Unit is to create solutions that are sustainable and scalable- and this project allows the public, specifically through UNICEF’s Next Generation, to help us do just this.
The results of this experience were solutions and processes that the Burundi Innovation Lab can use as launching points for even more progress. This two month pilot program, at minimum, helped the lab staff shave hours off their data visualization daily and could enable 500,000 new households to have access to electricity in just two months! We look forward to what will come by partnering UNICEF’s access, reach and knowledge with entrepreneurs, technologists and specialists looking to do what they can to help spark innovation, sustainable solutions and address some of the world’s most important challenges.
If you are excited by what you read here and want to support programs like this, good news! Right now, you can support UNICEF’s Innovation Labs and programs through Star Wars: Force for Change, a brand new initiative from Disney and Lucasfilm in collaboration with Bad Robot, that allows fans to contribute at Omaze.com/StarWars for a chance to appear in Star Wars: Episode VII, while benefiting UNICEF’s innovative work worldwide.
If you want to learn more about UNICEF’s Next Generation and/ or join our UNICEF community, please visit www.unicefusa.org/nextgeneration.
By Casey D. Rotter
Deputy Director & Founder UNICEF’s Next Generation