DHF wins DML Competition Project:Connect Grant

dml5-2Digital Harbor Foundation AWARDED $9,945 grant to enhance learning online

Digital Harbor Foundation’s WebSlam Won Grant as Part of Larger Effort to Build a Learning Approach for Our Times

Washington, D.C., July 10, 2013 – Digital Harbor Foundation recently was awarded a $9,945 grant to support its WebSlam program for youth this summer after entering a national competition supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, administered by Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC), and carried out in collaboration with Facebook, the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), and Mozilla.

The Project:Connect Summer Youth Programming Competition was part of the 5th annual Digital Media and Learning Competition that is encouraging the development of apps, badges, curricula, and other tools to maximize learning through making the online experience for young people more civil, safe, and empowering.

Digital Harbor Foundation, an organization dedicated to fostering innovation, tech advancement, and entrepreneurship by helping youth develop digital age skills through maker activities and tech workforce development., is launching WebSlam to provide youth with local hands-on learning opportunities to participate in an intensive, week-long experience to develop real-world skills in web development and then put those skills to work to help others. Through the aid of tech coaches and direct instruction, youth participants (irrespective of prior web development background) learn the basics of HTML, CSS, and PHP through developing for the WordPress platform. As a capstone to the week of learning, students undertake to solve the needs of actual clients (nonprofits) who are in need of web solutions in an intensive hackathon-style “WebSlam.†By intertwining the learning of a new skill set (web development) with a service opportunity (helping a non-profit), students are motivated to learn more and inspired to do civic good with their knowledge

“Learning does not happen in a vacuum — it can and should be real,” said Andrew Coy, Executive Director at Digital Harbor Foundation. “Unlike taking a multiple-choice test, WebSlam allows students to make something of real value to real people all while learning a real valuable tech skill set.”

Competing for grants of up to $10,000 each to support single or multi-day summer programs, the 266 applicants from 41 states plus Washington, D.C., included libraries, community organizations, advocacy groups, museums, non-profits, cultural organizations, youth-serving institutions, and arts organizations.

“The competition this year is designed to engage young people in solving a real-world challenge – making the Internet a safer and more powerful place to advance learning,” said Connie Yowell, Director of Education at the MacArthur Foundation. “The ability to meet that challenge will help determine whether education will be more relevant to both young people and the economy where they will be eventually looking for work.”

Proposals were evaluated for their potential to:

  • Actively contribute to the goal of a more equitable, social, safe, and participatory web for all, through the development or testing of new digital tools and learning programs;
  • Bridge social and cultural differences by providing youth with opportunities to learn from and with one another in supportive ways;
  • Provide participatory and hands-on making and learning experiences based on the principles of Connected Learning, an educational approach designed to help prepare young people for a world that is highly networked, technology-enabled, and producing new knowledge at a pace not known to previous generations; and
  • Support online programs and applications that enable privacy and diverse and respectful lifestyles and opinions.

Hailing from metropolitan areas, a small town, and a rural location, the winning programs are those that most effectively encourage civic engagement and community-building; promote civility, equity and safety online; embody Connected Learning principles of interest-powered, peer supported and academically oriented learning; and have a strong plan to ensure participation and project success.

From July through September, these organizations will be hosting local hands-on events where young people collaborate and compete to build a better web through activities such as hackathons, digital learning labs, maker spaces, badge development workshops, digital journalism and mentoring workshops. All the events are part of the Summer of Making and Connecting, in which dozens of organizations are engaging young people, parents, teachers and others in creating learning opportunities designed for our times.

The Project:Connect Summer Youth Programming Competition and all Digital Media and Learning Competitions are administered by HASTAC through grants from the MacArthur Foundation to the University of California, Irvine.

Since 2004, MacArthur has invested more than $100 million in research, design, and practice to better understand how digital media are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize, and participate in civic life, and what that means for learning and the institutions that support it. More information is at www.macfound.org/education.


About the MacArthur Foundation
The MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places and understand how technology is affecting children and society.


HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory) is an international network of educators and digital visionaries committed to the creative development and critical understanding of new technologies in life, learning, and society. HASTAC is committed to innovative design, participatory learning, and critical thinking.

About the Digital Harbor Foundation

The Digital Harbor Foundation is a non-profit organization located in Baltimore, which fosters innovation, tech advancement, and entrepreneurship by helping youth develop digital age skills through maker activities and tech workforce development.

To learn more about the Digital Harbor Foundation, visit http://www.digitalharbor.org.