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Get Involved with ThinkMTV: Youth-Oriented Social Activism Goes Online

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Just imagine sitting in Las Vegas and watching the popular starlet of the day bomb during a half-hearted, lip-synched performance at the VMAs (that’s Video Music Awards for those of you who have been living under a rock the past two weeks). Then imagine watching it in person. It could happen to you, and all for doing just a little bit of good.

That’s right. In an innovative move, MTV, in conjunction with the Case Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Goldhirsh Foundation, and MCJ Aemlior Foundation, has launched an online community aimed at getting our young people more involved in issues that are important to them.

ThinkMTV went live on Thursday, September 20 and is a multi-faceted site which has stemmed from the desire of MTV’s core audience – teenagers and 20-somethings – to do more. In a recent youth activism study titled “Just Cause,” ThinkMTV reported that 80% of young people surveyed believe that taking action to help their community is important. A much lower percentage, only 19%, self-describe their level of involvement as being high. One of the driving factors in the lack of contribution, the surveyed youth said, was lack of knowledge on how to get involved.

Enter MTV and its partners. They boast five main objectives to their user friendly and exceedingly informative site – get educated, get connected, get heard, get active, and get rewarded. Let’s look a little closer at these seemingly simple goals.

Get Educated – With news reports, picture galleries, socially conscious video games, and more video and audio files than you can possibly want, ThinkMTV is a veritable hotbed of breaking news, social issues, and information.

Get Connected – Capitalizing on the popularity of social networking sites, ThinkMTV has set up “Think Tanks” where members can meet people of like minds so that they can begin to work together to effect global change.

Get Heard – In a world where we can all constantly be heard through the blogosphere, ThinkMTV encourages its members to raise their voices through videos, photos, and conversations. A real boost, some material will gain national exposure by moving up to the main MTV website, visited by over 90 million subscribers in the US alone.

Get Active – Here’s where things starts to get really interesting. MTV has long manned a campaign to encourage our young people to vote, in an effort to effect change (Rock the Vote). With ThinkMTV, members will gain usable knowledge for registering, petitioning congress, and volunteering. And beginning in the fall, “Action Projects” will launch on the site. Developed by celebrities, young activists, and members alike, Action Projects will take aim at issues large and small (the world AIDS epidemic, fixing up a neighborhood park). The best part? The website promises to make joining in and helping easy.

Get Rewarded – Drawing on its powerful partners and massive membership, MTV plans to take rewarding activism to a new level. Their hope is that members who use ThinkMTV to do good will be rewarded with enviable prizes like tickets to the aforementioned VMAs, exposure on the MTV television network, scholarships, and more. The first of these offerings is the Young Creators Award. A partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, this award will give $500,000 worth of grant monies to young people with innovative ideas on how digital journalism can strengthen community ties. Another promised reward is the opportunity to spend time with socially conscious celebrities including: Bono, Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy, Shakira, Reggie Bush, Rosario Dawson, Nick Cannon, Miss USA Rachel Smith, John Legend, Nick Lachey, Chris Rock, and Steve Nash.

In a world where social injustice takes place every second of every minute of every day, it is imperative that we get our young people involved at an early age. There is a desire to do good, make positive improvements, and…we all hope…change the world. The first step is giving our younger generations the tools. ThinkMTV is certainly trying.

For more information visit ThinkMTV.

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About Kate C. Harding