Impact Hub. Social Up! Actions for Change

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The Internet is overflowing with hate speech. Thus, we need to find ways how to keep counteracting it. How to inspire young Poles to take action against hate speech on-line? We need to make Internet a safer place especially for people with minority background and a place where the ideas of civic engagement will be promoted, liked and shared. The action needs to be taken now because the statistics shows it clearly. Center on Prejudice Studies of Warsaw University conducted a research on hate speech in Poland in 2014 and 2016 and compared some results. The conclusions are concerning, since first of all significant more young Poles encountered hate speech on Jews on the Internet: there is an increase by 15,5 percent points (from 58,7% to 74,2%). Jews are not the key targeted group in Poland though. In case of Muslims, young Poles encountered in the Internet by 24,5 percent points more hate speech, and this is the increase from 55,3 to 79,8 % within 2 years. At the same time, there is no effective program in Poland of counteracting hate speech online, and the government does not perceive these tendencies as a challenge at all.

This is why HIA Poland has initiated a new two-year pilot initiative entitled “Impact Hub. Social Up! Actions for Change” with which we will address the key challenges of human rights education and empowerment to action. The idea is simple: combining the online and the offline in activism against hate speech while at the same time reinforcing the toolbox of activists with social entrepreneurship skills which will make their campaigns sustainable and independent from public funding. 

The program aims to: 

  • raise awareness on hate speech of Polish teenagers by developing innovative interactive books promoting values of diversity and linking history & human rights education; 
  • engage Polish teenagers in a dialogue on hate speech by inviting YouTube influencers (role-models) to create videos and vlogs on the subject and by developing chat bots which will explain the subject to the school goers in an engaging way;
  • empowering Polish activists to be brave and bold in planning social campaigns by devising programs on human rights activism and social entrepreneurship so that the activists will be independent from the public funds.

A Three-Part Project to Meet the Challenges 

The new initiative is, in a nutshell, a platform for young people to develop sustainable civic actions, to connect social entrepreneurship to democratic values as well as to raise awareness and strengthen the trend of reacting to hate speech/hate crimes instances. Drawing upon the diagnosis of the current situation in Poland, as well as HIA Poland’s expertise, the project will be focused on the following components: 

Knowledge Hub focused on exploring, testing and generating innovative educational tools for raising awareness among teenagers to be implemented on the large scale. More specifically, we will develop 2 publications (each in at least 1,500 paper copies, also available as e-book) in a format of an interactive book  (such as “Wreck your Journal”) which challenges stereotypes and prejudice on refugees (the first year) and towards people with disabilities (the second year).

Trendsetting Hub devoted to raising anti-hate speech/discrimination awareness through dialogue and contributing to setting a trend to react to these human rights violations thanks to convincing intermediaries (role models/trendsetters and chat-bot apps). In particular, within this project pillar we aim to produce at least 3 films achieving the range of ca. 500 000+ viewers in the first edition and at least the similar result in the second edition. Moreover, we will develop an interactive application and a game in form of a Facebook chat bot engaging at least 100 000 young people into debates on anti-hate speech.

Social Actions Hub operating as an educational structure enabling to acquire knowledge, skills, competences and contacts to develop socially responsible entrepreneurial business ideas. More specifically, within this project component we will organize two editions of Entrepreneurship Academies in which 30 participants (12 in the first and 18 in the second edition) will receive a complex training and support. Secondly, the participants will develop 30 ideas for social enterprises or business-oriented products/services responding to social needs. And finally, we would like to support at least 3-10 best ideas in each edition with seed money so that the participants can kick-start their actions.

All the three hub pillars are interconnected and complement each other: Knowledge Hub enables to ‘translate’ results of academic research into innovative educational tools. These tools are necessary to build knowledge base needed to be able to react to hate speech/crimes as well as to  initiate social ventures promoting values of diversity. In order to try to set a new trend or/and strengthen the existing one aimed at reacting to these human rights violations and also  further promote the already-existing good practices, actions on large scale are needed. These days technology enables organizations such as ours reaching more people in a shorter time. Thus, each pillar is irreplaceable and all of them contribute to this conceptual and organizational design, making it possible to achieve planned goals.

The pilot project is financially supported by the Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” (EVZ).