And the Winners of the Social Change Tech Challenge Are...

During the month of February, youth teams from across Minnesota creatively engaged their peers and communities to respond to the issue of teen dating violence. The teams used the hashtag #RealLoveIs to create advocates and promote healthy relationships across social media channels Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Tumblr.

A committee selected the top three programs in the “Real Love Is…” campaign once the youth groups submitted their plans. The winning teams were awarded the grants to advance their teen dating violence campaigns in their communities.

“We know teen dating violence affects up to 24 percent of Minnesota’s high school seniors,” says Becky Smith, MCBW program manager, St. Paul, Minn. “We are proud to partner with Verizon to provide resources and training for youth to make an impact in their communities through social media. As the ‘Real Love Is...’ campaign continues to grow with Verizon’s generous support, we look forward to hearing more youth talk about healthy relationships.”

The Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women (MCBW) and HopeLine® from Verizon, a program that collects no-longer-used wireless phones and accessories and turns them into support for domestic violence organizations nationwide, recently announced the winners of the “Real Love Is…” Social Change Tech Challenge as part of Teen Action Day at Minnesota State Capitol.

A HopeLine grant was given to MCBW to fund the youth summit, which included smartphone donations to participating youth leaders and awards to the top three teen dating violence awareness programs. The first prize grant winner was the Duluth Teen Council from Duluth, Minn.

“We are honored to have been selected as the grand prize winner of the ‘Real Love Is…’ Social Change Tech Challenge. We are excited to be able to use the donation and Ellipsis 7 tablet to further our program around teen dating violence awareness and prevention in our community,” said Rachelle Jensen, Duluth Teen Council member, Duluth, Minn.

The first runner-up grant went to Casa de Esperanza’s Youth Peer Education Initiative from St. Paul, Minn., and the second runner-up grant went to Hope Coalition’s Kids Count, a youth advocacy program from Red Wing, Minn.

The Social Change Tech Challenge kicked-off in February – Teen Dating Violence Month – with a day-long youth summit at Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. MCBW and Verizon experts showed more than 70 youth leaders how to use technology and social media for social action. Teens also participated in a mall-wide scavenger hunt and were asked to create and share a powerful image using the Verizon Destination Store’s interactive brand focal wall via social media.