Rising Voices is thrilled to announce the newest additions to our community of grantees. Following the most recent microgrant competition where we received 598 proposals from 93 countries, our selection committee chose eleven diverse projects that will receive microgrant funding and mentoring to implement citizen media outreach projects in their local communities.
We were once again thoroughly impressed by the quality of the ideas submitted by committed individuals and organizations that want to share the benefits and possibilities of digital storytelling with underrepresented communities. Building upon last year's experience with providing the option for applicants to upload and share their proposals on our online platform , we once again saw the expansive reach and the ongoing need for this type of support to small-scale projects.
In recognition of this continuing interest in this type of support, we decide to offer ten microgrants in 2014, which is double the number of grants awarded in previous competitions. With this, we will be supporting more communities in their work. As the committee evaluated the proposals, it was evident that it was still difficult to select just ten projects, and ultimately we settled on offering eleven microgrants this year.
Congratulations to the newest grantee projects. The eleven winners (in alphabetical order):
Bosnia Herzegovina: Media Literacy & Resisting Manipulation
Election season is right around the corner for voters in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which means that over the next four months citizens will be bombarded with news and analysis about the candidates and the important issues at hand. However, this can often cause difficulties for those wading through the volume and varying quality of information. The project led by the Post-Conflict Research Center  will train Bosnian youth to take a critical look at the role of the media in society, where they will put skills such as fact-checking and attribution into practice by contributing on a collaborative blog, where they will also examine how their country is portrayed by the international media.
Cambodia: Empowering Cloghers Project
Female bloggers in Cambodia are often affectionately referred to as “Cloghers,” however, blogging still remains an activity primarily for urban residents and those with better access to these technology resources. The Cambodian Center of Human Rights  sees the opportunity to support new Cloghers from rural communities that are now studying in Phnom Penh, who have a unique perspective as bridges between their home rural communities and the bustling capital city. Through blogging workshops, the new Cloghers will share personal stories and insights regarding the human rights situation across the country, while building important networks with other female students that share a similar background.
Kyrgyzstan: Our Stories Ourselves for Girl Empowerment
Text books and local media in Kyrgyzstan often omit important accomplishments made by women, and information about the rights of women can be difficult to find. Following a workshop hosted by the Bishkek Feminist Collective SQ , a group of teenage girl activists discovered the opportunities provided by citizen media and social networking to help re-write how girls are portrayed in the country through the sharing of information about gender equality and rights. The project will support five girls clubs in the capital and villages of Chui Oblast so that the participants can begin to represent themselves instead of allowing others to say what girls can or cannot do in the country. Through training in digital storytelling and the use of social in media in a more secure and empowering way, the project will provide smartphones that will be rotated among the various members of the clubs. Despite the geographic distances, the five girls clubs will be linked to one another virtually, and they will publish and share content  that will inspire and educate other teenage girls eager to learn more about their own possibilities.
Guatemala: Tz'utujil Tziij Pa Nimk'atz
When we last saw Israel Quic, he was being featured by Facebook's Ten Stories  in recognition for his work promoting the Tz'utujil language on the Internet in communities surrounding Lake Atitlán in Guatemala. As a tireless activist for his native language online, he has seen firsthand how the current generation has been rapidly losing connections with its language. He seeks to reverse that trend by partnering with the Community Library Rija'tzuul Na'ooj in San Juan La Laguna and the Guatemalan Academy of Mayan Languages, where the project will build an offline/online community of young people that want to learn how to use citizen media and social networks to revitalize the Tz'utujil language.
Mexico: The South of South is Liberated Music
The Santiaguero Collective  started in the city of Mérida, where they were drawn together out of their common love of music, but not just any music. What characterizes this collective is their focus on Creative Commons-licensed music that reflects the current social issues of the region and of the country. In time, many more musical groups joined the collective, especially local groups recording music in their native Mayan language. It was soon apparent that there was a need to provide a space to facilitate conversations about the need to build and support young leaders eager to see their language reflected online and their relationship with young people that may have roots in these indigenous communities. The project “South of South” will bring together local musicians to explore these commonalities through online dialogue, including a space to share their musical works.
Pakistan: Jalaibi – Pakistan's Sweeter Side
Pakistan is a country that can often be unfairly portrayed in the international mainstream media. With one of the existing narratives focusing on security issues and extremism, there is a thirst for alternative news. A new project called Jalaibi seeks to explore and showcase other aspects of Pakistani society such as the arts, culture, literature, food, and other lifestyle stories. Through workshops to be held in Karachi and Islamabad, the Jalaibi team will engage participants from underrepresented sectors of society training them how to contribute news, photos, and videos to the news blog site to show the “sweeter side” of Pakistan.
Peru: The Song of my Ancestors Online
So much of a community's history and culture can be found in the lyrics and melody of its music. In the city of Huancayo, Peru, much of this music has never been recorded, and instead has been passed along from generation to generation. The organization Crónika Perú will work directly with indigenous folk musicians and orchestras from around the valley so that they can begin to document and share this music, as a way to begin to tell the story about its important meaning for current and future generations. They will create a blog where participants can share their experiences and connect with other local musicians that play the same traditional songs.
Philippines: Voices of Hope – From Victims to Activism
In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan  tragically struck many communities across Southeast Asia with such force that residents are still piecing back much of their lives. Towns in the Philippines, such as the town of Estancia, were especially hit hard, and nearly six months after the natural disaster, residents are still waiting on a lot of unfulfilled promises from the authorities. This project will mobilize local residents equipping them as citizen journalists to report on the lack of progress in the reconstruction, and also share first-hand perspectives on the community's resilience.
Uganda: Common Community – Radio Soap
Community radio plays a vital role in communicating essential information in Lira, Uganda. The Theatre Technology House  has been creating radio soaps to educate local listeners with public service announcements. This new project will add a digital element to their existing work collaborating with Radio Wa. This new soap created by a team of community actors will discuss the upcoming election process and how to choose one's ideal candidate. The radio drama will be shared as an audio podcast and shared over social networks where listeners abroad can join the discussion and debate.
USA: Against the Current: – Language Capture Project
Of the 5,000 tribal members of the Umoⁿhoⁿ  living in the rural reservation community in Eastern Nebraska, there are less than ten fluent speakers remaining. However, there is growing interest from young people interested in recapturing the language and culture shared by their elders. This project will maximize the use of citizen media and social networks to engage and encourage young people through training in the creation of short video clips that will teach how to speak common, everyday phrases so that they can continue their discovery of this endangered indigenous language.
Note: We mentioned that we selected eleven projects in the 2014 competition. We are still finalizing some details with the final project, and once we have confirmation, we will update this post.
Please join us in welcoming our newest grantees!