Founder Tara L. Conley Named 2013 Media Ideation Fellow


I'm so pleased to announced that I've been named as one of the 2013 Media Ideation Fellows! I, along with Kristy Tillman, Charles DeTar, and Yongjun Heo are among the very first class of fellows supported by the Media Ideation Fellowship, a Voqal initiative.

Several months ago, I asked for your nomination for the fellowship and many of you came through with support. For that, I thank you. I'm humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude, especially knowing that my work will be supported financially and by way of professional mentorship. Through the generous support of the Media Ideation Fund, I will be able to begin developing a text line for court-involved youth in New York City.


The Text Line for Court-Involved (CI) Youth [official name TBD] will provide anonymous means for young people who are tethered to foster care, juvenile justice, and criminal justice systems in New York City to access resources and seek support beyond the institutions to which they are bound.

Eventually, users of the text line will be able to:

  • Access available tutoring services and job listings in their neighborhoods.
  • Access family planning and mental health services.
  • Connect immediately to crisis and emergency response hotlines.
  • Set up reminders for court dates and other appointments.
  • Receive automated information about Know Your Rights (ACLU) and tips/suggestions about how to talk to lawyers and caseworkers.

There is a tremendous amount of work ahead and the fellowship marks only the beginning of further development that will need to be completed to ensure that young people involved in foster care and juvenile justice systems receive the support and resources they need and deserve.

So far this month I've been meeting (and hanging out!) with several young people who are serving as youth advisory board members. Their insights, stories, and perspectives will inform the purpose and uses of the line. The youth advisory board members will be making their public debut on MEDIA MAKE CHANGE very soon, so stick around and prepare to be touched and inspired by the work these incredible young people are doing. I can't wait for you to meet them!

I'll continue to keep MMC readers updated on new developments within the next few months. In addition to a beta launch of the text line, we will also be launching an official Facebook group page that will begin connecting agencies, organizations, resources, and CI youth online and via social media.

Finally, I invite those who will be in the NYC area on March 29th, 2013 to come support me as I audition for TEDxTeachersCollege. I'll be giving a brief pitch on a proposed TED talk about participatory design and how mobile technology can enable members of transient and displaced groups to build stronger connections and networked communities across contexts. It'll be like American Idol for nerds! You can register for the conference by going to

TC’s Got Talent final

With that, I leave you with an excerpt about critical connections that has stayed with me since I began this work. The quote comes from Margaret Wheatley.

Rather than worry about critical mass, our work is to foster critical connections.  We don't need to convince large numbers of people to change; instead, we need to connect with kindred spirits.  Through these relationships, we will develop the new knowledge, practices, courage, and commitment that lead to broad-based change (2006).

If you are a mobile strategist, funder, or developer and interested in learning more about the text line, please email me directly at tara [at] mediamakechange [dot] org.