The YLAC Counter Speech Fellowship with Instagram engages creative teens to use the power of visual storytelling to start meaningful conversations on issues important to young citizens around the world. Anchored at the crossroads of arts and advocacy, the fellowship was first launched in 2017 and has since expanded to several cities in India and Nepal.
As an incubator for the future generation of leaders and activists, the fellowship is built around three pillars – awareness, support and advocacy. Fellows are mentored to build powerful content and the most inspiring work is promoted on Instagram. The fellowship is designed as a fully funded engagement wherein fellows meet every alternate week for a couple of hours. The overall duration of the fellowship is two months and the schedule is easy to accommodate alongside regular school work and examinations.
Applications to Phase I of the 2021 fellowship – July to September – are currently open. This phase is designed as a virtual engagement to accommodate constraints imposed by COVID. All sessions will be conducted online and the program is open to applicants across India. Please follow the links below to see details and apply.
See: Themes | Structure | Schedule | Eligibility & Deadlines | Fellowship Pillars | FAQs & Time Commitment | Applications
The 2021 fellowship focuses on four themes: Gender Equality, Diversity, Bullying and Mental Wellbeing. The idea is to use the internet and social media as a force for good by creating unique communities around issues that matter to teenagers, and provide a platform for voicing concerns and advocating for changes. By giving teens a voice and building their capacity to mobilize people, we hope to create a world that is more inclusive and tolerant.
Over the course of the fellowship, the Counter Speech Fellows run feeds on Instagram on their selected themes. These feeds put out creative and thought provoking content with the aim of creating awareness, leading action and extending support. You can see examples of content created by the fellows here: @counterspeechfellowship
(IST: Indian Standard Time)
Eligibility & Deadlines
The Counter Speech Fellowship is open to all 13 to 18 year-old students currently enrolled in a school in India. Home-schooled students are also eligible. Candidates must be in grades 8th-12th during the duration of the fellowship. If a candidate has already completed school/ is in college, they are not eligible to apply.
The application deadlines are:
First deadline: 30th April, 2021 (Friday)
Second and final deadline: 31st May, 2021 (Monday)
Pillars of the Fellowship
During the two-month long fellowship, fellows will run campaigns to generate momentum for change while focusing on the three core pillars of the fellowship: Awareness, Support and Advocacy.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Counter Speech Fellowship is an exceptional opportunity for teen leaders to engage with themes such as Gender Equality, Diversity, Bullying and Mental Wellbeing. This one-of-its-kind fellowship seeks to use the internet and social media as a force for good to create unique communities around issues that matter, and for voicing thoughts, opinions and concerns.
The internet is a powerful tool for teenagers to follow their interests, connect, express, build communities, and create support for causes. YLAC and Instagram are committed to working with teens to help them leverage this powerful tool to address issues that affect them directly. By giving teens a voice and building their capacity to mobilize people for change, we hope to create a world that embraces differences and provides support to those who need it the most.
If you are studying in a school in India in grades 8th-12th, or are being home-schooled, and are between 13 to 18 years of age, you are eligible to apply. Students who are 18 years of age but have already completed school are not eligible.
We look for passionate, spirited, creative teen leaders who wish to see the world as a more inclusive and kind place. There are no prerequisites in terms of fields of study. The final evaluation of applicants is based on their responses to the questions in a short application form.
We usually select 40-50 Counter Speech Fellows for each cohort. In Phase I of the 2021 fellowship, four cohorts will be run in parallel.
The Counter Speech Fellowship is a two month commitment. After the fellowship launch, fellows will meet every alternate week for a couple of hours. Applicants are advised to refer to the detailed calendar here.
On average, a student is expected to commit about 10 hours per week. This includes the online workshop sessions and mentorship check-ins, as well as time spent in content creation and advocacy for the allocated themes.
No, there is no need for you to take leave from school. All workshop/ mentorship sessions are scheduled either on weekends or late in the evening on weekdays.
You don’t need to have an Instagram account while applying to the fellowship. But, you will need to post content on Instagram theme handles during the fellowship, and will therefore need to get familiar with the platform to be able to contribute effectively.
No! This is a fully funded fellowship. Just give the fellowship your creative best. You need not worry about anything else!
YLAC and Instagram conduct a training and orientation session for the fellows on the first day of the fellowship. This session has been designed to give the fellows an overview of what the Counter Speech Fellowship has in store for them. The session is also meant to help them understand how they can contribute and what their roles and responsibilities are during and after the fellowship.
The sessions are facilitated by the YLAC and the Instagram teams. During the course of the fellowship, a number of external speakers, social media influencers, policy makers, content makers and other guests are also invited to conduct specific sessions with the fellows. They engage and interact with the fellows on the identified issues and themes.
Yes, fellows are given a certificate of completion at the end of the fellowship and those who demonstrate leadership and produce the best content are duly recognized.
Yes, attendance at the sessions is mandatory. Since fellows are tasked with working in groups, the absence of any fellow is a disadvantage to his or her team. Please check the schedule carefully to ensure your availability. Feel free to write to us at office(at)theylacproject.com in case you have any queries.