Counter Speech Fellowship


 
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 2021 have already closed. Please see the tentative calendar for information on other editions planned later this year. You can also sign up below or follow us on social media (Facebook, Instagram) for updates.
 
See:   Themes   |   Structure   |   Schedule – Phase I of 2021   |   Fellowship Pillars   |   Eligibility, FAQs & Time Commitment


 

Fellowship Themes

 

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
 


 

Fellowship Structure

Phase I, July – Sept 2021

 
The fellowship’s online version includes workshop sessions in large groups on alternate weekends and team mentorship sessions in smaller groups on alternate Thursday/ Friday evenings. Fellows attend one workshop session and one team mentorship session every fortnight.
 
Outside the sessions, fellows are expected to create content on the themes allocated to them. This work is done in teams through remote collaboration during the intervening weeks.

 


 

Schedule

(IST: Indian Standard Time)

Curtain Raiser

Sunday 25th July



Time: 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM IST
Note: Fellows will be required to join sessions for about 4 hrs within this time slot

Sessions
Fellowship curtain raiser: Training and Orientation

Exploring the concept of Counter Speech

Mentorship Check-In

Thursday or Friday evening 29th or 30th July

Duration: 1.5 hrs

Leadership & Advocacy

Sunday 8th August



Time: 10 AM – 12 PM IST (2 hrs)

Sessions
Advocacy and leadership in today’s world

Digital marketing to power your campaigns

Mentorship Check-In

Thursday or Friday evening 12th or 13th August

Duration: 1.5 hrs

Visual Storytelling

Saturday 21st August



Time: 10 AM – 12 PM IST (2 hrs)

Sessions
Learning the art of visual storytelling

Note: This session will be held on Saturday because of Rakhi (on 22nd August)

Mentorship Check-In

Thursday or Friday evening 26th or 27th August

Duration: 1.5 hrs

Exploring perspectives

Sunday 5th September



Time: 10 AM – 12 PM IST (2 hrs)

Sessions
Going live on Instagram, inviting people in for a conversation and exploring perspectives

Mentorship Check-In

Thursday or Friday evening 9th or 10th September

Duration: 1.5 hrs

Fellowship Closing

Sunday 19th September



Time: 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM IST
Note: Fellows will be required to join sessions for about 4 hrs within this time slot

Sessions
Reflections and fellowship culmination

See:   Themes   |   Structure   |   Schedule – Phase I 2021   |   Fellowship Pillars   |   Eligibility, FAQs & Time Commitment
 


 

Pillars of the Fellowship

 
During the two-month long fellowship, fellows run campaigns to generate momentum for change while focusing on the three core pillars of the fellowship: Awareness, Support and Advocacy.
 

Awareness

 
Building awareness is the first step in any campaign. It starts with educating oneself, conversing with others and removing taboos. To this end, fellows leverage the Instagram platform to create content around their themes. The most promising content is promoted on Instagram to reach thousands of other teenagers across the country, and the world.
 


Support

 
The fellowship themes are issues that have, in some form or the other, affected most teenagers. Any call for mobilization must therefore begin with empathy and an extension of support to those who have been adversely affected. As part of their work, the Counter Speech Fellows lend support to peers and other teenagers who reach out to them in times of distress.
 


Advocacy

 
The fellowship is a powerful platform for teenagers to reach out to key decision makers such as policymakers, educators and parents to get their opinions heard and advocate for better support systems for teenagers. During the previous editions, fellows put together recommendations for school authorities on how to deal with issues like bullying and mental wellbeing. They also took over Instagram handles of influencers to talk about these issues.
 

 
See:   Themes   |   Structure   |   Schedule – Phase I 2021   |   Fellowship Pillars   |   Eligibility, FAQs & Time Commitment
 


 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is this fellowship?

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.

2. Why has it been instituted?

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.

3. Am I eligible to apply?

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.

4. What are the selection criteria?

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.

5. How many fellows are selected?

We usually select 40-50 Counter Speech Fellows for each cohort. In Phase I of the 2021 fellowship, four cohorts are being run in parallel.

6. How long is the fellowship?

The Counter Speech Fellowship is a two month commitment. After the fellowship launch, fellows meet every alternate week for a couple of hours. Applicants are advised to refer to the detailed calendar here.

7. How much time will I commit?

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.

8. Do I take leave from school?

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.

9. Do I need an Instagram account?

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.

10. Do I have to pay a fee?

No! This is a fully funded fellowship. Just give the fellowship your creative best. You need not worry about anything else!

11. Is there an orientation?

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.

12. Who facilitates the sessions?

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.

13. Do I get a certificate?

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.

14. Is attendance compulsory?

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.

 
See:   Themes   |   Structure   |   Schedule – Phase I 2021   |   Fellowship Pillars   |   Eligibility, FAQs & Time Commitment