Teen Think Tank Project: Giving teens voice today creates better tomorrow

Today’s teens will be inheriting a number of major societal issues, including racism, gender inequality, poverty, climate change and food insecurity — all of which will be exacerbated by an increasingly divisive society. Without intervention, we will continue down the perilous path of hyperpartisanship, misinformation and intolerance, until we hand the next generation a society that cannot be resuscitated.

Changing the hearts and minds of today’s leaders has proven to be futile. So many seem unwilling to fully explore complex societal issues beyond the one-sided commentary of their preferred public figures. Thus, we are not only creating gridlock within our political and social systems, but we are grooming the next generation to further embrace partisanship, divisiveness and intolerance. That future looks very bleak.

The Teen Think Tank Project aims to change this.

What is the Teen Think Tank Project?

I co-founded the Teen Think Tank Project along with a longtime colleague and mediator, Matthew DeSantis, with a sense of urgency to address the disheartening trajectory of society and the passion for creating positive change by empowering others to rise as leaders.

Kelly Nagle. (Teen Think Tank Project)

Our vision is to address the systemic issues that hinder progress in our society by providing teens with the skillset they will need to become agents of change. We believe that, by equipping teens to better navigate today’s society and prepare them to become open-minded and effective leaders, we can create the change we need to achieve a more viable future. We want to give teens a voice in the world they will inherit.

Teen Think Tank Project is a student-run policy institute that fosters critical thinking, research techniques and problem-solving skills to develop policy frameworks for real life. We provide high school students with the academic, emotional and practical skills needed to not only understand today’s societal issues, but correct them. Students accepted into the merit-based programs are guided through a 12-week virtual social justice education curriculum that emphasizes the critical development skills of leadership, communication, research, critical analysis and decision-making.

Through conversations with thought leaders, advocates, activists and industry experts, students explore the social justice issues that are currently plaguing society and generate conceptual solutions for both global and local problems in the form of a group white paper, podcast or digital short. Graduating students have expanded their academic skills, built a professional network of industry leaders, gained new perspectives on some of society’s toughest issues, have published research content to highlight on college applications and become exceptionally prepared to lead social justice initiatives in the future.

Here’s how you can help

As the Teen Think Tank Project has grown, we have been overwhelmed by the generosity of other socially conscious individuals who share our motivation to create a more positive and sustainable future by giving teens a voice. The community that has sprung up around us is an uplifting force. Coupled with the impressive teens who have willingly challenged their own thinking and brought new perspectives to light, we see our vision becoming a reality.

If you’d like to help the next generation create a better future for everyone, we’d welcome your support. The Teen Think Tank Project is currently crowdfunding to provide more opportunities for deserving students to enroll in our programming. Contributions and sponsorships can be made here.

We also welcome the contributions of thought leaders, experts and scholars. More information and an application to be a program contributor can be found here.

Kelly Nagle co-founded the Teen Think Tank Project with Matthew DeSantis.