A Movement to Help Youth Succeed in the 21st Century #WeAreLRNG

Lainie Decoursy

Today, Mozilla was pleased to partner with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur  Foundation, John Legend and other leading companies for the launch of LRNG, a collective shift in our approach to learning.


A sharp divide exists between young people who have access to 21st century opportunities and those who do not. There’s a growing and urgent need to make learning more accessible, engaging and relevant. To create 21st century pathways to success, we have to connect with underserved youth in new and innovative ways.

Of course this isn’t a challenge any one organization can tackle on their own. To close the opportunity gap, it will take schools, cities, employers, civic and cultural community resources and all of us– to provide young people with experiences that connect their interests with real-world opportunities.

For Mozilla, participating in LRNG is an opportunity to connect with, share and learn from  innovative educators who are inspired by and practice open learning to have greater impact and truly improve the systems and frameworks within which learners can leverage the Web and technology in their daily lives.

We are happy to feature several learning experiences on LRNG that combine activities and badges to engage learners with new skills and concepts that will help them become better citizens of the Web. Three of these experiences focus on online privacy, and help learners understand – through hands-on applications and thoughtful reflection–why privacy matters and what steps they can take to protect their own privacy in their digital lives.

  • IP Tracer - Learners explore internet protocol (IP) addresses and create a map to illustrate their associations with individuals, devices, or websites.
  • Privacy CoachLearners “teach it forward” and become privacy mentors to their peers by sharing their expertise through discussion or creating their own “recipe” documentation on  privacy.
  • Data Trail TimelineLearners create a timeline, video or slideshow remix to demonstrate how information gets collected by companies and other organizations throughout the course of a typical day.

Note these 3 activities were remixed from Hive Toronto, and the original project  was funded by the Office of the  Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC).

LRNG is powered by Collective Shift, a new nonprofit organization dedicated to redesigning social systems for the connected age. Their focus is on creating pathways to training, internships and jobs for disconnected young people. And they’re bringing together partners, including Mozilla, to acknowledge that learning happens anywhere and everywhere, and to pave new ways to higher education and employment opportunities

Every young person deserves access to learning that engages, inspires and equips them to reach their full potential, and we all must take responsibility for opening these new paths to success.

To learn more abot the LRNG movement, visit www.LRNG.org.

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How I Got Onboard With RideW/Me

Marina Malone

Hi! I’m Marina Malone, and I’m a high school student from Chicago Public Schools. This post is about my experience with RideW/Me, which is an app that makes it easy for high school students to find educational opportunities in Chicago and get there safely. It’s produced by members of Mozilla’s Hive Chicago Learning Network, Mozilla staff, volunteer developers, and other interested community members just like me!


That’s me on the left with Esteban Martinez and Amaris Alanis-Ribiero.

It all started when my College First program manager at the Chicago Botanic Garden, Amaris, sent an email looking for students to help out with some app about transportation for teens. She was vague about exactly how we could help with something like app development and only said that we would be “working with tech experts,” which sounded intimidating. When I walked into TechNexus and into what turned out to be a civic hacking competition, I was right (but only at first). I was confronted by a bunch of old people – college students and guys with beards – writing on whiteboards and typing on keyboards. I had never been in such a board-centric room before and it made me wonder even more how I, a board-less high school student, could fit in an environment like this.


Fortunately, my friend Esteban also volunteered to help with the app and even though I still had no idea what the app specifically did, Esteban had arrived before me and caught me up. He told me that our job was to make the diagrams on one of the whiteboards pleasing to the eye using Google Slides; they were calling them storyboards, a rough draft of what the app would look like. The sloppiness of the storyboards on the whiteboard actually made them seem a lot friendlier. They were filled with phrases like “CoOL Urban Scene,” “Im In If Ur In” and other obvious attempts to appeal to teens. It made the team we were working with more relatable, rather than distant computer geniuses. But words like “My Events,” “Find Events,” and “Join Event” caught my eye. I thought this app was about transportation, so what was going on with these events?

DSC_1309That’s where Robert Friedman, a Mozilla educator stepped in with another whiteboard. He explained that the app, called RideW/Me, would make it easier for teens to find educational events and get there safely with people they know. His explanation cleared up what the app was about, and I realized that it actually applied to me, my friends, and my school.

Chicago is a huge city, with a lot of educational opportunities that are often completely missed out on because nobody knows about them or it’s difficult to get to them. Understanding the goals of the work and how it was relevant to my personal experience gave me a reason to contribute as much as I could to this project… even if all I could do was make the diagrams on the whiteboard pleasing to the eye on Google Slides.

ridewme slideshow1 slideshow2 slideshow3

Turns out, making diagrams on whiteboards pleasing to the eye isn’t as simple as I thought it would be. Esteban and I were delving into the realm of graphic design for RideW/Me but it felt like we sort of hit a wall when we finished the basic storyboard in Google Slides. We could only do so much with simple rectangles and Google’s choices for the color green. That’s when Robert introduced us to Ricardo Vasquez, a User Experience and Interaction Designer at Mozilla to help us understand how designers think and work. Ricardo is a graphic designer and he happened to host a YouTube livestreaming series called “Hour of Design” where he walks viewers through his process of designing something for the web.

Ricardo wanted to dedicate an episode or two of his show to RideW/Me. To help him in his work, he asked Esteban and me to create a mood board. A mood board is an arrangement of pictures that’s used to demonstrate a certain style, and, in this case, we made them to represent the look and feel of the app. We made two: one a bit formal and mute, but the other gritty and loud. Now I was finally getting a hold of a board of my own!

mooooooodboard bandaidsandskate_board (1)

On the livestreams, Amaris, Robert, Esteban, a bunch of my friends, and I watched Ricardo do his magic on YouTube and communicated with each other, remotely, through Slack, which is a collaboration tool that basically combines Twitter and Facebook. He created a style guide that provided choices for color palettes and font sets, and he taught us how certain colors and fonts were perceived by people. Instead of making one absolute choice of fonts and colors he made two or more for people to vote on. There was an incredibly heated battle on Slack about going blue and red or blue and yellow for the app. Personally, I was Team Ketchup, Team Mustard is lame! We actually polled a bunch of people about the color palette, and we found out that kids tend to like blue and red, while adults like blue and yellow. At the end of the day, we learned how important color choice and fonts are when it comes to connecting to our intended audience for the app.

At the end of August, I attended a Chicago Hack Night at Merchandise Mart, which was another environment filled with more whiteboards and keyboards. There were all sorts of people there like web designers, GIS experts, college students, community leaders, and even lawyers, and the main thing they had in common was that they were ready to collaborate with each other. I learned about Code Academy there, and through Code Academy, right now, I’m learning to use the command line.


You really can’t work alone with a project like RideW/Me. A project made for a community is most successful when it’s made by the community. Input from a variety of people is key, and the Internet has made it so much easier for us to get connected, from little things like asking my friends which color looks great on green through Facebook, to awesome stuff like getting an actual graphic designer from Canada collaboratively making a style guide with us through YouTube and Slack. The web is a hub for collaboration, and it can be used to find people who genuinely want other people to succeed. The web really ‘does make things that feel so distant and unachievable, like high school students helping tech experts, feasible after all.

A few months ago, I was a student who was overwhelmed by how board-centric the RideW/Me project was, and now, I feel like I’ve got a lot under my belt when it comes to boards. I’ve worked with storyboards, created mood boards, and now I’m typing on the keyboard to learn how to code. All of this is because I’ve met great people in person, and through the Internet. I never thought I’d be able contribute much to the RideW/Me app, but I underestimated how much our community cares about youth.


Whether it be tomorrow or in five years, you can find me writing on whiteboards building on RideW/Me or another community project. As a part of this great community, I want to be the best I can be to help others be the best that they can be. I’m currently involved in conservation biology at the Chicago Botanic Garden, and from my experience I have been inspired to improve the natural environment of my peers. I plan to apply what I learned from the Garden and with the RideW/Me project to improving the biodiversity of prairies in the United States.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Webmaker and Web Literacy in Bangladesh


When Mozilla built Webmaker for Android, we had countries like Bangladesh in mind — mobile-first regions where individuals are eager to create original content, but might lack the right tools. And so the Mozilla Bangladesh community was indispensable in designing Webmaker. Volunteers provided insight, feedback, ideas and more all throughout the development process.

Bangladesh continues to play an equally important role beyond development. Creating Webmaker was only half the equation; sharing it with users across Bangladesh was the second half. And Mozillians in Dhaka, Sylhet and other cities have done an amazing job sharing Webmaker with their communities.

Webmaker volunteers in Bangladesh

Webmaker volunteers in Bangladesh

Take, for example, Mozillian Mijanur Rahman Rayhan. Mijanur wears many hats at Mozilla — he’s a Firefox Student Ambassador (FSA), Local Mozilla community leader of Sylhet, Webmaker mentor and Club founder. And over the past few months, Mijanur has helped Webmaker thrive in Bangladesh. On a recent Friday in September, Mijanur and other Mozillians attended a major event in Sylhet for Bangladesh Internet Week. The group set up a Webmaker kiosk, eager to introduce the app to the world.

“We demonstrated the log in process, features to make projects and the techniques of how to share projects on social websites,” Mijanur explains in a blog post.

It was a busy day. “From the very beginning, our kiosk was almost full every minute,” Mijanur says. “We had five volunteers for demonstration, and I don’t remember if I saw them sitting or being idle for a single minute.” Mijanur and the others ended up introducing Webmaker and its mission to about 300 people — 100 of which downloaded the app on the spot.

Mijanur isn’t alone. Atique Ahmed Ziad is a longtime Mozillian based in Dhaka who has also made tremendous contributions to the Webmaker launch. Earlier this month, Atique hosted a Webmaker event at Notre Dame College in Dhaka. Here, dozens of people came together to learn about Webmaker. Users built a range of projects in both English and Bengali: fan pages for favorite athletes and cricket teams, recycling tips, photography portfolios, study guides, science explainers and more. (To view additional Webmaker projects created at Atique’s event, click here.)

“It was a great experience for me to teach people to create the Web by us and for us,” Atique says. “I must say I enjoyed the event and people’s interest in Webmaker.”

Webmaker users in Bangladesh

Webmaker users in Bangladesh

Mijanur and Atique are two of the many talented Mozillians in Bangladesh who are sharing Webmaker and teaching web literacy. Alone, these volunteers make a positive impact in their communities. Together, they’re making a difference country-wide. Last month, from Sept. 5-11, was Bangladesh Internet Week, a nation-wide initiative that sought to bring 10 million citizens onto the Web. During these seven days, Mozillians across Bangladesh brought Webmaker to the forefront of the conversation. Important topics like web literacy, open source and hands-on learning became centerpieces.

Webmaker volunteers in Sylhet

Webmaker volunteers in Sylhet

There are more Webmaker events planned in Bangladesh, and we’re looking forward to them. Mozilla thanks all our community members in Bangladesh for their outstanding work!

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What I’ve learned since leaving the classroom

Chad Sansing

What are the resources and values I wish I could ship backwards in time to myself?

An infographic explaining tiem-travel.

Image credit Tom B

When I left the classroom (in the parlance of our times) after 14 years of teaching middle school humanities and technology classes, I left content. I knew I had changed for the better as a teacher and person over the arc of my career. Despite all the instincts, habits, and mistakes of privilege I never shook, I got better. More kids successfully engaged with more of the work we shared at the end of my tenure than at the beginning. I left at the top of the game I’d been playing against myself since the start of my career.

Nevertheless, there are days I wish I could go back in time and teach myself some of what I’ve learned in my first few weeks as a curriculum developer at the Mozilla Foundation.


Iterating is habit forming and we should provide teachers and students with the project-management methods they need to experience learning as an on-going, connected experience, rather than as a choppy, episodic one.

Project Management

We should help learners position their work safely in places where constructive feedback and social media tropes such as “like,” “love,” and stickers combine intentionally and structurally to encourage iteration.


Norms and expectations set up around, “Tell me what you learned,” are so much more relevant, motivational, and powerful than norms and expectations set up around, “I’m going to tell you what to do.”


Learners, instead of teachers, should report their learning; teachers should facilitate self-assessment and extend kids the trust to make mistakes on the way to evaluating their learning honestly.

Working in the Open

It’s no good to have a stance on teaching and learning if no one can see it in your work. We learn best in community. Copy and search are vital life and workplace skills that lead to improvisation, invention, and contact with innovative communities of practice. We shouldn’t insist otherwise at the behest of app, device, test, or textbook vendors.

In my new role, I want to work with these values at the front of my mind. I want to serve our community of leaders and educators by putting these values into practice throughout our shared work, and I want to craft curriculum that helps learners experience and enact the same values. As these new understandings have been of use to me, I want to be of use to others championing Universal Web Literacy and the Open Web.

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#Thimblechat Recap

Kristina Gorr

If you missed out on last night’s Remix the School Year with Thimble Twitter chat, don’t worry! You can still join in the conversation on our forum and/or read the entire discussion here.

We had 26 individuals from 7 countries (U.S., Canada, Central African Republic, India, Venezuela, Indonesia, Nepal) on 4 continents join us in real time for the conversation.

We shared stories about the different contexts in which we #teachtheweb, what people look for in a great project to remix, how to help struggling learners grasp basic web literacy concepts, the types of supports people  need to help them learn about some of Thimble’s new features, and more.

Here are just a few quick highlights:

Thanks so much to everyone who participated! We look forward to continuing this conversation in our forum, and will be scheduling more Twitter chats soon–please feel free to comment here with suggested topics.

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Global Web Literacy Studies: Chicago Report

Laura de Reynal

Teenagers in Chicago

As part of our ongoing research efforts to understand our users, we spent three weeks in Chicago in April 2015 to conduct ethnographic research in collaboration with the Hive Chicago team. Learning from this study can be found in this Research Report from Chicago : mzl.la/chicago.

During our previous six months of research, we focused mainly on emerging countries and conducted studies in India, Bangladesh, Kenya and Brazil. With this project in Chicago, we intended to analyze the similarities and differences between our audience in emerging markets and our audience in North America.

As a result, we curated in-depth conversations with 69 participants from various communities, and talked with 41 teenagers, 12 informal educators and program managers, 13 parents and three bloggers.

In this report you will find:

– A description of how people understand and engage with the Web in Chicago through the Web Journey framework. We cover behaviors, skills, blockers, mechanisms of entry and motivations.

– A comparison between our observations in emerging markets and our observations in Chicago.

– Key findings, such as:
Being Internet famous is better than just being famous
Remixes are for glory
Learning code is not appealing
There exists a gap in current learning product offerings
Libraries are a safe zone for parents

– A deep dive on teenagers with a Webmaker user segmentation and three selected portraits
– A deep dive on informal educators with a similar structure
– A benchmark on learning products
– A set of recommendations for our strategy, our learning products and our learning programs
– A list of 110 things that people want to learn details about our research methods

We would love to hear your feedback and questions. Feel free to reach out to laurad@mozillafoundation.org.

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Join us for a #Thimblechat: Remix the School Year w/ Thimble

Kristina Gorr

To celebrate the recent re-launch of Thimble, we’re hosting a tweetchat and you’re invited!

Here are the details:

  • When: Wednesday, September 23, 8pm ET / 6pm UTC

  • Where: Twitter, follow #thimblechat, @Mozteach

  • What: Remix the School Year w/ Thimble Tweetchat

We’re looking forward to a discussion about bringing web literacy into the classroom–what it might look like today, and how we might support teachers and learners moving forward as they explore new skills like HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Here’s a sneak peek of some of the specific questions we’ll ask. Take some time to think about your responses so you’re ready chat!

  • What kinds of offline or analog activities do you use to #teachtheweb?
  • How do you help struggling learners grasp basic web literacy concepts?
  • Thimble lets you create projects with multiple pages, like a website. How could you imagine using that feature in your teaching and learning?
  • What other tools do you use to teach learners how to read, write, and participate on the Web?

Want to join in the conversation but haven’t yet tried Thimble?

Here are some activities to play with (and remix) ahead of time.

  • My Six-Word Summer – http://mzl.la/1ijW9Lh
  • Remix My Schedule – http://mzl.la/1FS0zyu
  • Homework Excuse Generator – http://mzl.la/1KmbN04

Mozilla Thimble

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Developing Curriculum for Universal Web Literacy

Chad Sansing

How do you teach and learn in ways you can’t imagine teaching and learning?


Photo Credit: Sarah Durham

That’s the question. That’s the driver behind my curriculum development work toward Universal Web Literacy at the Mozilla Learning Networks. I spent the better part of my 14-year public-teaching teaching career wondering how I could use my experience to speak to someone else’s. That work continues in my new role, and I keep that question in mind all the time.

It’s not solitary work, that’s not a question I can answer on my own. I am supremely grateful for my new colleagues and for the #teachtheweb community members around the world, just as I was grateful to have students willing to play around with learning, to question my teaching, and to suggest other ways to make our shared work matter to them.

After the first few weeks of learning the culture and surveying the curricular landscape, here’s what I’m thinking of while looking ahead.


We need a process that’s truly open in that it engages our community, meets its real needs, and benefits from its wisdom. We need open products that teachers and learners can use to read, write, and participate on the Web – and that our partners can use to explain and champion the Open Web to their stakeholders and leaders.We can gauge how successful we are at being open by how often our users remix content – like this Webmaker App teaching kit - from it.


We need to develop curriculum that can be customized at the community- and individual levels – curriculum that is hyper-localizable. We should continue to design and develop learning activities that highlight localization, modularity and remixability for different audiences as strengths. We want to share a strong curriculum, but we also want to share out, model, and suggest best practices for remix  – like this media hacking activity for girls – so that the focus is on replicating learners’ successes through customized materials rather than on teachers’ absolute fidelity to our plans.


Universal Web Literacy is a constant, urgent, and global need that could easily outlast our efforts to meet it. We should help local educators sustain their efforts to teach the Web by developing and releasing relevant curriculum at a dependable rate and in response to community feedback through forums like Discourse, Hive communities, and face-to-face trainings. If we can do that, we can start a virtuous loop of development, testing, iteration, and release that sustains itself and holds us accountable to our mission.


If we want a curriculum that’s more than a checklist, we have to make the Web real. We should develop lessons that let teachers play and build alongside learners so that they make something that serves as a metaphor for what happens next on the Web. Moreover, we need to close each activity or assessment with rich, reflective questions that help learners connect the Web to their worlds.

Connected Learning, design thinking, and game design

These are the frameworks I keep in mind as a curriculum developer. In particular, I’m focused on the “openly networked” and “production centered” principles from Connected Learning. I’m thinking of participatory activities and assessments as design challenges. In drawing from game design, I want to adapt Mark Rosewater’s “Ten Things Every Game Needs” into “Ten Things Every Curriculum Needs,” while avoiding gamification.

Exploratory design

Exploratory design (also borrowed from Rosewater) is a future-facing design process that happens parallel to present-day development. For example, let’s say we spend two weeks working on the next module in our Web Literacy curriculum. Could we spend the next week sprinting on a Thimble extension that makes it easier to read for someone who has trouble processing text? The idea here is to have one team – or one block of time – dedicated to developing what comes next and another team – or another block of time – dedicated to puzzling out how to teach and learn the Web in ways we haven’t yet imagined.

Looking ahead

If we want Universal Web Literacy to become a global movement, then its value needs to be ingrained in our cultures. What does Web Literacy look like in our brightest future? In our darkest one? What does it look like in a resource-rich or resource-scarce age? After a resurgence or collapse? What are the Web Literacy artifacts we leave to the far future? To deep time? How will our work be remembered as an ancestor of whatever Web comes next?

These are the imponderables I love to ponder alongside the challenges facing us today in producing relevant, accessible, and remixable curriculum that helps as many people as possible read, write, and participate on the Web. I hope I can be of help – and I know I will need yours. Let me know how you think we can do a better job sharing our love of learning and mission to teach the Web through the Mozilla Learning Networks curriculum. You can find me on our community forum, Discourse, reach me by email at chad@mozillafoundation.org, or tweet @chadsansing.


Furthering Our Commitment to Gigabit Cities and the Web’s Future

Lindsey Frost

The Mozilla Foundation is furthering its commitment to gigabit innovation in the U.S. with the help of a three-year, $3.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The grant builds on Mozilla’s ongoing partnership with US Ignite, a national non-profit initiative that seeks to expand gigabit technology, the next-generation internet access that is about 250 times faster than the internet most of us use.

At the White House Smart Cities Summit today, the NSF is announcing the grant, which allows Mozilla to grow its existing Hive communities in the gigabit cities of Chattanooga, TN and Kansas City, MO, plus expand to three additional, still-to-be-determined gigabit cities. Mozilla Hives are learning networks composed of educational, nonprofit, civic and cultural institutions. Hives empower individuals by teaching digital skills through hands-on curricula, innovative tools, and inclusive communities.

Children at a Mini Maker Faire Chattanooga, which showcased Gigabit Community Fund projects

Children at Mini Maker Faire Chattanooga, which showcased Gigabit Community Fund projects

Our goals in the Gigabit Hive communities include demonstrating the need for gigabit networks, seeding demand for further investment, creating tools that improve local education and workforce development, and teaching web literacy. There will be $150,000 in grants available in each city during the first year of the program. These grants will support the development of gigabit technology pilots and associated curricula on the ground in local learning organizations. We’re empowering local classroom teachers, informal educators, and technologists as co-creators and beta testers of technology at the bleeding edge of the Web. We believe the Web is an invaluable tool for learning and unlocking opportunities and progress. And when people are equipped with a lightning-fast Web, amazing things can happen.

This grant follows a 2014 NSF grant that spurred gigabit innovation in Chattanooga and Kansas City. In these two cities, we’ve worked with 30 partner institutions to foster and pilot 17 gigabit apps, like real-time water monitoring systems, 3D learning tools for classrooms, specialized technology for first responder training, and more. We’re looking forward to continuing this work and creating more innovative tools capable of making a positive difference in the world.

A Hive Chattanooga meetup, where technologists, classroom teachers, and informal educators meet, mingle, and explore opportunities for collaboration

A Hive Chattanooga meetup, where technologists, classroom teachers, and informal educators meet, mingle, and explore opportunities for collaboration

The $3.2 million grant is part of a larger investment by the NSF and US Ignite to apply gigabit technology to the realms of healthcare, energy, and education.

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#teachtheweb is Making an Impact – What’s Your Story?

Kristina Gorr

We kicked off a recent Mozilla Learning planning meeting by asking the team to share brief stories about friends, family, and community members who have been positively impacted by our work in some way.

We received incredible stories! In fact, one of our goals is to collect and share more inspiring stories about how you #teachtheweb. So, consider this the first of many posts that illustrate how the diverse Mozilla Learning community is helping us achieve our mission of universal web literacy in homes, classrooms, and cities around the globe.

We’ve highlighted a few examples below, and you can find more here. Prepare to be inspired!

  • Sue Smith, co-founder of Hack Aye in Scotland, recently shared in a recent blog post: “Mozilla’s learning programs led me to co-found  a new creative technology organisation in Scotland. With Hack Aye, our goal is to develop an engagement model exploring open source practices as a method to increase participation in work, education and community, initially via the arts, technology and activism. The idea is inspired by many of Mozilla’s initiatives, particularly Hive Learning Networks.” 
teachtheweb, Mozilla Learning Network

Train-the-trainer workshop for women in Hyderabad, India


  • Best Britta Badour has a great way of teaching young people through spoken word and has started to access our work to bring into her after school programming. Learn more about her here.
  • Melissa Mark Viverito, NYC Council Speaker framed digital access as digital literacy across the five boroughs for constituents and residents.

NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito at the Digital Inclusion Summit

  • Madeleine Bonsma is a Study Group Lead at the University of Toronto. She’s in the process of planning a semester of open science lessons with about 10 others. Her commentary on the project at hand was simply, “What a time to be alive.”
  • Marina Malone is a high school student who was inspired to contribute to an open-source  project in Chicago (RideW/Me) and has quickly realized the potential of the Web. “Input from a variety of people is key, and the Internet has made it so much easier for us to get connected, from little things like asking my friends which color looks great on green through Facebook, to awesome stuff like getting an actual graphic designer from Canada   collaboratively making a style guide with us through YouTube and Slack. The Web is a hub for collaboration, and it can be used to find people who genuinely want other people to succeed.”

Article about Ride With Me app created by, for and with youth in Chicago


Have an inspiring story you want to share?

Head over to our Discourse forum and share it proudly. You can also reach us anytime at @MozTeach or teachtheweb@mozillafoundation.org. 

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