TED

Education Everywhere: A night of talks about the future of learning, in partnership with TED-Ed

TED-Ed’s Stephanie Lo (left) and TED’s own Cloe Shasha co-host the salon Education Everywhere, on January 24, 2019, at the TED World Theater in New York City. (Photo: Dian Lofton / TED)

The event: TED Salon: Education Everywhere, curated by Cloe Shasha, TED’s director of speaker development; Stephanie Lo, director of programs for TED-Ed; and Logan Smalley, director of TED-Ed

The partner: Bezos Family Foundation and ENDLESS

When and where: Thursday, January 24, 2019, at the TED World Theater in New York City

Music: Little Nora Brown fingerpicking the banjo

The big idea: We’re relying on educators to teach more skills than ever before — for a future we can’t quite predict.

Awesome animations: Courtesy of TED-Ed, whose videos are watched by more than two million learners around the world everyday

New idea (to us anyway): Poverty may stunt the growth of a child’s cerebral cortex. So … let’s try giving parents more money?

Good to be reminded: Education doesn’t just happen in the classroom. It happens online, in our businesses, our social systems and beyond.

Little Nora Brown, who picked up the ukulele at age six, brings her old-time banjo sound to the TED stage. (Photo: Dian Lofton / TED)


The talks in brief:

Kimberly Noble, a neuroscientist and director of the Neurocognition, Early Experience and Development Lab at Columbia University

  • Big idea: We might be able to improve how impoverished children learn by giving their families money.
  • How: Poverty may stunt the growth of a child’s cerebral cortex — and a larger cortex, on average, predicts higher intelligence. Early intervention can bulk up brains, but by the time kids start kindergarten, it’s too late. Noble’s lab wants to know if simply giving families more money might increase cortex mass in their preschool kids.
  • Quote of the talk: “The brain is not destiny, and if a child’s brain can be changed, then anything is possible.”

Olympia Della Flora, associate superintendent for school development for Stamford Public Schools in Connecticut, and the former principal at Ohio Avenue Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio

  • Big idea: Healthy emotional hygiene means higher academic scores and happier kids.
  • How: Teachers at Ohio Avenue Elementary found they could improve engagement (and the overall atmosphere) by addressing student behavior proactively, rather than just reacting to kids when they acted out. They built healthy coping strategies into the day — simple things like stopping for brain breaks, singing songs and even doing yoga poses — to help kids navigate their emotions in and out of the classroom.
  • Quote of the talk: “Small changes make huge differences, and it’s possible to start right now. You don’t need bigger budgets or grand, strategic plans. You simply need smarter ways to think about using what you have, where you have it.”

Marcos Silva, a TED-Ed Innovative Educator and public school teacher in McAllen, Texas; and Ana Rodriguez, a student who commutes three hours every day to school from Mexico

  • Big idea: Understanding what’s going on with students outside of school is important, too.
  • How: Silva grew up bringing the things he learned at school about American culture and the English language back to his parents, who were immigrants from Mexico. Now a teacher, he’s helping students like Ana Rodriquez to explore their culture, community and identity.
  • Quote of the talk: “Good grades are important, but it’s also important to feel confident and empowered.”

Joel Levin, a technology teacher and the cofounder of MinecraftEdu

  • Big idea: Educators can use games to teach any subject — and actually get kids excited to be in school.
  • How: Levin is a big fan of Minecraft, the game that lets players build digital worlds out of blocks with near-endless variety. In the classroom, Minecraft and similar games can be used to spark creativity, celebrate ingenuity and get kids to debate complex topics like government, poverty and power.
  • Quote of the talk: “One of my daughters even learned to spell because she wanted to communicate within the game. She spelled ‘home.’”

Jarrell E. Daniels offers a new vision for the criminal justice system centered on education and growth. (Photo: Dian Lofton / TED)

Jarrell E. Daniels, criminal justice activist and Columbia University Justice-In-Education Scholar

  • Big idea: Collaborative education can help us create more justice.
  • How: A few weeks before his release from state prison, Daniels took a unique course called Inside Criminal Justice, where he learned in a classroom alongside prosecutors and police officers, people he couldn’t imagine having anything in common with. In class, Daniels connected with and told his story to those in power — and has since found a way to make an impact on the criminal justice system through the power of conversation.
  • Quote of the talk: “It is through education that we will arrive at a truth that is inclusive and unites us all in a pursuit of justice.”

Liz Kleinrock, third-grade teacher and diversity coordinator at a charter school in Los Angeles

  • Big idea: It’s not easy to talk with kids about taboo subjects like race and equity, but having these conversations early prevents bigger problems in the future.
  • How: Like teaching students to read, speaking about tough topics requires breaking down concepts and words until they make sense. It doesn’t mean starting with an incredibly complex idea, like why mass incarceration exists — it means starting with the basics, like what’s fair and what isn’t. It requires practice, doing it every day until it’s easier to do.
  • Quote of the talk: “Teaching kids about equity is not about teaching them what to think. It’s about giving them the tools, strategies and opportunities to practice how to think.”

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Meet the 2019 TED Fellows and Senior Fellows

The TED Fellows program turns 10 in 2019 — and to mark this important milestone, we’re excited to kick off the year of celebration by announcing the impressive new group of TED2019 Fellows and Senior Fellows! This year’s TED Fellows class represents 12 countries across four continents; they’re leaders in their fields — ranging from astrodynamics to policing to conservation and beyond — and they’re looking for new ways to collaborate and address today’s most complex challenges.

The TED Fellows program supports extraordinary, iconoclastic individuals at work on world-changing projects, providing them with access to the global TED platform and community, as well as new tools and resources to amplify their remarkable vision. The TED Fellows program now includes 472 Fellows who work across 96 countries, forming a powerful, far-reaching network of artists, scientists, doctors, activists, entrepreneurs, inventors, journalists and beyond, each dedicated to making our world better and more equitable. Read more about their visionary work on the TED Fellows blog.

Below, meet the group of Fellows and Senior Fellows who will join us at TED2019, April 15-19, in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Alexis Gambis
Alexis Gambis (USA | France)
Scientist + filmmaker
Filmmaker and biologist creating films that merge scientific data with narrative in an effort to make stories of science more accessible.


Ali Al-Ibrahim
Ali Al-Ibrahim (Syria | Sweden)
Investigative journalist
Journalist reporting on the front lines of the Syrian conflict and creating films about the daily struggles of Syrians.


Amma Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin
Amma Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin (USA)
Scholar + artist
Scholar and artist working across academia and the entertainment industry to transform archival material about black identity into theatrical performances.


Arnav Kapur
Arnav Kapur (USA | India)
Technologist
Inventor creating wearable AI devices that augment human cognition and give voice to those who have lost their ability to speak.


Wild fishing cats live in the Mangrove forests of southeast Asia, feeding on fish and mangrove crab in the surrounding waters. Not much is known about this rare species. Conservationist Ashwin Naidu and his organization, Fishing Cat Conservancy, are working to protect these cats and their endangered habitat. (Photo: Anjani Kumar/Fishing Cat Conservancy)

Ashwin Naidu
Ashwin Naidu (USA | India)
Fishing cat conservationist
Conservationist and co-founder of Fishing Cat Conservancy, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting fishing cats and their endangered mangrove habitat.


Brandon Anderson
Brandon Anderson (USA)
Data entrepreneur
Human rights activist and founder of Raheem AI, a tech nonprofit working to end police violence through data collection, storytelling and community organizing.


Brandon Clifford
Brandon Clifford (USA)
Ancient technology architect
Architectural designer and co-founder of Matter Design, an interdisciplinary design studio that uses the technology of ancient civilizations to solve contemporary problems.


Bruce Friedrich
Bruce Friedrich (USA)
Food innovator
Founder of the Good Food Institute, an organization supporting the creation of plant and cell-based meat for a more healthy and sustainable food system.


Christopher Bahl
Christopher Bahl (USA)
Protein designer
Molecular engineer using computational design to develop new protein drugs that combat infectious disease.


Erika Hamden
Erika Hamden (USA)
Astrophysicist
Astrophysicist developing telescopes and new ultraviolet detection technologies to improve our ability to observe distant galaxies.


Federica Bianco
Federica Bianco (USA | Italy)
Urban astrophysicist
Astrophysicist using an interdisciplinary approach to study stellar explosions and help build resilient cities by applying astronomical data processing techniques to urban science.


Gangadhar Patil
Gangadhar Patil (India)
Journalism entrepreneur
Journalist and founder of 101Reporters, an innovative platform connecting grassroots journalists with international publishers to spotlight rural reporting.


In Tokyo Medical University for Rejected Women, multimedia artist Hiromi Ozaki explores the systematic discrimination of female applicants to medical school in Japan. (Photo: Hiromi Ozaki)

Hiromi Ozaki
Hiromi Ozaki (Japan | UK)
Artist
Artist creating music, film and multimedia installations that explore the social and ethical implications of emerging technologies.


Ivonne Roman
Ivonne Roman (USA)
Police captain
Police captain and co-founder of the Women’s Leadership Academy, an organization working to increase the recruitment and retention of women in policing.


Jess Kutch
Jess Kutch (USA)
Labor entrepreneur
Co-founder of Coworker.org, a labor organization for the 21st century helping workers solve problems and advance change through an open online platform.


Leila Pirhaji
Leila Pirhaji (Iran | USA)
Biotech entrepreneur
Computational biologist and founder of ReviveMed, a biotech company pioneering the use of artificial intelligence for drug discovery and treatment of metabolic diseases.


Morangels Mbizah
Moreangels Mbizah (Zimbabwe)
Lion conservationist
Conservation biologist developing innovative community-based conservation methods to protect lions and their habitat.


Moriba Jah
Moriba Jah (USA)
Space environmentalist
Astrodynamicist tracking and monitoring satellites and space garbage to make outer space safe, secure and sustainable for future generations.


Muthoni Ndonga
Muthoni Ndonga (Kenya)
Musician
Musician and cultural entrepreneur fusing traditional drum patterns and modern styles such as hip-hop and reggae to create the sound of “African cool.”


Nanfu Wang
Nanfu Wang (China | USA)
Documentary filmmaker
Documentary filmmaker uncovering stories of human rights and untold histories in China through a characteristic immersive approach.


TED2019 Senior Fellows

Senior Fellows embody the spirit of the TED Fellows program. They attend four additional TED events, mentor new Fellows and continue to share their remarkable work with the TED community.

Adital Ela
Adital Ela (Israel)
Sustainable materials designer
Entrepreneur developing sustainable materials and construction methods that mimic natural processes and minimize environmental impact.


Anita Doron
Anita Doron (Canada | Hungary)
Filmmaker
Filmmaker who wrote The Breadwinner, an Oscar-nominated coming-of-age story set in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.


Jessica Ladd
Constance Hockaday (USA)
Artist
Artist creating experiential performances on public waterways that examine issues surrounding public space, political voice and belonging.


Jorge Mañes Rubio
Eman Mohammed (USA | Palestine)
Photojournalist
Photojournalist documenting contemporary issues, including race relations and immigration, often through a characteristic long-form approach.


Erine Gray
Erine Gray (USA)
Social services entrepreneur
Software developer and founder of Aunt Bertha, a platform helping people access social services such as food banks, health care, housing and educational programs.


In one of her projects, documentary photographer Kiana Hayeri took a rare, intimate look at the lives of single mothers in Afghanistan, capturing their struggles and strengths. Here, two children hang a picture of their father. (Photo: Kiana Hayeri)

Kiana Hayeri
Kiana Hayeri (Canada | Iran)
Documentary photographer
Documentary photographer exploring complex topics such as migration, adolescence and sexuality in marginalized communities.


An illustration of Tungsenia, an early relative of lungfish. Paleobiologist Lauren Sallan studies the vast fossil records to explore how extinctions of fish like this have affected biodiversity in the earth’s oceans. (Photo: Nobu Tamura)

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Lauren Sallan (USA)
Paleobiologist
Paleobiologist using the vast fossil record as a deep time database to explore how mass extinctions, environmental change and shifting ecologies impact biodiversity.


David Sengeh
Pratik Shah (USA | India)
Health technologist
Scientist developing new artificial intelligence technologies for antibiotic discovery, faster clinical trials and tools to help doctors better diagnose patients.


Premesh Chandran
Premesh Chandran (Malaysia)
Journalism entrepreneur
Cofounder and CEO of Malaysiakini.com, the most popular independent online news organization in Malaysia, which is working to create meaningful political change.


Samuel “Blitz the Ambassador” Bazawule
Samuel “Blitz the Ambassador” Bazawule (USA | Ghana)
Musician + filmmaker
Hip-hop artist and filmmaker telling stories of the polyphonic African diaspora.

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Up for Debate: Talks from TED and Doha Debates

At TED Salon: Up for Debate, held January 16, 2019, at the TED World Theater in New York, NY, five speakers shared ideas for tackling society’s thorniest issues, joined via video by people worldwide. (Photo: Dian Lofton / TED)

The world is more interconnected than ever before — and the need to bridge political and ideological divides has never been more urgent. Now is the time to examine the rules of genuine human engagement, to find common ground for respectful, passionate discourse and to celebrate civility.

That’s the idea behind TED Salon: Up for Debate, a session of talks hosted by TED Residency director Cyndi Stivers and presented in partnership with Doha Debates — a newly revitalized media venture that seeks to inspire action and collaborative solutions to global challenges through debate. On Wednesday, January 16, five speakers took the stage of the TED World Theater in New York City; meanwhile, five groups of people from around the world joined the session live via Shared_Studios‘s “Portals” project. In reclaimed shipping containers outfitted with AV equipment, the groups in Doha, Qatar; Kigali, Rwanda; Herat, Afghanistan; Hardy County, West Virginia; and Mexico City were invited to share their thoughts on hot topics in their parts of the world and respond to the talks in New York in real time.

After an opening song performed by the Brooklyn Nomads, the session kicked off with journalist Steven Petrow.

Civility shouldn’t be a dirty word. What does it mean to be a “civilist” — an archaic title describing an “individual who tries to live by a moral code” — in a world where “civility” is a dirty word? Voices on the right conflate civility with political correctness, believing it to be a tool for the left to demonize their opposition. On the left, civility is considered immoral if it allows for the acquiescence to injustice — think of Martin Luther King Jr. or the Suffragists, who made changes by speaking out. But does civility actually stifle debate? As Petrow sees it, civility doesn’t mean appeasement or avoiding important differences; it means listening and talking about those differences with respect. Reasonable discussions are crucial to a healthy democracy, he says, while hate speech, cyberbullying and threats are not; in fact, they suppress conversation by telling us, “Shut up or else.” What we need now are rules of engagement — “a Geneva Convention of civility to become better citizens.” He offers three ways citizens can work toward the greater good: de-escalate language; challenge policies and positions, not character; and don’t mistake decorum for civility.

Rana Abdelhamid shares three ingredients to starting an international movement and her story of starting a self-defense class in her community. She speaks at TEDSalon: Up for Debate, January 16, 2019, at the TED World Theater in New York, NY. (Photo: Dian Lofton / TED)

The secret recipe to starting a movement. According to human rights organizer Rana Abdelhamid, there are three ingredients to creating an international movement: Start with what you know, start with who you know and, most important, start with joy. After a stranger aggressively tried to remove her hijab, the 16-year-old Abdelhamid (who happens to be a first-degree black belt) began teaching self-defense to women and girls in a community center basement. But she  realized that she didn’t want the class to focus on fear — instead, she wanted her students to experience the class as an exercise in mental and physical well-being. That one class has evolved into Malikah, a grassroots organization spanning 17 cities in 12 countries that offers security and self-defense training that’s specific to wherever a person may live and how they walk through the world.

Audience members in a “Portal” in Doha, Qatar, speak live with salon host Cyndi Stivers, sharing their experiences with the media in their home country. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Next up, coming to us live from Doha, Qatar, a group of students who’ve gathered in a Shared_Studios Portal explains how the media has shaped their world — from employment to health to education and beyond. Some outlets have started promoting hate speech and fake news, they say, manipulating people in dangerous ways and sparking a debate about the role the media should play. We turn to the Portal in Mexico City, where students explain how, on the heels of their country’s recent transformative election, it’s becoming more important than ever to work together and understand that humanity is part of one force: “Now, kindness is the ultimate intelligence.”

Real dialogue is possible. Journalist Eve Pearlman is on a mission to bridge the political divide in the United States. With the help of her friend and fellow journalist Jeremy Hay, she founded Spaceship Media, dedicated to bringing together people on different sides of a political spectrum to create “dialogue journalism.” Their first dialogue asked Trump supporters from Alabama how they think Clinton voters in California perceive them — and vice versa. “By identifying stereotypes at the start of each project, we find that people begin to see the simplistic and often mean-spirited caricatures they carry,” Pearlman says, “and after that, we can move into the process of real conversation.” Pearlman and Hay want to bring trust back into journalism — moving away from clickbait reporting and toward transparency and care for the communities these journalists serve. When journalists and citizens come together in discussion, people that otherwise would have never met end up speaking with each other — and feeling grateful to know first-hand that the other side isn’t crazy, Pearlman says: “Real engagement across difference: this is the salve that our democracy sorely needs.”

Are all millennials lazy, entitled avocado-toast lovers? Author Reniqua Allen calls on us to take a broader, more nuanced view — and specifically, to listen to the 43 percent of millennials who are non-white. She speaks at TEDSalon: Up for Debate, January 16, 2019, at the TED World Theater in New York, NY. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Why we need to listen to millennials — all of them. Millennials aren’t a monolith, says author Reniqua Allen, but too often, we treat them like they are. By simplifying millennials to a worn-out stereotype of lazy, entitled avocado-toast lovers, Allen warns that we erase the vast multitude of millennial backgrounds and experiences, particularly the unique experiences of black millennials. Millennials are the largest, most diverse adult population in the country, she says, and 43 percent are non-white. While researching her book It Was All a Dream, Allen heard from black millennials like Joelle, who couldn’t attend her dream school because it was too expensive; AB, an actor who fears racial bias is limiting his success in Hollywood; and Simon, a tech company CFO who gave up a passion for photography because he didn’t have the financial safety net to take the risk. “These kind of stories — the quieter, more subtle ones — reveal the unique and often untold story of black millennials, show how even dreaming may differ between communities,” Allen says. Though black creatives, politicians and athletes are thriving, racist structures and ideologies haven’t gone away — and they affect the everyday experiences of millennials across the country. 

Next up, we check in with Kigali, Rwanda. The Rwandans in the Portal say that their most pressing issue is the trade war between Rwanda and the US. In 2016, the Rwandan government increased import duties on used clothing from the US in order to encourage domestic clothing production. Since then, the US has suspended certain trade benefits Rwanda receives under the African Growth and Opportunity Act — namely, those allowing Rwanda to export goods to the US without tariffs. They remind us that Rwanda is a young country; what’s on their mind is the need to build up self-dependence, in large part through the economic ability to dictate the prices of the goods they trade with the world. Meanwhile, in Herat, Afghanistan, participants in the Portal share how their community is trying to adapt to the international attitude. They’re eager for technology and social media to help meet and connect with people from other countries; they say that social media, in particular, has opened a gateway for women in Afghanistan.

Tweeting at a terrorist. Twitter is frequently “where you go to get yelled at by people you don’t know,” says counterterrorism expert and blogger Clint Watts. But it can also be a great place to interact with someone you otherwise might not encounter — someone like Omar Hammami, a rapping terrorist who traded tweets with Watts in 2013. Hammami grew up in Mobile, Alabama. Watts notes that had they ever met, “We probably would’ve shared a box of Krispy Kreme donuts.” Instead, Hammami joined the notorious terror group al Shabaab, where his Western background was exploited as propaganda — especially when he became a viral celebrity for his pro-jihad YouTube raps. Hammami eventually fell out with al Shabaab and, hunted by both counterterrorists and the mujahideen, hid in Somalia, where he obsessively tweeted about his plight. Intrigued, Watts engaged him in banter on everything from the caliphate to Reading Rainbow — a poignant reminder of Hammami’s lingering ties to his home country. In the end, this unlikely social media friendship was not enough to save Hammami, who was assassinated. Watts wonders, as Hammami’s murderous ex-comrades closed in: “Did his thoughts reach for jihad and his faith, or did he reach for his family, his friends, his life back in Alabama, and the path he didn’t choose?”

The salon comes to a close with a Portal appearance from students in Hardy County, West Virginia. The most contentious topic in their area? Resistance to change. As one of the participants says: “People hold so tight to their family traditions and what they learned growing up.” Yet hope remains. The students see themselves as activists, looking to help those in their community who are brought down by discrimination and lack of acceptance.

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Jim Yong Kim steps down from the World Bank and other news from the TED community


2019 is starting off big for the TED community — below, some highlights.

 

Jim Yong Kim resigns from the World Bank. In an unexpected move, Jim Yong Kim announced that he will be stepping down from his position as President of the World Bank by the end of the month. According to The New York Times, he will be joining a development-focused private investment fund, and plans to rejoin the board of Partners in Health, the nonprofit he co-founded in 1987. In a statement, Kim said, “It has been a great honor to serve as president of this remarkable institution, full of passionate individuals dedicated to the mission of ending extreme poverty in our lifetime.” (Watch Kim’s TED Talk.)

 

Feminist icon considered for BBC Wales statue. TV writer Elaine Morgan is one of five women being considered for the BBC’s Hidden Heroines statue project. Known for her blockbuster 30-year television writing career and for her book The Descent of Woman, which foregrounded women in the story of human evolution, Morgan disrupted male-dominated fields to forge her path in media. (She is also known for promoting a controversial theory that humans evolved from aquatic apes.) The statue would be the first of a real woman in Wales; the BBC has produced a learning resource kit on Morgan and the four other heroines. The decision will be made by public vote toward the end of January 2019. (Watch Morgan’s TED Talk.)

 

BAFTA nomination for a daring documentary. Free Solo, a film that documented rock climber Alex Honnold’s death-defying 2017 summit of El Capitan in Yosemite Park, was nominated for a BAFTA. Produced by National Geographic and Image Nation Abu Dhabi, the film follows Hannold over two years of zealous preparation, which culminated in his successful rope-free climb of the 3,200-foot El Capitan Wall. The trailer is available here; the award winners will be announced in February. (Watch Honnold’s TED Talk.)

 

A new study on Earth’s only walking fish. Ichthyologist Prosanta Chakrabarty is co-leading a new study at Louisiana State University on Cryptotora thamicola, the blind cavefish that can walk on land. The study, in collaboration with New Jersey Institute of Technology and the University of Florida, seeks to better understand how these fish have evolved. Chakrabarty’s team at LSU will perform genomic sequencing in order to discover more about the molecular makeup and history of the cavefish. In a statement, Chakrabarty said, “Combining robotics, genomics and CT morphological examinations, this collaboration could help us visualize evolution in a brand new light.” (Watch Chakrabarty’s TED Talk.)

 

A new interview on being brave. Girls Who Code founder and CEO Reshma Saujani spoke to the American Booksellers Association this week on her forthcoming book Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, and Live Bolder. “My hope is that by sharing my story, and the lessons and stories I have learned from women across the country, booksellers will leave my talk empowered and excited to go flex their own bravery muscles.” she said. Saujani will also give a keynote speech at the ABA’s Winter Institute later this month. (Watch Saujani’s TED Talk.)

 

Seeking answers in an untimely death. Alongside producer Lina Misitzis, journalist Jon Ronson launched The Last Days of August, a new podcast investigating the death of adult entertainment star August Ames. In 2017, Ames faced severe backlash to a tweet perceived by many as homophobic; the following day, she committed suicide. Ames’ death sparked dialogue in the entertainment industry around cyberbullying, homophobia, and the impacts of social media. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Ronson said, “We had stumbled into a story where what we had to do was figure out the truth of why August died. We look at the huge things and the very small, subtle, nuanced, psychological things that contributed to her death. I can hope that people can see the humanness of that.” The full podcast can be streamed on Audible. (Watch Ronson’s TED Talk here.)

 

An advice column that “prescribes” poetry. Sarah Kay — alongside fellow resident poets Kaveh Akbar and Claire Schwartz — has begun Poetry Rx, a poetry-focused column for The Paris Review. Each week, the poets take turns suggesting the perfect poems to match specific emotions that readers write in about (such as commemorating a bittersweet accomplishment, exploring vulnerability, or other moments in the human condition). Read the full column here. (Watch Kay’s TED Talk.)

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A new year, and new progress from The Audacious Project

Blandina Herman of Tanzania sits with her granddaughter amid part of the maize she harvested in 2018. Before enrolling with One Acre Fund, she harvested seven bags a year. She now harvests more than double that. Photo: Courtesy of One Acre Fund

In 2018, TED launched The Audacious Project — a new model with the goal of changing the way that change is made. By surfacing big, bold, ambitious ideas with the possibility to change systems and affect millions of lives, and then bringing together groups of donors and the public to support them, the program is already having incredible impact. Read on for updates on the first Audacious projects and their progress last year.

Celebrating 11 sites for The Bail Project

Over the course of last year, The Bail Project opened sites in nine new locations beyond its initial two — with its latest in Spokane, Washington, and Indianapolis, Indiana. With local teams of bail disruptors at each of these sites working hard to make sure that each person bailed out has what they need to return it to court — and to ease back into their lives with dignity — the organization has freed 3,300 people, reuniting them with their families and restoring the presumption of innocence so they can make decisions about their cases from a place of freedom rather than desperation. But beyond that, founder Robin Steinberg has helmed a sea change, making more and more people recognize that cash bail creates a two-tier criminal justice system — one for the rich and one for everyone else — and sharing The Bail Project’s vision of a more equitable alternative. Check out The Bail Project on Dateline. In addition, listen to Robin’s in-depth conversation with TED curator Chris Anderson on The TED Interview, or watch her recent Q&A at TEDxKCWomen about how cash bail affects women specifically.

Bail Project volunteers in Louisville, Kentucky, put together care bags to send home with clients. They include water, snacks and basic toiletries. Photo: Courtesy of The Bail Fund

As climate outlook darkens, EDF takes action

In the fall of 2018, a special report from climate experts across the globe stressed that, to avoid a crisis by 2040, humanity must take action now. MethaneSAT is poised to be a key player, and last year, EDF made big progress toward launching this satellite to map and measure global methane emissions. In addition to building their leadership team and validating the satellite’s design, they secured commitments from oil and gas companies to reduce their methane leaks. And since the start of this year, they’ve announced that two leading aerospace industry companies are now under competitive contract to refine the design and decide which will actually build MethaneSAT. 2018 was a year that brought a lot of attention to methane as a key environmental issue — California committed to reducing its methane emissions, and both Canada and Mexico issued ambitious regulations to limit emissions from oil and gas companies. Check out EDF’s 2018 year in review to see how MethaneSAT fits into the organization’s larger strategy and how it will enable even more action on this front, with a goal of reducing global methane emissions from the oil and gas industry 45% by 2025.

Major new funding for trachoma elimination

Sightsavers spent 2018 building on the momentum generated by the launch of The Audacious Project. In December, they announced their Accelerate Trachoma Elimination Programme, a now-$105 million fund dedicated to their idea of ending blinding trachoma, and they shared this news onstage at the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100. This new program is unprecedented in scope, and will help eliminate trachoma in at least 10 countries while speeding up progress in others. Read about it in The Chronicle of Philanthropy. And check out these inspiring stories from Sightsavers’ network: Caroline Harper’s account of how taking a midlife gap year helped her find her calling, and the story of ophthalmic nurse Givemore Mafukidze, who lives in northern Zimbabwe and carries out eye health screenings.

Givemore Mafukidze has been an ophthalmic nurse for a decade, and each day travels to villages in his district to give eye screenings. “It makes me very happy to see a child with trachoma being treated,” he says. Photo: Courtesy of Sightsavers

Toward the Summer of Selma

In 2018, T. Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison of GirlTrek were named Game Changers by Women’s Health magazine, had The Root applaud them for their “literal movement for Black Women,” and were featured in a NowThis video that took more than 8 million viewers along the way for their 100-mile retracing of Harriet Tubman’s path of the Underground Railroad. In every month of last year’s walking season, GirlTrek registered more than 5,000 new trekkers. At the same time, the organization kicked off a 12-month, 50-city tour called the #RoadtoSelma, holding teach-ins across the US in anticipation of 2019’s Summer of Selma. The big event will be held in late May. It will begin with a trek along the historic 54-mile path from Selma to Montgomery taken by Civil Rights Movement leaders in 1965, and will end with a three-day festival — from May 24 to 27, 2019 — that promises to be the “Woodstock of Black Girl Healing.”

New views of the ocean’s twilight zone

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) kicked off its unprecedented exploration of the ocean’s twilight zone in 2018. Its first expedition launched a new vehicle, the Deep-See, and brought back more than 22 terabytes of data plus a haul of specimens and a wealth of new information from this largely unexplored part of the ocean. Check out The New York Times’ look at some of the most interesting findings. Meanwhile, a second expedition — NASA EXPORTS — is bringing new insights into the role that the twilight zone plays in Earth’s climate system by helping transport carbon from the ocean surface, where it can contribute to global warming, to long-term storage in the deep ocean. And WHOI has lots more planned for 2019.

The Deep-See is a new tool that’s already giving scientists unprecedented data from the ocean’s twilight zone. Photo: Courtesy of WHOI

800,000 farmers served, and counting

In 2018, One Acre Fund worked with more than 800,000 client families, helping them achieve food security and build better livelihoods. At the same time, they made it possible for smallholder farmers to adopt 200,000 solar lights and plant 15 million trees — a big win, as trees increase in value over time, require little labor, return vital nutrients to the land and sequester carbon. In addition, One Acre Fund was featured in Forbes and called a bottom-up model of development that works by South Africa’s IOL Business Report. At the heart of their efforts: technology that meets small-scale farmers where they are, enabling them to pay for services on mobile phones and receive receipts and advice via SMS. Read more about their approach on their blog.

Big wins for community health worker programs

At the close of 2018, Living Goods and Last Mile Health were on track to digitally empowered 14,000community health workers (CHWs) in East and West Africa, which would mean more than 7.6 million people reached. Together, their community health workers delivered close to a million lifesaving treatments for children and supported more than 200,000 women through pregnancies. In addition to securing a new partnership with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to explore how CHWs can close the immunization gap in hard-to-reach areas across the globe, the two organizations also launched an advocacy campaign, called Communities at the Heart of Universal Health Coverage, that highlights the importance of investing in community heath programs to achieve universal health coverage. And in 2019, Last Mile Health will launch the first course of its Community Health Academy.

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