By decentralizing the power of narrative, Me/We activates young changemakers w/ collaborative #storytelling, creative problem-solving, & SEL



#MeWeSyria is a social and emotional learning (SEL) and civic engagement program for supporting peer to peer healing, countering violent extremism (CVE), and non-violent forms of communication (NVC) targeting Syrian boys and girls, ages 12-18 years old. The program is founded on the principles of SEL and psychosocial therapy (Narrative and Logo Therapy) where communications skills- building and storytelling are utilized as tools for peer to peer healing, team building, empathy, and creative problem solving.

#MeWeSyria is founded on a training of trainers (ToT)  model that involves a process of experiential learning and co-creation sessions with host refugee partners. Together, #MeWeSyria and the host NGOs select refugee teams of replicators (refugee teachers, youth volunteers, parents) who will localize the program for Syrian teens in their communities multiple times over the course of a year.

Refugee replication teams will launch their own #MeWeSyria clubs that benefit Syrian teens who will develop ICT literacy skills, emotional intelligence, and counter narratives of extremism and violence that currently dominate society and public discourse around Syrian youth.

Each #MeWeSyria club that is replicated will produce a minimum of 2 youth story content pieces (videos, blogs, audio interview, photo essays) that will be used for digital campaigns for civic engagement, CVE, and countering xenophobia, and they will be presented at 3 offline community engagements in the host country and, when possible, at international forums. Replication teams are equipped with a detailed facilitator's manual, a local regional coordinator to provide technical support and execute evaluation, and equipment (laptops and cameras) to execute the modules of the program. Each Me/We club captures data from beneficiaries that help track SEL development. 

Refugee-led #MeWeSyria pilots are currently operating in Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan. 

What are the key outcomes and impact of your solution?

Program Goals: 

(1)To counter violent extremism and the disenfranchisement felt among young Syrian refugees in Turkey and Syria by cultivating  peer to peer  spaces for healing, non violent forms of communication, empathy, creative collaboration, and leadership.

(2) To marginalize pervasive extremist and sectarian narratives online, offline and in the media that threaten cultural dialogue and peace by equipping Syrian refugee teens, parents, and youth organizations to launch hubs of storytelling for social impact, peace-building and social inclusion. Part of this includes amplifying Syrian refugee youth voices in media platforms in Turkey, Syria, Europe and the United States.

(3) To engage youth, teachers, and staff of refugee NGOs in unlocking and discovering skills, passions and purpose tied to social integration, community building and active citizenship (communications, collaboration, creative problem solving). Syrian youth’s innovations, energy and capacities for leadership and teamwork will be important ingredients for rebuilding peace and development in Syria.  


Indicator (A):

The number of host NGO partners in EU, US, and MENA.

Indicator (B):

The number of ToTs for launching replication teams + The number  of replication participants per country

Indicator (C):

The number of replication teams activated, 2 persons per team )

Indicator (D):

The number of youth reached in 1 year of program, through aproxx. 20-30 replication teams, each club engages 10 youth (minimum)

Indicator (E):

Each #MeWeSyria youth club will produce and release approximately 2 communications pieces (videos, photo essays, blogs, audio content), between 100-120 content types in total 

Indicator (F)

The total number of #MeWeSyria clubs replicated to Syrian teens. Each team will replicate 3 clubs, minimum.

Indicator (G):

The number of community events engaging local students, media, and organizations in Turkey

Indicator (H):

The number of international events organized to support cultural dialogue and support Syrian counter narrative to extremism and violence.  

Indicator (I): 

The number of facilitators’ manuals and digital copy --both in English and Arabic--of all modules/ exercises 

Indicator (J): 

The number of updated assessment tools for measuring pre and post behavioral changes and skills development 

Indicator (K): 

The number of report analysis of all data from the SEL and skills development assessment tool developed for M+E

What actions do you propose to realize your stated goals?

The Me/We program supports CVE by engaging Syrian refugee teenagers on interactive exercises for reclaiming ownership of their lives and teaching them how to master non-violent communication (NVC) through effective communications and narrative therapy. The program uses the process of storytelling and communications as a tool for developing peer to peer empathy, leadership, teamwork, and creative problem solving among young people in difficult circumstances, and who may be at risk of extremism and isolation.

Our experiential exercises leverage the arts,  ICT literacy,  and narrative development to promote self-expression and self-awareness as a starting point for catalyzing change in others and in the community. In other words, Ø§Ù?تعبÙ?ر Ù?Ù?تغÙ?Ù?ر (Expressing yourself for making change). Starting with the “me” and moving to the “we,” the curriculum challenges young people to discover, reclaim, and unleash the power of narrative for positive development and social change, while also developing practical skills for the digital media age.

The program follows a model of synced personal and workforce skills development. Each of the practical exercises in storytelling, narrative, and communications reinforce the personal development goals intended with each part of the program. Overall, the program follows the following arc, with each stage harnessing the power of creativity:

-       knowing yourself

-       knowing and empathizing with others

-       collective problem solving

While grounded in a social entrepreneurship framework, the Me/We curriculum for refugee youth intentionally integrates therapeutic frameworks, borrowing from narrative therapy and logo therapy, to focus more specifically on self-awareness, trauma recovery, and restoration of control and agency in a context of perceived powerlessness. Again, Me/We Syria is not a media project, but instead uses media and storytelling skills as a means of cultivating a social entrepreneurial outlook and investing in resilience assets to help counter violent extremism, and equipping young refugees with tools and values for expressing a counter narrative to extremism. The #MeWeSyria program can be applied to all country contexts--not only for Syria or MENA regions, and can be utilized as a professional development tool for teachers, parents and staff of youth NGOs. 

#MeWeSyria is founded on the belief that creative social and emotional learning engagements, combined with psychosocial support exercises are necessary for effective CVE youth interventions. Key to the process is co-creation with refugee replicators to ensure ownership and secure sustainability.

We ensure sustainability by giving agency to local refugee teams, and maintaining a flexible program founded upon co-design with local replication partners. For more than 3 years, #MeWeSyria hubs are being led by Syrian refugees in Jordan and Turkey. #MeWeSyria will build further upon its existing local clubs and its network of refugee replicators in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. 

For exmaple, DARB-Syr have already been trained on the program and are just beginning local replication to 360 Syrian teens from now through April. The #MeWeSyria partnership with DARB consists of a Syrian regional coordinator, 2 expert facilitators, and an M+E manager. Each #MeWeSyria replication team, (there are currently 9 teams) is led by 2 Syrian refugees, who are  trainers, facilitators and teachers.

Activities Phase 1: Refining and updating of tools and methodology

Update and refine the existing program to account for the latest techniques and technology supporting CVE, combined with techniques for teaching youth leadership, communication skills, neuroscience, and trauma therapy techniques. Output: Updated facilitator's manual and tools for replication, in Arabic

Activities Phase 2: Trust and coalition building 

#MeWeSyria engages with local refugee partners in a phase of co-creation and co-design so that local refugee leaders/host NGOs feel a sense of ownership in the program. Co-design takes place before the actual training of trainers sessions. Outputs: Coalition of local NGOs co-designing the program and recruiting replicators | Selection of qualified replicators of the program

Part of this phase involves the search and selection of local replication partners based on the following criteria.

Activities Phase 3: ToT and Activation of refugee-led teams

In our interactive training of trainers of sessions (ToTs), selected replicators (who are chosen by the local partners and community organizations) will experience the entire program and work together for local action plans for executing the program for Syrian teens in their communities. The first training will be for 4 days, and will launch the first replication teams with local replication strategies. Through the regional coordinator, housed within the main NGO partner, DARB Syr, local replication teams will have 8 months to replicate 3 #MeWeSyria clubs each--60 clubs, totaling of 600 youth with 20 teams. Youth Venture Inc. will work with the regional coordinator of Darb Syr to provide preparation and execution support to each local team. The provided funds will be used to support program design; facilitation; travel; equipping each replication team with basic equipment; facilitators’ manuals; and stipends for local facilitators (food, transportation and stationary).

Outputs: launch of 20-30 trained and qualified #MeWeSyria teams (40+ replicators), each equipped with program support materials, local action plans/schedules and 1 M+E template

Activities Phase 4: Unleashing narrative power

After replication each #MeWeSyria club will release a minimum of 2 youth content pieces that put action and illustration to ideas for community building, personal passions,  and that tackle youth issues, such as barriers to social integration or personal growth. Each #MeWeSyria youth club will produce and release 2 communications pieces (videos, blogs, audio content) All participants will receive certificates of recognition of their ICT literacy and of their successful completion of Storytelling for Changemakers program. Outputs: Replication teams will execute the program for 600 youth, launching 60 #MeWeSyria clubs that will elevate social and emotional intelligence and ICT skills, and yield a minimum of 2 youth story pieces per hub---totaling approximately 100 content pieces (videos, blogs, audio, photo essays, illustrations with captions, etc) in a year.

Activities Phase 5: Team of teams knowledge sharing + network

After 6 months of sustainable replication, there will be follow up two-day networking session for sharing lessons learned and for providing follow-up support to replication teams. Replication teams and Youth Venture will then organize a minimum of 2 community events where refugee voices will be put on display in open community spaces so that Turkish, Syrian and refugee communities can engage with one another and counter narratives of divisiveness, fear, and violence. Outputs: 2 local community events

Activities Phase 6: Penetrating public discourse

Leading youth videos and project ideas born from the #MeWeSyria clubs will be shown internationally with EU and US media and NGO partners, and considered for additional funding support from Youth Venture Inc. #MeWeSyria will leverage its existing content partnerships with UNHCR Innovation, UNAOC Plural+ Youth film Festivals, Huffington Post, German ARD TV, Al Jazeera, Fictionless, The Atlantic, and Upworthy. Outputs: 1 international community event, and exposure of youth refugee content on global media platforms

Activities Phase 7

After 8 months, Youth Venture Inc. will work with a consultant and the Darb Syr regional program coordinator to compile and analyze the data gathered from the monitoring reports of replication teams, and the evaluation assessments sent in by replication teams which will measure before/after attitudinal changes from the beneficiaries within the program. 

Outputs: Report analyzing #MeWeSyria assessment data of Syrian youth, and tracking trends in the behavioral and skills development of Syrian teen beneficiries. 

Who will take these actions?

Local NGO partners

Role: Regional coordination | Program localization | Selection of replication teams | Monitoring and Evaluation execution

Examples: Darb Syr | Questscope

Program Partnerships

Role: Gather knowledge and best practices from key program partners for SEL, CVE, trauma therapy, Neuroscience, Analysis of M+E data, Media platforms 

Examples: Between Borders | UNHCR Innovation | United Nations Alliance of Civilizations | Beyond Conflict | Al Jazeera | The Atlantic | NY Times | German ARD TV | MBC

Governments and International Orgs

Role: Funding, global reach, access to refugee camps, and technical support 

Examples: British Council | US State Department | UNHCR Innovation

Target geography

MENA: Jordan, Turkey,Lebanon 

Europe: Germany, France, Greece

Africa: Morocco 

North Amer: Canada, USA

Lat Amer: Brazil

What do you expect are the costs associated with piloting and implementing the solution, and what is your business model?

The solution would be developed as a hybrid within an existing NGO, Ashoka's Youth Venture, a globally renowned 51 (c)3, and pipeline partners such as the British Council, UNHCR Innovation, or Mercy Corps.  

6-12 months:

We are currently in a small-scale pilot phase with 3 NGOs in 3 countries. Currently our small-scale pilots are operating with a budget of approximately 103,000 USD. 

For this upgraded pilot phase of 1 year, the budget will be approximately 120,000 USD.

2-5 years budget approximations:

152,400 USD for expanded pilot in Turkey 

200,000 for Lebanon expanded pilot in Lebanon 

100,00 for an expanded pilot in Jordan

Europe and North America and Latin America (TBD)

Outline of costs (flexible and negotiable | Will change depending country context):


8,000.00 | Travel 

10,000.00 | Equipment

20,000.00 | Training of trianers (x2 in 3+m countries)

50,000.00 | Me/We local implementation and clubs

10,000.00 | Hotels, food, local transport

Total : $98,000.00


8000 | Youth Venture | Overhead administrative costs for Global Shared Services  

60,200 |Youth Venture | Program design and facilitation: manager, ( 700/day rate x 77+ days of work: 53,900.00USD)+ 1 staff (6.300.00 x 1 staff at 300/day X 21 days) for M+E support

7,000 |Youth Venture | Program integration + platform visibility + external M+E support analysis

Total personnel





Me/We is already involved in small scale pilots in 3 countries with 3 local NGOs in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. For an upgraded pilot (6-12) month, we would leverage our existing refugee networks and Me/We clubs to scale up reach and impact. The most crucial component of a scaled up pilot involves expanded our trust with refugee communities who will have ownership and be in charge of localization and the replication of our solution. Our methodolgy relies heavily on a trianing of trianers model that also acts as an interactive forum for co-design with refugee replication teams. The first 6 months would focus on identifying and challenges for existing refugee teams in Me/We, and mobilizing technical support and upgrading our program to fill in any gaps. The remaining time and resources would be heavily focused on design, refinement and execution of a more more robust evaluation plan that can track and prove that the Me/We methodology has significant impact on beneficiaries' social and emotional development. 

For a 2-5 year plan, we would need to secure more diverse funding pipelines, and build Me/We as a mainstream and integrated program within the work of wholesale partners such as State Department, UNHCR, Mercy Corps, or British Council. This 2-5 year plan would be fueled by refined leanings and tactics from the pilot phase, and involve a robust and upgraded M+E strategy. 

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Solution Summary
Me/We: Storytelling innovation for healing, SEL, and creative enterprise
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By:  #MeWeSyria
Challenge: Learn: Refugee Education
How can we improve learning outcomes for refugee and displaced young people under 24?