Tag Archives: empowerment

Born This Way Foundation: guided by research

Yesterday, Cynthia Germanotta and her daughter Lady Gaga launched their new initiative to empower youth: the Born This Way Foundation. The Foundation wants to create a kinder, braver world so that youth can be the change-agents that we all need them to be. For youth to be empowered, the Foundation recognizes that 1) youth need to be safe; 2) youth need to have skills; and 3) youth need to have opportunities.

Lady Gaga and her mother are not going at this alone. They’ve worked closely with Connie Yowell at the MacArthur Foundation to learn how to create a foundation. They’ve tapped the California Endowment, Blue State Digital, and Harvard’s Berkman Center to help them. They’ve pulled in youth, researchers, and practitioners to advise them. They’ve asked the public to engage with them, to help make this a grassroots initiative. They want all who are willing and able to help to join in and contribute. In short, they want to change the rules of philanthropy in order to create a movement.

Alongside John Palfrey, I am proud to be a Research Fellow on this project. For the last few months, John Palfrey and I have helped coordinate researchers and synthesize research in order to help inform the foundation. As part of our efforts to advise the Foundation, John and I created a working paper series where we work with scholars to synthesize research and provide grounded advice. We’ve been putting together all sorts of research material in order to help the Foundation and the public make sense of the amazing work that scholars have been doing for years. The first five documents that we prepared are now publicly available:

All of these documents are currently in draft form because we’d love the public’s feedback. If you have critiques, pleased send them to kbw-feedback@cyber.law.harvard.edu.

We are super psyched to be embarking on this initiative. John and I have spent many years working to empower youth through research and we’re ecstatic to be given an opportunity to take this to the next level!