Funded Projects

The Beacon settlement agreement directed the Foundation to invest in educating Internet users on how to protect themselves and their information from online threats. The Foundation believes that focusing on young people will yield long-term benefits. In particular, the Foundation sees a need to evaluate existing online privacy education programs to determine what messages and strategies are most effective at giving youth the skills they need to be safe, productive digital citizens for their entire lives. We funded six projects that implement and evaluate privacy education programs for youth.

All project summaries were written by grantees.

Grantee: DPR Educational Services
Project: Digital Ambassadors

The Digital Ambassadors after School Program will serve 105 youth in schools within the City of Detroit. This program lasts 13 weeks, 3 days per week for 2.5 hours each day. Our goal is to increase digital literacy as students’ lives become more engrained in social media. Each student will become a digital ambassador after completion of the program. They will understand their role as responsible digital citizens and how to peer mentor other students. The program will use the Digital Life 101 curriculum developed by Common Sense Education, combined with project-based activities using digital media creation tools as the learning model. The four participating schools (Earhart, Clark, Coleman A. Young and Cartstens) all have at least 95% of their student population receiving free and reduced lunch. The population of students consists of over 97% African American and Hispanic American.

Grantee: Fordham University, Center on Law and Information Policy
Project: Volunteer Privacy Educators Program

The Fordham Center on Law and Information Policy (CLIP) Volunteer Privacy Educators’ program is an innovative public service project that educates middle school students about their online privacy. The centerpiece of the program is a regularly updated curriculum designed for volunteer privacy educators to stimulate peer discussions among middle school students. Topics include managing social network accounts, passwords, and mobile privacy settings. The program is specifically tailored to provide young adolescents with the skills and practical tips they need to begin navigating their privacy choices. The project recruits and trains volunteers to serve as the privacy educators and organizes other law schools across the country to recruit and train volunteers. Each participating organization partners with local middle schools where the trained privacy educators volunteer to teach the curriculum. As an integral part of the project, Fordham CLIP maintains a website to make the curriculum and teaching materials available on an open source basis and to enable crowd-sourced updating of the curriculum.

Grantee: Future of Privacy Forum Education & Innovation Foundation
Project: Student Privacy Rights and Protections: An Online Education and Information Resource for Students and Parents

Data-driven innovations and the use of new technologies are bringing advances in teaching and learning, but are also generating concerns about how student data is collected and used. State and federal laws give students and parents a range of rights to access and correct data, but some of the collected data falls outside of the covered legal scope — specifically, data that is not technically part of the educational record. The FPF Education and Innovation Foundation will develop and expand an online education and information resource that outlines the legal rights to student-generated data, discloses opportunities to correct inaccurate data, and provides practical guidance for students and parents to increase privacy controls and protections. The resource guides and training tools produced by the project will give parents a better understanding of how their child’s data is being collected, used, and shared in the school environment, and students a better understanding of their rights and responsibilities when engaging online. By bringing transparency to the collection and use of student data and building understanding and skills needed for better user control and protections, the project will go a long way to creating a trusted learning environment for youth.

Grantee: Harris County (Texas) Department of Education
Project: Cirrus Learn Online – Understanding Digital Safety (CLOUDS)

For the past several years, the Cirrus Learn Online – Understanding Digital Safety (CLOUDS) program, a division of the Harris County Department of Education’s Technology Services, has worked closely with K-12 districts in the state of Texas to help educate students and teachers on digital safety, citizenship, and privacy in online learning spaces. Previously, the CLOUDS program has primarily been reactionary, addressing problems in school districts only after they arise. With funding from the Digital Trust Foundation, the CLOUDS team will work on a proactive skill academy built upon positive online citizenship behaviors. This academy will serve to forestall incidents related to safety and privacy by educating teachers and students on safe and positive online interactions, while also equipping teachers with interventions that deter bad online behaviors before they manifest negative outcomes.

As part of this new preventative program, the CLOUD team will collaborate with Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District (CFISD), a large suburban district located in northwest Houston, to teach safe online learning skills to two district-level staff, 18 middle school teachers and up to 3,000 math students (grades 7th and 8th). These safe online learning skills are consistent with well-researched best practices and identified as critical needs based on a survey of incidents that have occurred in the district over the previous year. CFISD’s Math Department created a rigorous online remediation program, specifically targeting middle school students who have had difficulty on a state standardized exam, which helps students master math skills successfully, while participating in an online learning program. Given that these students engage regularly online, the CLOUDS team determined providing digital lessons focused on safety, privacy and citizenship to these students is the opportune time and environment for skill acquisition, application, and practice. Using a train-the-teacher model, teachers should be well equipped to pass effective strategies for online safety, privacy, and digital citizenship to future classes and to other classroom teachers. Additionally, by training teachers to be effective stewards and facilitators of student safety and citizenship, the hope is that students will develop healthy online habits early in their educational environment that extend well beyond their school walls.

Grantee: Internet Keep Safe Coalition
Project: Generation Safe

iKeepSafe’s Generation Safe (TM) resources, a cloud based suite of tools, helps the whole school community address growing concerns among families, school administrators, educators, privacy advocates, and industry about whether schools are equipped to adequately protect student data and help increase the privacy resilience of children and teens. Generation Safe allows the school community to navigate the digital environment by providing a comprehensive set of resources for all stakeholders, including professional development (online learning modules and videos) and incident management (IRT — incident response tool app). The ultimate goal of Generation Safe is to replace privacy fears with knowledge and confidence, allowing school communities to embrace the innovation and opportunities presented by today’s technology while understanding the privacy implications.

Grantee: Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center (Bridgewater State University)
Project: Updating Research-Based Youth-Centered Curricula

The Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center (MARC) at Bridgewater State University offers positive, proactive projects to engage youth in using technology in a responsible and knowledgeable way. MARC offers research-based, age-appropriate curricula addressing bullying, cyberbullying and social difficulties between children, both online and offline. These curricula were originally written and tested in 2009 and 2011. This project involves updating two of the curricula that are focused on minimizing destructive online behaviors and increasing education and awareness among youth about positive ways to use digital technology. The updates will incorporate new research findings on cognitive and perceptual factors that affect how youth in the online setting go about participating in discussions, sharing personal data, expressing creativity, and approaching social responsibility. As with earlier versions, these updated curricula will be evaluated through interim and final evaluations, to ensure efficacy with youth of different ages. MARC will host a Public Service Announcement Contest and a Youth Summit, intended to promote the use of these two curricula; both events will be free and open to all students and schools in Massachusetts. The curricula will be offered online, at no cost, and in several different languages.