College Mentors

College journalism students: Now’s the time to get involved. We need your help engaging K-12 students in your community to take the challenge.

By visiting schools or community organizations and showing students how to use their cameras and smartphones to tell video stories, you’ll be encouraging students to participate in the democratic process through hands-on journalism. And that’s a big deal.

To do what we’re asking, you’ll need the following:
1. Enthusiasm about making a difference
2. A group of friends or peers who are willing to help you
3. Support from your j-school (to borrow cameras and other equipment)
4. Proficiency in presenting, mentoring, and shooting and editing video

Step One: Recruit a team of college classmates to support you with this initiative.

Step Two: Contact a teacher, principal, or leader of an after-school program in your community and introduce them to Engage2012 and its mission. Secure their support and verbal consent to visit their students to talk about the challenge.

Here’s what to say:

“We are a team of college journalism students who are committed to mentoring and engaging youth in democracy through a national video challenge for K-12 students called Engage 2012. The competition is backed by YouTube, Adobe, the Newseum, and several other high-profile organizations. If possible, we’d like to schedule a two-hour workshop that will provide your students with an opportunity to create videos about issues related to the election. We’ll bring the gear and show them how to do it. Plus, the students have an opportunity to earn prizes.

Given the timeliness of the election, this is a perfect opportunity to enhance instruction about civic engagement in an active way. We simply need a consent form from the parents of participating students, which I will email to you momentarily if you’re interested. As far as scheduling the workshop, how does ____ look on your calendar as a date for us to visit?”

Finally, inquire whether the school or organization has video cameras and if so, how many. Also ask if your presentation can be scheduled to occur in a computer-equipped classroom.

Step Three: Download this Parental Release & Consent Form and email it to the person you spoke with along with a note of thanks that confirms the exact date and time of your appointment.

Step Four: Reserve and arrange to borrow camera gear from your college or an alternate source.

Step Five: Reconfirm your appointment the day before.

Step Six: Assemble your team of peers. Gather video gear. Confirm that the gear works and that batteries are charged.

Step Seven: Be sure to print out and take plenty of the General Release Forms with you to your appointment. These must be signed by interview subjects (unless the interview subject is a fell0w student with an already-signed Parental Consent Form).

Step Eight: Arrive on time to your scheduled appointment and give an overview of the session to the class. Collect the signed Parental Consent forms from participating students.

Start your presentation by explaining Engage 2012’s mission. Show this short video:

Next, engage students in a conversation about social issues relevant to their futures. Show them how to operate the cameras you have brought with you. Mentor them on how to frame shots, capture good audio, and ask others, “If you could speak with the President, what would you say?”

Step Nine: Provide time for the students to create their videos.

You have a couple of options for conducting this portion of the workshop:

A. For elementary school students, you can confine production to their campus. Students can interview one another, teachers, their principal, and school staffers.

B. For middle and high school students, you can ask permission ahead of time if you can take them out into the community (such as a to a park or a popular outdoor meeting place) so they can interview people they meet on the street.

Step Ten: After the students have finished making their videos, return back to the classroom and support them with minimal editing (as needed). When their videos are finished, help them upload the entries to YouTube.

Step Eleven: Write down the URL of each video, along with the  name of the students who worked on the video and other identifying information.

Step Twelve: For each video, scan the necessary signed documents and upload them, along with all pertinent information, to our  online submission form.

Whew! You did it! Now that you’ve mentored one group of students, you can continue to hold workshops with as many classes or community organizations as you feel comfortable with.

Got questions? Email us at