Why Global Citizens Should Care
Investing in diverse educational systems is critical to close the education gaps that exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations in Australia and for marginalised youth around the globe. Global Citizen campaigns on the United Nations’ Global Goals, including goal 4 for quality education and goal 10 for reduced inequalities. Join the movement and take action on these issues and more here.

In Australia, vast health, education, employment and life-expectancy inequality persists between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the nation’s non-Indigneous populations. 

The complex social challenges of Indigenous inequality, particularly in relation to education, is what spurred the creation of the AIME. The Australian not-for-profit organisation seeks to transform the traditional education system into one that uses imagination and mentoring to create equitable access to opportunities for marginalised youth and, in turn, a fairer world. 

In 2005, AIME began asking university students to be mentors to kids experiencing disadvantage, and, in the 15 years since, over 20,000 Indigenous youth have been mentored as part of school programs, university campus pop ups and individual free tutoring sessions. 

With the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic causing school closures and enforcing social distancing, AIME has had to redirect their programs to be entirely digital during this disrupted period. AIME’s latest initiative, IMAGI-NATION {TV} — is a weekday TV show broadcast live on YouTube. 

The show aims to virtually put a mentor in the home with kids each day and explores themes of imagination, hope and trust and features teachers, philosophers, big-picture thinkers, visual artists and celebrity guests. 

Global Citizen had the opportunity to speak with AIME’s CEO and Founder Jack Manning Bancroft to find out exactly how IMAGI-NATION {TV} and other AIME initiatives are working to help vulnerable individuals find hope amid COVID-19.

What is IMAGI-NATION {TV} and what is the key goal of the program? 

We at AIME have created IMAGI-NATION {TV} to put a mentor in the home every day. It’s a weekday TV show broadcast live on Youtube, it’s for teachers, parents and kids, and it helps kids keep hoping, dreaming, learning, questioning and discovering the world during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. 

When schools and universities began closing as a result of the pandemic, this affected our ability to keep turning up as mentors for the kids we work with. We pivoted our 100-odd global staff into a TV production team in just three days, and we are now delivering a live weekday show for the 8,000 marginalised youngsters we work with around the world and the over 1.5 billion kids affected by school closures globally. 

We’ve delivered over 50 episodes, opened up the stage for over 75 youngsters from marginalised backgrounds to lead the show and featured 150 mentors, including former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Ndileka Mandela, Stan Grant, Daisy Jeffrey, Nancy Conrad, Damon Gameau and many, many more.

Each day, we throw the spotlight on a school, featuring the school’s principal as well as a kid co-host to help shift perceptions on who marginalised kids are and what they have the potential to achieve. The show can be watched live or broadcast as a replay to the entire school. Our goal is to use it to bring change throughout the education system, one school at a time.

Why is it important to AIME to get top-notch mentors into kids’ lives daily during COVID-19 and beyond?

Over 15 years of AIME’s existence, we’ve found that mentoring is the one key lever we can pull system-wide to tackle inequality and help close the education gap for kids that are being left behind by the system.

We know that school doesn’t work for everyone and this leads to educational inequality, and in turn, inequality in the world at large. Mentoring works in more ways than one — it helps unlock the potential of those on the margins to succeed in school and in life, and it gives people who are born into privilege an opportunity to use their power and position for good. Bringing top-notch mentors into kids’ lives helps to unlock their potential, build bridges between these kids and the power-holders of today, change mindsets on both sides, open up opportunities for the kids and help create a fairer world.

Teachers and educators must become mentors to the kids they teach, too. Teachers used to hold the power of information over kids. They now face a very different challenge in the 21st century of kids having access to a world of information in their pockets. Now, they must cross the line and stand alongside the kids, evolving from lecturers into guides, problem-solvers and advisors.

We also believe that one of the missing ingredients in school is imagination. It’s the most critical tool for humanity today; everything in our world depends on it. Add imagination to mentoring and you’ve got a recipe that can positively impact schooling for everyone. By doing so, we can change the system from within, make schools fairer, light the spark of those outside the margins so they can start creating change in their lives and in the world around them and unleash a spirit of imagination system-wide to help solve the biggest challenges of today and tomorrow.

What kind of impact has AIME had since 2005 and what are the key goals of the organisation? 

Our pop-up “imagination factory” experiences on university campuses are a magical world of learning activities and immersive experiences to unlock the internal narrative of marginalised kids, taking them from a world that tells them they can’t to a world that tells them they can. 

Kids who experience the “imagination factory” have gone on to achieve educational parity, rise up as entrepreneurs and take on a whole new mindset that prepares them for success.  

In Australia alone, over 20,000 Indigenous youth have experienced AIME's “imagination factory,” helping solve one of Australia's most complex social challenges — Indigenous inequality. In 2018, attainment and progression rates for these kids had been higher than the national average for five years running. We've also built the largest volunteering movement of university students in Australian history. In 2017, we took the model global — we’re now in Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, the United States and Zimbabwe. What this means is we’ve designed a transferrable solution that can work across cultures and borders, cost-effectively and at scale.

For 2023, one of our key goals is to set the stage for marginalised kids to lead and implement change. We want to achieve educational parity and beyond, unlock mindsets and accelerate change and entrepreneurship. Our other major goal is to open up opportunities for marginalised kids by engaging with power-holders to create sustained, system-wide change. We’re looking at changing the immediate ecosystem for these kids on school campuses, preparing a generation of future leaders among university students who uphold our 22 core values and mobilising governments, commerce and civil society to act.  

How does IMAGI-NATION {TV} and AIME specifically help marginalised children thrive and grow up to lead healthy, happy lives? 

The end game for AIME has always been to transform education from the inside out, through imagination and mentoring in order to create more educational equality, access to opportunities and, in turn, a fairer world. Our modus operandi has been to get into schools and universities and create long-term change from within. 

There are six pillars of change that AIME’s fairer world is built upon — three of them focus on the marginalised youngsters we work with and the other three on the power-holders we engage. 

Could you tell us a little about the “This Hoodie Pays Rent” initiative. How did this come about? 

When we calculated that thousands of people within our immediate network could be struggling to pay their rent, and that the COVID-19 crisis had impacted the earnings of more than 2.65 million people in Australia alone, and over 25 million people globally, we knew we had to do something.

So, we took our most successful funding product, the AIME hoodie (which is the uniform of our mentors and the symbol of the movement) and turned it into a social enterprise. We created a hoodie called "This Hoodie Pays Rent" and we’re committing 50% of all profits to help people pay their rent. 

The other 50% go toward putting mentors in kids’ lives.

In the first 3 weeks since launch, we raised over $21,000 AUD and had over 100 people register their interest to get rental support. We’ve also done the first pay-run. 

If people are struggling to pay their rent, they can sign up to be a “Hoodie Connector” here. Everyone else can buy one of these hoodies to help others in need here: https://shop.aimementoring.com/products/thpr. To watch all the IMAGI-NATION {TV} episodes, subscribe to our Youtube channel and tune in at 12 p.m. AEST Monday through Friday to catch the episodes live and chat with our guests.


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