It is with sadness but enduring pride that we write today to let you know that we recently suspended operations at The LAMP and are actively working to transition our work and legacy to other organizations and partnerships. This was not an easy decision. Over the last few months we have faced a number of financial challenges we have unfortunately not been able to overcome. Running a non-profit in an ever changing environment is challenging, and we are proud of the work we did over these last twelve years. We beat the odds to survive for over a decade and made an indelible mark on media literacy in New York City and beyond.
When we began in 2007, our small but inspired team had a mission to give students the tools needed to analyze media with a critical eye. The landscape of media and digital literacy was in flux and full of possibility. The social media titans were either young start-ups or yet to exist, educators were starting to explore what these new tools meant for learning and most youth, really most people, did not own a smartphone. We knew that we as an organization had something to contribute and it was advancing basic media literacy. Critically understanding how and why media is created is a crucial skill in today’s world. We dedicated ourselves to that mission. Because of our supporters, our 80+ partners, and our 3000+ students, we advanced that mission.
Here are just a few highlights from our pursuit of media literacy for youth and the educators that serve them:
Our first media literacy program started running out of the Prospect Park YMCA in Brooklyn, NY (funded by then-NYC Councilmember Bill de Blasio).
In 2009, we were able to launch our first summer programs (a/k/a LAMPcamp), where students participated in focused programs that strengthened their voice by creating their own media.
Building on our vision of teaching students to dissect the digital world around them, we used a Knight Foundation Prototype Fund award in 2013 to build MediaBreaker — a tool that allows students to remix media by incorporating their own commentary into videos that perpetuate bias, misinformation and tropes. MediaBreaker would become the foundation of our programming.
We also understood some of these issues were political. The LAMP took on legislation, resulting in the New York City Department of Education announcing they were lifting the ban on cell phones in classrooms. This is central to our beliefs: we cannot censor technology if we want to responsibly consume and create media.
The intersection of education, digital learning, and media activism has always inspired us. From our Break the Election campaign in 2016 to our current 22×20 campaign, our priority has always been to help young people take back the mic and make their voices heard. They are a generation with inspired ideas about how the world should operate — we need to listen, and they need to know how to make their voices central in our democracy.
Stopping this work as an organization is a disappointment to us all, but it isn’t over either. Many of our alumni, ex-staff, partners and educators continue to do this important work throughout the country. Our partner CIRCLE is continuing the 22×20 campaign and is committed to growing the work in the vision we built with them. We are also working with Brooklyn College, the DOE and some of our facilitators to see how our lessons, methodology and commitment to media literacy for young people in NYC can continue. Much of this is still in discussion and we are committed to the legacy of the work surviving and thriving.
We have been inspired by each and every young person who has shared their beliefs and opinions with us. We’d like to thank all our past and current Executive, Associate and Advisory board members, all of our staff and our facilitators who made The LAMP flourish for 12 years and our grantors, educational and city partners. We are filled with so much hope for the future because of you all. While The LAMP’s journey ends for now, our mission continues.
If you have questions please email Chris Lawrence, LAMP Board Chair at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE LAMP FAQS
Why is The LAMP closing?
This was not an easy decision. The LAMP and board worked hard to secure the resources to continue, but we have faced a number of financial challenges we have been unable to overcome including changes in the youth media ecosystem, changes in focus in the philanthropic sector and a system that still makes it hard for non-profits to thrive.
We hit a point where the continued financial sustainability of The LAMP was no longer viable and continuing to struggle would have put us in greater financial risk.
What has happened to the staff & leadership?
The core staff have moved on to new roles at other organizations or are actively pursuing other opportunities. We’d like to thank them all for their hard work and commitment to The LAMP’s mission.
What does this mean for 22×20?
Our partner, CIRCLE, will continue to manage 22×20. We would encourage you to offer them your full support. More info here.
What about MediaBreaker?
MediaBreaker is a tool that allows students to remix media by incorporating their own commentary into videos that perpetuate bias, misinformation and tropes. MediaBreaker has become the foundation for our present day programming. We are working to ensure our investment in this technology and tool lives on.
What about existing commitments?
All people who we had programs or commitments to moving forward have been notified and funds returned.
How do I learn more about The LAMP’s future plans?
You can watch this space or our Facebook page. We will post any and all updates there.
Who can I contact?
The LAMP Board chair, Chris Lawrence email@example.com.