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Young Social Innovators (YSI) is a non-profit organisation that empowers young people to use their talents, insights, passion, and creativity to devise innovative solutions to social challenges. For the past 21 years, our fun and engaging programmes have supported students in creating team-based action projects on issues they care about. These projects put innovative ideas into action to bring about positive social change for the benefit of people, communities, and the environment.

Our Vision: Ireland’s young people feel inspired, empowered, and equipped to change the world for good.

Our Mission: To provide social innovation education that empowers young people to take action on social issues.

Changemakers: Social innovation starts with changemakers. Changemakers learn from their experiences and surroundings, seeking growth and positive change. Using their passion, persuasion, and persistence, they discover and implement innovative ideas to improve the welfare and well-being of people, society, and the planet.

"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." – Charles Darwin

Understanding Social Innovation

Social innovation involves creating and developing solutions that improve the well-being of people, society, and the planet. It is innovation that works for the greater good. Social innovations can be small or large, but they must address societal issues effectively.

Examples of Social Innovation:

Becoming a Young Social Innovator

Take action on an issue you care about. As a young social innovator, you’ll be challenged to look at the world around you, identify issues, and create solutions. You’ll gain real experience working in a team and develop skills in leadership, communication, and project management.

“As a young social innovator, you’ll be challenged to look at the world around you and to identify and explore issues affecting you, your friends, your community, and wider society. More than just coming up with a solution, you will be asked to put that idea into action and create change. You will see other perspectives using your own expertise and creativity to design solutions based on real human experience and need. You will gain real experience working in a team and develop skills in leadership, communications, and project planning and management.” – Rachel Collier, Co-founder of Young Social Innovators

A Focus on Social Innovation Democracy

StemWijzer (Netherlands): A Voting Advice Application that helps voters compare political parties and find those that align with their views. It has been used by almost seven million voters in the run-up to the 2017 parliamentary elections.

CitizenLab: Co-creating cities with citizens (Belgium): A platform for citizens to co-create their cities, engaging them in local decision-making. The CitizenLab app. CitizenLab is profiled more extensively in the final DSI4EU report, What next for digital social innovation? Realising the potential of people and technology to tackle social challenges

Rahvakogu/Rahvaalgatus (Estonia): An online platform for citizens to put forward, debate, and vote on proposals, some of which are submitted to Parliament. Rahvaalgatus is profiled more extensively on the DSI4EU website.

Decide Madrid (Spain): A citizen participation platform allowing residents to propose laws, debate topics, and vote on participatory budgeting.

Carticipe (France): A map-based platform for citizens to propose and discuss ideas for town planning and urban life.


YOUTH FOR CHANGE shows how young people can use stories as a strategic social innovation tool. Stories are powerful cognitive tools that can persuade, educate, inform, and connect.

  1. Transport Messages or Vision: Use stories to illustrate your social innovation idea, generating a common understanding and compelling others to act.
  2. Diffuse or Pitch Ideas: Develop your ideas into stories that emotionally connect with your audience, making your idea memorable and resonant.
  3. Road Map for Behaviour Change: Use stories to build support for innovation and change behaviours at a cultural level, making the path to innovation accessible.
  4. Build Knowledge and Educate: Use storytelling to communicate the innovation process, sharing experiences and lessons learned.

Source: Young Social Innovators

Author - Laura Magan, Momentum Educate & Innovate

Why Storytelling Matters for Social Innovation

Storytelling is not just a nice-to-have skill for social innovators, it is a must-have. Stories can help you communicate your vision, mission, and impact, as well as connect with your stakeholders on an emotional level. Stories can also help you attract attention, build trust, and mobilize action. According to the Stanford Social Innovation Review, stories are "the most effective way to package and share insights about social change."

How To Craft a Compelling Story For Social Innovation

To craft a compelling story for social innovation, you need to consider four elements: the audience, the message, the structure, and the delivery. The audience is the people you want to reach and influence with your story. You need to understand their needs, interests, and motivations, and tailor your story accordingly. The message is the core idea or takeaway you want to convey with your story. You need to make it clear, relevant, and memorable. The structure is the way you organize your story, using a beginning, a middle, and an end. You need to create a hook, a challenge, and a resolution, and use suspense, surprise, and contrast to keep your audience engaged. The delivery is the way you present your story, using words, images, sounds, and gestures. You need to use a conversational tone, a personal voice, and a vivid language, and avoid jargon, clichés, and abstractions.

Examples Of Storytelling for Social Innovation

Learning from and emulating examples of storytelling for social innovation can be beneficial. Kiva, a microfinance platform, uses stories to humanize its impact and foster empathy. Each borrower has a profile with a photo, a name, a location, and their story. Acumen, another social venture fund that invests in entrepreneurs tackling poverty, showcases their portfolio and values through video stories of the entrepreneurs. Girl Effect is a non-profit that empowers girls in developing countries; they create fictional characters who represent the aspirations and challenges of real girls, then produce media products such as radio shows, magazines, and music videos that feature these characters and their stories.

Tips For Storytelling for Social Innovation

To hone your storytelling skills for social innovation, you should begin by articulating why you do what you do and what difference you want to make. Model your story after the classic narrative arc of a hero who faces a problem and achieves transformation. Share your own experiences, emotions, and values, and be specific when using concrete details, examples, and data. Keep your story concise and creative by experimenting with different formats, channels, and media.

Storytelling for social innovation is not just an art, it is also a science. You need to measure the impact of your stories on your audiences and your goals. To do that, you need to define your objectives, indicators, and methods. Your objectives are the outcomes you want to achieve with your stories, such as raising awareness, changing attitudes, or generating action. Your indicators are the measures you use to track your progress, such as views, likes, shares, comments, feedback, or donations. Your methods are the tools you use to collect and analyze your data, such as surveys, interviews, focus groups, or analytics. By measuring the impact of your stories, you can learn what works and what doesn't, and improve your storytelling strategy accordingly.

The 7 Elements of Digital Storytelling

The Center for Digital Storytelling (CDS) in Berkeley, California is known for developing and disseminating the Seven Elements of Digital Storytelling, which are often cited as a useful starting point as you begin working with digital stories.

  1. Point of View
    What is the main point of the story and what is the perspective of the author?
  2. A Dramatic Question
    A key question that keeps the viewer's attention and will be answered by the end of the story.
  3. Emotional Content
    Serious issues that come alive in a personal and powerful way and connects the audience to the story.
  4. The Gift of Your Voice
    A way to personalize the story to help the audience understand the context.
  5. The Power of the Soundtrack
    Music or other sounds that support and embellish the story.
  6. Economy
    Using just enough content to tell the story without overloading the viewer.
  7. Pacing
    The rhythm of the story and how slowly or quickly it progresses.

The specific requirements of an educational digital story differ slightly from the original Seven Elements for Digital Stories. Working with the Seven Elements that CDS developed, we added a few new items to make them more applicable to the types of digital stories created by students. The modified elements are shown below.

1. The Overall Purpose of the Story
2. The Narrator’s Point of View
3. A Dramatic Question or Questions
4. The Choice of Content
5. Clarity of Voice
6. Pacing of the Narrative
7. Use of a Meaningful Audio Soundtrack
8. Quality of the Images, Video & other Multimedia Elements
9. Economy of the Story Detail
10. Good Grammar and Language Usage

Watch the video:  7 Elements of Digital Storytelling in 4 Minutes

Where YOUTH FOR CHANGE comes in!

The project addresses the needs of young people and the issues they face regarding digital skills attainment, access to quality non-formal learning opportunities, active citizenship and employability. YOUTH FOR CHANGE uses the term “youth leaders” to encompass youth workers, educators, organizations and institutions who care about the quality of their work with and for young people. The project partners are all engaged in informal and non-formal youth work and reflect the broad range and scope of youth sector supports. Technology was a saving grace for young people during the COVID19 lockdowns in Europe offering them an opportunity to escape, learn, socialise and connect.

1 Why storytelling matters for social innovation

2 How to craft a compelling story for social innovation

3 Examples of storytelling for social innovation

4 Tips for storytelling for social innovation

5 How to measure the impact of storytelling for social innovation

6 Here’s what else to consider



Author - Laura Magan, Momentum Educate & Innovate

Without question, digital technology has accelerated the tempo of the world’s activity and the pervasiveness of human connections. Many of us are far more connected to stories and information than we have ever been, yet the noise and ubiquity of this digital world makes it harder to surface and share personal stories of change and impact.

Few would deny that storytelling is a powerful tool for inspiring action and change and influencing thought leaders and decision makers. In the digital era, the shape and delivery of stories has shifted dramatically. Long-form narrative and conventional journalism now share the stage with messages of 140 characters or fewer and images that disappear seconds after they are opened. While there have never been more ways to reach audiences, it has also never been more difficult to really reach them.

YOUTH FOR CHANGE recognizes a big opportunity in this intersection of youth, story and technology, and has launched a project to consider the role that digital technology can play in elevating the practice of storytelling as a means to improve the well-being of the poor and vulnerable around the world. We drew the insights and ideas in this report from interviews and roundtable discussions with youth already delving into the power of social innovation and digital technology.  

The Goodwall Founders

Omar Bawa and Taha Bawa, aged 25 and 27 respectively, belong to Switzerland and have cofounded the social media platform, Goodwall. It resembles to the Linked-In except for the fact that Goodwall is solely to facilitate the students connect with their peers, avail scholarship opportunities, apply to universities and obtain similar benefits.

Headstart AI

The two cofounders of the Headstart AI, aged 29 and 23, have revolutionized the recruitment process.

They give order and collect far more information of candidates than contained in a CV and utilize the machine-learning to match the most suitable and favorable jobs for participants. It also fits the recruitment considering technical and cultural formalities.

Anti-Bullying Ambassadors

Alex Holmes, age 29, was a victim of bullying in his student life. Today, he is the founder of Anti-Bullying Ambassadors, a foundation that aims at training people psychologically and physically who get directed to bullying. Holmes has successfully educated over 28,000 young victims and his organization has spread from UK to Greece, Italy and more. His foundation has also been a part of the Diana Award.

The Girls’ Network

Aged 28, Becca Dean is another social entrepreneur who addressed the disguised issue of the impact of a lack of female role model on young generation. Having known the affects it can have, Dean founded The Girls’ Network that connects young girls to individual female mentors.

She has matched around 1300 of such young females and is now partnered with Barclays, BNY Mellon and PwC as well.

Zafer Elçik, 23, Turkey

Zafer Elcik © Illustrations: Bauer & Hofmann

When Zafer noticed the only thing that captured his autistic brother’s attention for any time was his smartphone, he built a gaming app, hoping to enhance his brother’s cognitive skills. His project is now Otsimo, a free, Turkey-based educational gaming app, helping more than 30,000 children with learning disorders and special needs to improve cognitive learning

Where did you find the courage to start a business at the young age of 21?

When I first started out, I didn’t do it for the sake of creating a business, I felt a strong desire to help my brother. Only then did I realise my idea had great potential to help others – Otsimo grew organically into a business. Our mission now is to democratise special education with the help of technology.

Any useful advice for someone who’d like to build a social enterprise?

Setting up a project with social impact is definitely not easy – actually, I think it is twice as hard as building a ‘normal’ business or an NGO. You are creating something that needs to have an effect on lots of lives and be accessible, plus you have to find a viable business model for it. My advice is to focus on the impact first but to not lose sight of the business model.

Zafer Elcik's Tablet © Illustrations: Bauer & Hofmann

How has Otsimo changed you on a personal level?

It has changed me a lot. I’ve become more grounded and more empathetic towards others – not only towards autistic children or those with special needs, but I’ve become more sensitive to everyone. I think everything should start with empathy -


Where YOUTH FOR CHANGE comes in!

Our ambitious project seeks to address digital transformation through development of digital readiness, resilience and capacity, promote active citizenship/young people’s sense of initiative and strengthen the employability of young people. Our main objective is to upskill project partners/associated partners/youth leaders empowering them with new knowledge and practical training resources to help young people put technology and digital stories to good use. Our goal is to empower young people (15-24 years) to become active, empowered digital citizens capable of advancing strong social change missions online.

YOUTH FOR CHANGE seeks to change the dynamic by engaging young people in the non-formal learning opportunities which build on their existing interest in social media platforms like Snapchat, Tik Tok. Across Europe, youth unemployment and disengagement are on the rise. In 2020 the share of young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs) across Europe returned to the 2017 level (13.7%).

In a short space of time, the global pandemic resulted in the gains from 3 years were wiped out. The situation is worrying for the youth leaders working for and with young people particularly in Lithuania. Last year, the number of young people under the age of 29 registered with the Employment Service increased 2.7 times, and the number of young people aged 16–24 - as much as 3.8 times. In addition, as much as 56% of young jobseekers under the age of 29 did not have professional training. Relative and worse statistics can be seen in partner countries.

In Italy, youth-unemployment rate is at 32.2%. As of July 2021, 2,854 million people under 25 years of age were unemployed across the EU, of which a total of 2,339 million come from inside the eurozone, according to Eurostat.


Author - Laura Magan, Momentum Educate & Innovate

Mission Marketing, How Young People In Ireland and Reaching Hearts and Minds

Irish Young People are using Mission Marketing to Reach the Hearts and Minds of their customers, users and communities. Check out YOUTH FOR CHANGE Resources where you will learn how young people from Ireland and across Europe have used the power of digital storytelling and mission marketing to impact and advance their projects. Learn the skills they used and what they considered when developing some of the most motivating and engaging stories. You will learn the technologies that are available to tell your stories and bring your brand to life.

Story telling is a powerful tool for inspiring action and change and influencing people.

With the acceleration of digital technology and the world moving quicker than ever and people more connected than ever to stories and information. Storytelling marketing is one of the most powerful ways to communicate impactful digital social innovation projects.

Social innovation stories are the stories people crave to hear, the encouraging positivity of change in the right direction, doing ‘social good’ for everyone concerned and having positive impact on the world leading us into the future are the stories people want to hear.

Why is Storytelling Important?

Storytelling Brings Brands and Social Innovation Ideas to Life!

Storytelling is critical especially when you are telling a story about people. Stories are part of who we are. They should describe how your company came about, the reason it exists and where you want to go in the future.

One example of brand storytelling that helps support a company’s product is Warby Parker’s “How Warby Parker Glasses Are Made.” The video follows a pair of glasses from the beginning stages of design to the final stage of production.

Stories Help People Connect with You Emotionally!

Young Social Innovators - Ireland Awards 2022

The Young Social Innovators of the Year Ireland Awards 2022 took place on 12th May. Virgin Media's Zara King along with Dayl Cronin were joined by special guests to celebrate thousands of young people who created social change in their communities in 21/22 and to find out who would be awarded the coveted Young Social Innovators of the Year 2022 award.

The Young Social Innovators of the year Awards challenges students from all over the country to tackle social issues within their own communities, on subjects as diverse as farm safety to mental health. We were joined by three students from three of the winning schools this morning, Eoghan Courtney from Largy College, Clones, Aoife Dardis from St. Joseph's College Lucan and Caitlin Guinan from Tullamore College.

Over 130,000 young people across Ireland have tackled some of the world's largest social issues. Here are just some of their stories.

Where YOUTH FOR CHANGE comes in!

YOUTH FOR CHANGE will upskill youth leaders empowering them with new knowledge and practical training resources to help young people put technology and digital stories to good use. Our goal is to empower young people (15-24 years) to become active, empowered digital citizens capable of advancing strong social change missions online.

While technology is a great enabler, the current over and quite often misuse of technology by young people has been proven to be detrimental to their emotional wellbeing, mental and physical health, and many other areas of life. Despite increasing efforts and many projects to warn young people of the potential damaging effect of technology and social media, we have yet to see the issue systemically improve.

Despite their prolific use of technology and social media, the EU Digital Education Action Plan tells us that in 2019, a fifth of young persons in Europe reported not to have basic digital skills. The Plan highlights digital literacy as an essential for everyday life, but it also reports that more than 40% of young people consider that critical thinking, media and democracy are not ‘taught sufficiently’ in school. It is clear therefore, that more needs to be done in this space and that highlighting the negative effects is not enough.

YOUTH FOR CHANGE seeks to change the dynamic by engaging young people in the non-formal learning opportunities which build on their existing interest in social media platforms like Snapchat, TikTok.

Author - Laura Magan, Momentum Educate & Innovate

Examples of Irish Youth Becoming Active Social Innovators

Young Irish and Social Innovators are already progressing and changing the European landscape by telling their digital stories. They are paving the way by activating their social innovation ideas through digital technologies which are designed to transform the world by directly addressing societal challenges like climate change, inequalities & poverty, labour market & employment issues, gaps in healthcare & education systems, and demographic issues like ageing & migration

Let’s learn about Digital Social Innovation & Digital Story Telling

Digital stories, digital social innovation and digital storytelling are providing youth with powerful opportunities in the realm of ‘doing social, environmental and economical good’ which is changing their communities, regions, and indeed the world!

Social Innovation is about creating ideas for change (Social TrendSpotter 2018) and developing solutions to improve the wellbeing of people and society.

Digital Social Innovation is a smart/technology-driven form of social innovation (Social Innovation 4.0) that uses the power and potential of digital technology to create ideas and develop/implement social solutions for change.

Digital Storytelling combines the art of storytelling with multimedia features such as photography, text, audio, voiceover, hypertext and video. Digital tools and software make it easy and convenient to create a digital story. Common software includes Canva and YouTube for user-friendly options. See Youth For Change Toolbox for a full list of such amazing tools.

Why Social Innovation?

‘Social innovations are new ideas that meet social needs, create social relationships and form new collaborations. These innovations can be products, services or models addressing unmet needs more effectively’.

‘Social innovative activities and services that are motivated by the goal of meeting a social need and that are predominantly developed and diffused through organisations whose primary purposes are social.’

Examples of Social Innovation Solutions


Example of an Irish Social Innovation Digital Story

Thriftify is an online charity shop. Buy ethically & help charity with our range of books, clothes, films, games & more at bargain prices.

Rónán Ó Dálaigh, Rahil Nazir,  Timur Negru of Thriftify

‘We want to disrupt how and why people shop. Faced with ecological crises, we need to give people the option of purchasing from the most sustainable sources.

We also need to shift our value system from a materialistic basis to one driven by positive social impact. We want to help charity shops move from a €2 billion bricks and mortar-based industry to a €20 billion digital commerce-based industry’. Thrifty You Tube Videos

Interview with Ronan O Dailaigh

Rónán Ó Dálaigh (BA Gnó & Gaeilge, 2014) is the Founder and CEO of Thriftify, a technology-based social enterprise in Ireland. In this video, Rónán discusses how he developed the idea for Thriftify. He also discusses his experiences as a student in DCU and provides tips to students who want to engage with social innovation and social entrepreneurship.
This video is part of the From Passion to Action project at DCU. From Passion to Action is DCU’s resource hub for social innovation and social entrepreneurship education. Students are passionate about all kinds of social and/or environmental issues. This initiative aims to support educators in embedding social impact in their teaching, irrespective of discipline. In doing so, educators DK can foster in their students the behaviour, skills, thinking and attitude in devising, testing and launching sustainable innovative solutions to social and environmental challenges. From Passion to Action is here to guide staff in providing students with the opportunity to take action on a problem that they’re truly passionate about.


Example of an Irish Social Innovation Digital Story

Kitche is a smart kitchen food waste app for cost-saving & food-waste reduction at home. Save money on food. Get recipes and reminders for food at home.

Alex Vlassopulos – Founder of Kitche

‘We created Kitche after I spoke with friends in the park one afternoon about the amount of food that people just chuck from their fridges. We wanted to do something to try and fix this. It was obvious to me that there were no platforms out there which addressed the amount of food waste in the home, despite it being the biggest source of waste’.

Kitche co-founder and CEO Alex Vlassopulos shares how he came up with the idea for Kitche over five years ago after some friends explained their struggles with wasting too much food at home. Not wasting much food himself, he was keen to better understand the problem. Turns out that people tend to forget what they have at home only to rebuy when at the store while sometimes you need the right ideas and inspiration to use the ingredients you have at home. Having worked in technology at Google and startups he thought that surely there must be an app for that. But there wasn’t. So the app Kitche was born. Alex is now on a mission to stop home food waste.


FoodCloud tackles food waste by creating a network of charities to match with donating businesses. It then offers fast and efficient ways for these businesses to donate surplus food which goes to the network of more than 9,500 charities across Ireland and the UK

Multiple charities are included e.g. those who support children and youth at risk of food poverty, elderly, homeless, those going through drug and alcohol rehabilitation, escaping domestic violence….

You Tube Channel

Aoibheann O’Brien & Iseult Ward, Ireland

By using the FoodCloud Application a business can upload details of their surplus food and the time period in which the food can be collected. A text message is sent automatically to charities in the community and the first charity to accept the offer collects it directly from the business.

Introducing FoodCloud and FoodCloud Hubs

Iseult Ward and Aoibheann O'Brien explain how FoodCloud and FoodCloud Hubs are working together to maximise the surplus food redistributed to charities in Ireland.


Get engaged with YOUTH FOR CHANGE which addresses the needs of young people and the issues they face regarding digital skills attainment, access to quality non-formal learning opportunities, active citizenship and employability.

YOUTH FOR CHANGE uses the term “youth leaders” to encompass youth workers, educators, organizations and institutions who care about the quality of their work with and for young people. Technology was a saving grace for young people during the COVID19 lockdowns in Europe offering them an opportunity to escape, learn, socialise and connect.

Author Laura Magan

© 2024 Young European Storytellers for Social Change. All rights reserved.