The TechCamp Program 2023 Year in Review

BJ McDuffie
January 1, 2024

2023 was another productive and impactful year for the TechCamp Program! We held nine TechCamps welcoming more than 450 participants and trainers. Our participants and trainers all came together at their respective TechCamp events to network, learn about and leverage technology, and develop projects that make a difference in their communities.

We are proud to highlight below some of the continued engagement activities that resulted from our global programming last year, including the list of selected project teams for the first-ever TechCamp specific Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) Grant competition.

2023’s TechCamp programs in chronological order:

February 16-18, 2023: TechCamp Tbilisi: Countering Disinformation throughout the Caucasus, hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Georgia and implementing partner Caucasus University.

There were six small grant projects funded from TechCamp Tbilisi:

  • All About Pinocchios, a project focused on educating the Georgian public on pervasive disinformation messages reinforced by legislation that targets journalists, and teaching fact checking skills.
  • Media literacy through English, a project focused on teaching media literacy and English proficiency skills to help create a more informed and engaged community in Ninotsminda, Georgia.
  • Verified Future, an intensive media literacy training program for 30 pre-service and early-career English language teachers in three Northwestern districts of Azerbaijan.
  • A travel grant for an educator to attend a Digital Media Literacy Skills course and then share her new skills with her colleagues.
  • Tok TV, a workshop focused on strengthening the cooperation of young people from different ethnic groups in Georgia to address misinformation using a mobile application called Fact or Fake as a guide.
  • A three-day Media Literacy workshop for Teachers in Armenia.

Read about TechCamp Tbilisi alumna and small grant winner, Manon Bokuchava’s experience here:

TechCamp Tbilisi participants and trainers, with their certificates of completion.

February 2023 (virtual). April 8-10 (in-person), 2023: Hybrid Global TechCamp Reconnect Nepal, hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Nepal and implementing partner Kathmandu Living Labs (KLL). This TechCamp was unique because in addition to its in-person programming, there was a virtual series of training sessions focused on public health disinformation that were open to all TechCamp alumni. Then an international cohort of program alumni were invited to attend the in-person session in Nepal.

There were five small grant projects funded following Hybrid Global TechCamp Reconnect Nepal:

  • Digital Media Literacy for Young Adolescents, a pilot program to conduct research, create a handbook, and run workshops targeted to school teachers in the Koshi and Madhesi provinces of Nepal.
  • A digital outreach module for the management of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) mis/disinformation, a project focused on combating mis/disinformation about health, using digital technology to combat antibiotic self medication.
  • Say it With Pride: a news portal to counter mis/disinformation about the LGBTQIA+ community in India.
  • Diluting Mis and Disinformation: a simplified digital incident reporting platform for rural communities.
  • A participant who used a travel grant to attend the APAC Trusted Media Summit in Singapore.

This blog post was written by Melinda T. Quinones, one of the global alumni participants of Global TechCamp Reconnect Nepal, from the Philippines.

Hybrid Global TechCamp Reconnect Nepal Group Photo.

April 14-16, 2023: TechCamp Kazakhstan: Countering Disinformation in Central Asia, was hosted by the U.S. Mission to Kazakhstan and implementing partner MediaNet International Centre for Journalism Public Foundation.

There were nine small grant projects funded following TechCamp Kazakhstan:

  • Fighting disinformation and propaganda among young people: a program creating educational materials in Tajik language to aid ethnic Tajik youth who are vulnerable to economic migration in identifying mis and disinformation.
  • Protection from Russian propaganda and its analysis in Central Asian countries: a project educating people about how to fact-check information. It also includes an analysis of Russian disinformation, especially in relation to historical information in Central Asia.
  • Critical Thinking School, a one-day field training for students of journalism faculties of the city of Astana.
  • Increasing the potential of members of the fact-check community in Uzbekistan and developing content on the website, creating educational materials in the local languages.
  • Teaching journalism students to harness their mobile phones to tackle disinformation: a curriculum to teach students how to identify disinformation, and then equip them with mobile journalism and social media content creation tools to creatively counter the disinformation they come across.
  • Developing Cyber Security Skills for Women Journalists and Bloggers in Central Asia by designing and conducting a series of online webinars with the participation of local and international trainers.
  • The impact of the war in Ukraine on the lives of ordinary people in Central Asia: a project that is seeking to raise awareness of the impact of the war in Ukraine on Central Asia by fighting disinformation and propaganda.
  • DOSTYK UYI: a project seeking to unite journalists, bloggers, and activists from the border areas of Kazakhstan with the aim of developing inter-ethnic relations and strengthening civil society in the face of disinformation and propaganda from “superpower countries”.
  • A training platform for content makers from Kazakhstan, which will include two two-day training seminars in the cities of Aktobe and Aktau. The topics of the two trainings are adapting content to social media networks, and audience engagement.

Catch a glimpse inside of TechCamp Kazakhstan in this YouTube video:

TechCamp Kazakhstan Group Photo.

June 22-24, 2023: NextGen TechCamp Nairobi: Ecopreneurship, hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Kenya and implementing partner Pwani Teknowgalz. This TechCamp was unique because it was part of a larger initiative to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the TechWomen Program worldwide. This resulted in the development of three unique “NextGen” TechCamp Programs that will take place in three world regions: the Middle East and North Africa (Jordan), South and Central Asia (Kazakhstan), and Sub-Saharan Africa (Kenya), and include participants from the TechWomen and TechGirls Programs. NextGen TechCamp Nairobi included participants who were alumnae of these programs in addition to the Mandela Washington Fellows (MWF), and the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs (AWE).

There were eight small grant projects funded following NextGen TechCamp Nairobi:

  • Bioenergy, a project to train 20 agripreneur women from Mbankomo municipality, Cameroon, in biogas and biofertilizer production.
  • Bridgehub, an initiative that will address climate smart farming gaps in the agricultural sector as well as financing and marketing gaps to smallholder farmers.
  • Safehaven Upskilling Hub will focus on training persons with disabilities in a range of technical and entrepreneurship skills.
  • (USoW) Using Solar Waste, addresses the rapidly increasing quantity of waste resulting from solar gadgets (e.g. panels, lamps etc.), by recycling or upcycling household electronic waste. Ten women will be trained as solar repair and recycle technicians in a pilot program to encourage adoption of reusable solar-powered products.
  • Econnect, a program to provide mentorship and guidance to local “Eco-preuers” to help them to grow their businesses.
  • GoGarbage, is a mobile app revolutionizing waste management by offering efficient garbage collection scheduling, real-time tracking, and educational resources on sustainable practices.
  • Geolocation, a geolocation-oriented platform that aims to bridge the gap between entrepreneurs and farmers by facilitating efficient and transparent transactions while fostering local economic growth.
  • Ecostart, an AI-powered database tailored for African Green Business Startups, offering insights into funding, regulations, and best practices.
  • Read about Kreeshna, a NextGen TechCamp Nairobi alumna, who is also a TechGirls alumna, in this Instagram post:

    NextGen TechCamp Nairobi Alumni.

    July 26-28, 2023: TechCamp Managua, hosted by the U.S. Mission to Nicaragua and a local implementing partner.
    There were two small grant projects funded following TechCamp Managua:

    • Plataforma Digital “Ruta Orgánica”, a website for promoting organic farms and sustainable businesses.
    • “Ecomarketing: Impulsando tu Marca Sostenible”, a project to train entrepreneurs on marketing techniques to ‘boost’ their sustainable brands.

    August 9-11: TechCamp Vietnam, hosted by the U.S. Mission in Vietnam in partnership with with the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). This TechCamp trained participants on topics including crisis communication, media literacy, the impact of AI on the information space, and media engagement skills.

    Following the TechCamp, a special program, Tech Camp Vietnam Follow On: Crisis Communications with Vietnam National University, is planned to take place in May 2024. This follow on project directly aligns with the U.S. – Vietnam Comprehensive Strategic Partnership announced a month after Tech Camp Vietnam. In the joint statement between President Joseph R. Biden and General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, both leaders agreed on the importance of working with experts outside of government to advance resilience in vulnerable communities, including through disaster preparedness. The TechCamp follow-on will work at the sub national level with media and local governments to share best practices in communication skills and information dissemination preparedness during the climate crisis to counter misinformation and promote a more open and secure information space.

    TechCamp Vietnam Group Photo.

    August 16-19, 2023: TechCamp Ohrid: Countering Disinformation Through Education, hosted by the U.S. Embassy in North Macedonia and implementing partner the Center for Innovation and Digital Education (DIG-ED).

    There were six small grant projects funded following TechCamp Ohrid:

    • The Developing and Testing Media Literacy Curriculum project is dedicated to creating a comprehensive media literacy curriculum, which will be piloted in five schools across North Macedonia.
    • Native terms of Media Literacy to build capacity: this project is a joint effort between teachers, experts in Macedonian language, journalists, and experts in digital educational games (microlearning) to translate Macedonian media literacy terminology and provide curriculum inspiration for teachers, students, and Macedonian journalists.
    • TruthTech: Media Literacy in the Age of AI (MLinAA), is a comprehensive and engaging initiative designed to empower teachers with knowledge and skills needed to design and implement media literacy teaching activities.
    • Media literacy for all, two special educators who focus on teacher training will collaborate with special educators from elementary schools in Veles, to develop a series of training workshops for teachers and a website called Media Literacy for All.
    • EduCyberGuardians is a dynamic open online educational platform designed for primary school teachers on media literacy topics.
    • Media digital triangle will create educational comics on media literacy and countering disinformation topics, and will also produce several news programs on the subject for the community.
    TechCamp Ohrid Group Photo.

    September 14-16, 2023: TechCamp Belem: Local, Diverse, and Sustainable Journalism, hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Brazil and implementing partner Enois.

    There were three small grant projects funded following TechCamp Belem:

    • Puxirum, which aims to catalog and value ancestral knowledge and management methodologies of various collectives and socio-cultural communication and sustainability networks in the Amazon and peripheral areas. This will be achieved through the promotion of virtual exchanges of training and professional development activities between organizations committed to democratization of communication and sustainability in their territories.
    • “From local Journalism to Business,” will show the path that Agência Mural has taken to produce local and independent journalism covering the outskirts of the country’s largest metropolis for 13 years.
    • Expansion of digital totems throughout Brazil – strengthening and disseminating independent journalism, will make localized news materials available in small businesses (grocery stores, bakeries, etc.) where there are not historically independent news sources available.
    TechCamp Belem Group Photo.

    October 12-14, 2023: TechCamp Takoradi: Tech Solutions to Illegal Mining, hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Ghana and implementing partner The University of Mines and Technology (UMAT).

    There were four small grant projects funded following TechCamp Takoradi:

    • Leveraging on carbon trading to provide a diversified source of income to illegal miners.
    • Addressing the mercury pollution menace with intensive awareness creation on mercury and an introduction and promotion of mercury retort within the Artisanal Small Scale Gold Mining communities.
    • Investigating the selectivity of agricultural waste adsorbents towards various metal ions in water.
    • Training workshops for raising awareness in small-scale mining communities on environmental security, responsible mining practices, and the health impacts of illegal mining activities.

    Read more about the TechCamp in this blog post from UMAT:

    TechCamp Takoradi Group Photo.

    AEIF Global Grant Opportunity
    In 2023, the TechCamp Program was able to support a special global grant opportunity for TechCamp alumni in partnership with the State Department Alumni Engagement and Innovation Fund (AEIF). We selected and funded eight projects, representing all world regions, that embodied the policy focus, topics, and community impact that are central to the TechCamp Program’s goals.

    The list of winning projects:

    • Côte d’Ivoire: BINKADI 3.0
    • Ethiopia: Co(x)ist
    • Kosovo: Cybersecurity Awareness through Animated Videos
    • Mexico: Audiovisual Journalism Training For Human Rights Story Production
    • Mongolia: Art for Change: Artist in Residency Project
    • Morocco: Revive the annual socio-cultural festival of Zaouiat Sidi Abdeslam
    • Nepal: Sipalu Sister: A Platform for Life Skill Learning
    • Turkiye: Serious Games for Earthquake Awareness and Preparedness

    You can read more about the projects in this blog post:

    2023 TechCamp AEIF Small Grants Challenge.

    We had a remarkable 2023 and look forward to seeing the final outcomes of these exciting TechCamp projects. The next batch of TechCamps for 2024 have already kicked off, and we are so excited to show you all where we’re going next.