The Foundation Cibervoluntarios has been trying over the last 15 years to make sure that nobody remains on the sidelines of technological advances, which are very important so that no one is excluded from society.
Concepts such as social innovation, empowering the citizen and inclusion have gained weight in society. However, the passage of time and the changing of mindsets have not only made these words part of our vocabulary, but they have been included as indispensable elements to help us evolve as a society.
“We come from a period in which an immense gap has been generated because of the crisis, and we are now living in a time where we need to work and coordinate together. Now, it is important to build and bet on a fourth sector: socially responsible companies”, explains Yolanda Rueda, President of Foundation Cibervoluntarios, a pioneering NGO in this field.
Thanks to its 15 years of experience, it has been considered by Financial Times one of the one hundred organizations leading the growth in Europe.
Just at the moment when the change of the century caused a social gap created by new technologies, the Foundation was born with the goal of promoting their use, especially by those groups at risk of socio-digital exclusion.
“I hardly believed it”, Yolanda said. “The technology was the most powerful tool to eliminate these gaps”. At that time, she was one of the founders of Campus Party, the big camp for PC users.
For this reason, she resolved to organize along with her colleague Jorge Rastrilla a chat about the role of internauts in the problem of inclusion. This is how the Foundation was born, and today it counts on a team made up of 17 people in various parts of Spain and more than 1,500 cybervolunteers that teach the population how to use the technology to be involved in social development, be trained, get a job…
“It is not a question of digital alphabetization, but appropriation of technology. How the life of a person changes when he/she starts to use these technologies, to know them and integrate them as a new tool in his/her life”, said Yolanda.
“Inclusion is not possible without technology. The internet is just over there, both to study and for administrative management, a world of possibilities. We are totally sure that, by teaching this powerful tool, we open doors for people to do whatever they really want”, she said.
Since its foundation in 2005, Cibervoluntarios operates through two ways:
“The last project started as an event at an international level including people from all the world that are changing the technology from a more social point of view. For example, in 2009 Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter, came”.
“Empodera.org was created for any organization to generate its own space of social innovation, to decide which of its needs related to two or three Sustainable Development Goals were to be solved by young people”, she explains. It is made though educational centers, both schools and universities, thanks to the support of UN.
In the same vein, they created Ideatones shortly after, journeys of 8 hours where NGOs and some young people concentrate to give innovative, open and sustainable solutions to ODS. “UN liked the project Empodera.org so much that now it wants it to be scalable and replicable to other countries. We are starting with Mexico and Ecuador”, said Yolanda proudly. “Our goal is to bring Ideatones to other countries in 2020”.
In addition to that, the Foundation Cibervoluntarios is participating in another 10 European projects, including Provenance, in collaboration with Trinity College in Dublin, which focuses on finding fake news thanks to Blockchain; or Nadine, aimed at the integration of migrants and refugees through Artificial Intelligence.
“Also, we have 12-15 of our own projects with which we are going to become 30,000 people by the end of the year”, she explains.
These initiatives focus especially on cybersecurity, the use of networks by teenagers, employability in rural areas, gender violence, functional diversity… “In short, we want to use technology from a wide point of view to get total inclusion, as the only way to grow is looking to both sides. Look at what other people do and build together”, Yolanda concluded.