The My Hero Project is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization established in 1995 by philanthropist Karen Pritzker, Jeanne Meyers and Rita Stern Milch that identifies positive role models from around the world for the online digital storytelling project. By 2013, it reached 194 countries.
Its primary focus is education, and it also conducts an international film festival that calls attention to real-life heroes. Its partners include iEARN.org, The Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum, Tech-Ed, The National Educational Computing Conference, and the American Film Institute.
The My Hero Project was co-founded by philanthropist Karen Pritzker, the daughter of Robert Pritzker of the Pritzker family, television producer, Jeanne Meyers, and Rita Stern Milch in 1995. The purpose of the effort is to offset the lack of positive role models in the media and "celebrate the best of humanity and empowers young people to realize their own potential to effect positive change in the world".
In 2009, the My Hero Project website received 429,713,027 hits from 5,688,348 visitors in 194 countries. Traffic to the MY HERO website currently averages over 700,000 visits per month, accessing over 2 million pages of content.
The Teacher’s Room provides tools for educators. Through guided activities, participants develop strong video, media production and digital storytelling skills. MY HERO curricula advance communication skills and critical thinking. Participants can also choose to join the International Education and Resource Network (iEARN), a virtual exchange organization that brings together a network of connected classrooms that enables prompted collaboration between classes. The Teacher’s Room has over 51,645 participants annually.
The My Hero Project regularly offers educational media workshops in the U.S. and other countries. A Cultural Arts Exchange Grant from the U.S. State Department funded the Global Exchange Project, in which MY HERO media arts educators traveled to the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Senegal and Jordan to conduct media and video workshops. Through these workshops and the digital media library, My Hero Project uses artistic expression to bridge religious, political and language barriers and promotes greater cultural awareness.
New Roads Schools
My Hero rented space in the Herb Alpert Educational Village at New Roads School in Santa Monica, California beginning in 2013. They will have access to a 340-seat, state-of-the-art theatre a few times a years and use of a community room for meetings. Other nonprofits are located in the village, with the Capshaw-Spielberg Center for Arts and Educational Justice, named for Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg. It is meant to be a place that fosters synergistic interaction between the nonprofits and the students at the New Roads School. For My Hero, the attraction is a partnership with students who are interested in documentary storytelling internships and projects.
My Hero has partnered with iEARN.org, The Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum, Tech-Ed, The National Educational Computing Conference, The American Film Institute Silver Doc’s Workshops, KOCE-OC, Art Miles Mural Project and other internationally recognized nonprofit educational organizations.
Thirty-seven classrooms participated in the iEARN learning circle in Spring 2010 and in 2018 the iEARN My Hero project is still running.
It produces documentaries, like Laguna Beach Eco Heroes which highlighted the efforts of the Crystal Cove Alliance, ECO-Warrior Foundation, Laguna Bluebelt, Laguna Canyon Foundation, Nancy Caruso, One World One Ocean, Pacific Marine Mammal Center, Wyland, and Zero Trash Laguna in a 30-minute documentary. It was funded by The Massen Greene Foundation and aired on Cox Cable in 2015. It is also on the organization's website. Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano conducted a water conservation educational program, which included viewing the documentary, with children from the Boys & Girls Club as part of its eighth annual Laguna Hero Fest. Students were given CDs with more information about the environmental so that they could explore the topic further on their own.
The MY HERO International Film Festival, held annually, showcases films submitted by children and adults worldwide and recognizes commercial media that calls attention to real life heroes. Two major awards are presented at the festival: the MY HERO Media award to honor an exceptional activist and the Ron Kovic Peace Prize to honor the film that best exemplifies the theme of peace. The annual MY HERO Local Film Festival highlights the best local submissions and celebrates heroes in the organization’s home-town of Laguna Beach, California.
Anshul Sinha, an award-winning independent filmmaker, was a finalist in the 2014 film festival conducted by MY HERO. His film, Andhra Telangana, was screened on November 21, 2014. He won the International Peace Prize in 2012 for his film work.
Since 2008, they have conducted Hero Fests in Laguna, California.
The project published a book, My Hero: Extraordinary People on the Heroes Who Inspire Them in 2005 that includes essays by well-known figures like John McCain, Dana Reeve, Rudy Giuliani, Michael J. Fox, Yogi Berra, and John Glenn about who inspired them. An audio book was released in 2006, which is narrated by Ellen Archer and Alan Sklar.
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Some of the people named as heroes by the project include:
- Deepak Acharya, Science hero
- Hazel Barton, Science hero
- Bernice Pauahi Bishop, Woman hero
- Louise Burfitt-Dons, Anti-bullying hero
- Leo Buscaglia, Writer hero
- Morris Dees, Freedom hero
- Divine Bradley, Community hero
- Medgar Evers, Freedom hero
- Margot Fonteyn, Artist hero
- Andrea M. Ghez, Science hero
- DuBose Heyward, Poet hero
- Ryan Hreljac, Lifesaver hero
- Janet Jagan, Freedom hero
- Florence Kelley, Angel hero
- Zohra ben Lakhdar, Science hero
- Sherry Lansing, Business hero
- Pete Maravich, Sports hero
- Bob Moses, Teacher hero
- Eleanor Roosevelt, Woman hero
- Debra Ruh, Woman hero
- Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, Science hero
- Vedran Smailović, Hero's hero
- Kimmie Weeks, Community hero
- Ken Saro-Wiwa, Writer hero
- Ameera Butt (August 13, 2013). "Space at New Roads School provides nonprofit collaboration". Santa Monica Daily Press. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- Alderton, Bryce (May 28, 2013). "Community heroes recognized at Hero Fest". Archived from the original on October 30, 2016. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
- "iEARN Collaboration Centre". iEARN Collaboration Centre. Retrieved 2018-12-07.
- Melissa Harris; Julie Wernau (December 18, 2011). "The Pritzker Family Tree". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- Api Podder (November 18, 2016). "Goody Awards to honor The MY HERO Project Director Jeanne Meyers Saturday". My Social Good News. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- "MY HERO Activist Media". iEARN Collaboration Centre. Retrieved 2018-12-07.
- Laguna Beach Indy Staff (August 6, 2015). "Roundabout Comes to Town". Laguna Beach Indy. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
Documentary is posted at 2015 Eco Heroes, My Hero
- Alderton, Bryce (May 21, 2015). "Kids learn in fun ways the seriousness of water conservation". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
- Anisha Dhiman (Oct 21, 2014). "A Telangana, Andhra short film". Deccan Chronicle. Hyderabad. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- "My Hero: The Hero Project". Wisconsin Bookwatch. February 1, 2006. Archived from the original on November 16, 2018. Retrieved December 8, 2016 – via HighBeam Research.
- The My Hero Project (November 8, 2005). My Hero: Extraordinary People on the Heroes Who Inspire Them. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7432-9240-5.