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This program brought together a group of 40 recognized young leaders—20 from Amsterdam and 20 from New York City—for a dialogue on how social innovators from different disciplines and cultures can work together to promote active citizenship in diverse, open cities such as Amsterdam and New York City.

  • An Introduction

    P!oneers brought together a group of today's cutting-edge thinkers and entrepreneurs for a transatlantic dialogue into the the frontiers of civic engagement and social entrepreneurship in Amsterdam and New York City.

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The program participants, aged 25 to 40, were selected for their innovative thinking and outstanding professional accomplishments, and were drawn from a broad range of fields including academia, the arts, business, education, government, grassroots activism, media, and technology.

In Amsterdam

The participants engaged in three days of in-depth discussion with one another and with noted experts from Amsterdam and New York City, exploring topics like free speech, race, the inclusion of minority youth in the political process, and the possibilities for stimulating community building and social integration through new technology. The Pioneers also shared the stage with Minister Frans Timmermans at a public celebration at Felix Meritis, bringing ideas and inspiration from their discussions to a broader audience.

In New York

The participants presented their final project ideas and discussed how their ongoing collaboration can engage a wider audience in working to improve civic life. They also participated in site visits to all burrows of New York City.

Participants collectively identified three promising initiatives, all of which attendees committed to supporting moving forward:

Open my Story

This photography-based program gives marginalized youth a trans-Atlantic lens into the past, interaction in the present, and plan for the future. This is accomplished by engaging minority and immigrant youth in Amsterdam, New York City, and beyond in capturing underreported cultural histories, then integrating those stories into the historical narratives taught in city classrooms.

Resources Of the Open Mind (ROOM)

How can the P!oneers alumni best identify potential collaborators and supporters amongst their fellow graduates, and scale this “network of opportunity” globally? The group will create a strengths- based framework for an asset mapping and collaboration platform, with program participants serving as its initial user base. This social network will serve to connect community leaders with strengths to those who have a need in that capacity, and vice versa, as well as to help social entrepreneurs identify collaborators for new initiatives.

Ministry of the Impossible

By promoting highly innovative solutions to pressing urban issues via an interactive, community-driven website, this viral, global network of community leaders and artists will promote civic experimentation, creative best practices, and out-of-the-box thinking.

P!oneers: A Discussion With

  • Kenneth Jackson

    Dr. Jackson is the Jacques Barzun Professor in History and the Social Sciences at Columbia University, where he directs the Herbert H. Lehman Center for American History.

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  • Ambassador Renée Jones-Bos

    Renée Jones-Bos is the former Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United States. Beginning in 2011, she now serves as the Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague.

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  • Darian Rodriguez Heyman at Hunts Point Riverside Park

    Darian Rodriguez Heyman, University of California at Berkley, leads a discussion at Hunts Point, Bronx during the P!oneers conference in New York City, November 19, 2009

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Our supporters

The P!oneers Fellowship was made possible through the generous sponsorship of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Directorate for Citizenship & Integration of the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, and the Ministry for Youth and Families of The Netherlands.