Webby for Good is a collaborative program formed by The Webby Awards and WP Engine to showcase Webby-recognized projects built to change the world.
What’s the elevator pitch for your project?
Students organized The National School Walkout to demand gun reform in America, but some school administrators wouldn’t let their students participate. Leading up to the demonstration, actors Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore wrote #ExcuseMe letters. Letters were posted on The National School Walkout Twitter feed and made a clear case for why participation in this event should be excused. Although the letters were addressed to school administrators to serve as official excuse letters, their most important purpose was to show support and encourage students to make their voices heard.
What was the impetus for this project? What real-world challenge were you trying to solve?
Before The National School Walkout, numerous school administrators across the U.S. threatened to discipline students if they participated in the the demonstration. We sought to show support and encourage students to make their voices heard by having Robert DeNiro and Julianne Moore write them #ExcuseMe letters. The letters made a clear case for why participation in the event should be excused. Both letters were posted on Twitter for students across the country to download.
We initially planned to post the letters on the influencers’ Twitter accounts. However, Robert DeNiro doesn’t have Twitter. Rather than attempting to convince him to join the Twitterverse, we opted to post his letter, along with Julianne Moore’s, on the National School Walkout’s account.
Once you settled on your idea, what was your first step in moving it forward?
After coming up with the #ExcuseMe concept, we sought out influential people who could write letters for students. We specifically looked for influencers who are passionate about gun control. We wanted people who believe that The National School Walkout was an invaluable civics lesson, an exercise in good citizenship, a memorial for students who have died, and an opportunity to participate in our democracy.