Destination Imagination’s (DI) global programming engages young people in open-ended, academic competitions called Challenges that allow them to acquire, strengthen, and apply 21st century skills in seven focus areas: fine arts, improvisational, scientific, service learning, structural and technical (in addition to a non-competitive early learning Challenge). The “PMIEF-DI Initiative for PM-Rich Student Competitions” integrates project management into DI’s competition curricula so that students, teachers and DI volunteers acquire and strengthen project management skills that can be applied to these Challenges as well as to educational, occupational and personal pursuits.
Specifically, PMIEF’s grant funded the organization to revise its Roadmap, DI’s teacher training guide, to include project management in it prior to its dissemination at the start of the 2015-16 school year. Roadmap helps students and teachers understand the project management terminology initiate, plan, execute, monitor and control, and close by using the youth-friendly terms “define, plan, do and review.” Doing so not only strengthens teaching and learning worldwide by introducing project management to audiences unfamiliar with it, but also aligns with the foundation’s strategic goal of preparing PM Knowledgeable Youth.
The grant from PMIEF is putting project management tools in the hands of every team that takes on a Destination Imagination Challenge—tools like budgeting and fiscal accountability, creating a charter, and learning how to initiate, plan, execute, monitor, control and close a project. Teams also learn risk-taking, collaboration and team-building—all attributes that contribute to successful projects.
“By going through our system of learning, it’s like they gain expert intuition. When they are faced with a problem, challenge or opportunity, they immediately know what to do,” says Dr. Chuck Cadle, PMP, CEO of Destination Imagination, about the youth who participate in its Challenges.
Chuck’s favorite story of learning-in-action is that of a Little Rock, Arkansas, USA middle school team that participated in one of DI’s social entrepreneurship Challenges. The team sought a strategy to deliver water and medical supplies to a Nigerian community that its research had revealed lacked clean drinking water. The group ultimately decided to raise funds to build a water well in the African country, a daunting task given that the students themselves lived in an economically less advantaged community. Determined not to allow circumstances to stand in their way, the team devised a plan to collect and to sell extra pairs of shoes. Through tireless dedication and hard work, the students collected 4,000 pairs of shoes and raised enough money for the Nigerian community’s well that today bears the name of the Arkansas school in honor of the youth who made it possible.
“You can see these projects are changing kids’ lives by giving them team-building and self-confidence skills to be creative and pursue a novel idea, even if they have to step out of their comfort zone to do it,” says Chuck.
In addition to providing youth, and their mentors across the globe, with access to project management tools, DI is a partner in PMIEF’s Project Learning Network (PLN). Chuck has enjoyed collaborating with PMIEF, the Partnership for 21st Century Learning and other PLN member-organizations to develop and introduce materials that project managers can use to share the value of project management with educators and administrators in local school systems.
“If you go into any K-12 school in the U.S. today and ask if they teach project management, close to 100 percent will say no. They teach science, technology, engineering and math but they don’t bring it together in a project or as project management. At DI, we are passionate about making sure kids are connected to opportunities that are going to be shaping the future workforce, and project management is one of those opportunities,” says Chuck. “And that’s why our partnership with PMIEF is so important.”