In 2004, AIME founder Jack Manning Bancroft, sketched an idea of a social network for good, one that connected university students as mentors with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students in Australia, building bridges between two different groups, to lead to educational equity, exchanges of worth and value, and for the mentors a deeper connection to a different lived experience.
In 2005, it commenced and scaled at pace around Australia engaging over 25,000 Indigenous high school students who closed a 40% education outcome gap, and it lit up the minds of a generation of university students desperate to connect to something bigger than themselves, with over 5,000 university students volunteering their time and energy to make AIME the largest ongoing volunteer movement of university students in Australian history.
The power of AIME to build unlikely connections grew as we encountered further barriers to the high school students’ pathway out of inequity – barriers in mass cultural storytelling where they couldn’t see anyone like them, barriers in employment, barriers in the board rooms, barriers in the shape of the economy that saw so many kids like them outside the margins.
One by one, we’ve worked tirelessly on building bridges between these young people and the people in control of many of the friction points where change has not yet occurred, but is possible if we embrace unlikely connections.
The more our work grew around Australia, we realised the largest challenge to inequity was not limited by national borders; it was all interlinked, it was how we saw each other, how we saw people outside the margins, how we valued exchange and the amount of the pie there was to go around globally.
In 2016, we expanded our work across the globe, which has led to the invention of our own TV network, radio show and University to train people to make unlikely connections – which in 2021 is reaching people across 52 countries. We scaled our work in fashion, with our Hoodie to drive into youth culture with a symbol that was more than an empty brand promise, a symbol that showed the true power of fashion for good.
We are in the process of bringing all of this work into an online world, contained in one social network, where we can model a different economy of exchange where everyone is included and where there are bridges for those in positions of power who want to see things change, but don’t know where to find a marginalised young person, or connect to a different way of thinking. Our network will build these bridges driven by the power of unlikely connections.
While nation states have struggled to find solutions that bridge the divides, we have decided to call our new network, IMAGI-NATION, a new nation, where everyone has a seat at the table, and where we are all invited to make an unlikely connection and help build a fairer world.