August 14, 2018

PRESS RELEASE: The Social Institute Expands Staff to Meet Growing Demand for Positive Social Media Education

Partnerships, curriculum, and reach also increase as team prepares for new school year


Chapel Hill, NC  — August 14, 2018 — As a new school year begins, The Social Institute is increasing staff, updating curriculums, and partnering with additional schools in order to empower even more students around the nation to use social media positively.

EJ Proctor joins the team as social media coach and will be partnering with schools to coach students to win at social. EJ knows a thing or two about winning. A former professional soccer player, she was drafted to Utah Royals F.C. in 2018 to play in the National Women’s Soccer League. Prior to that she was an All-American scholar athlete for Duke Women’s Soccer. Along with social media coach Sean Kelly and CEO and founder Laura Tierney, EJ will be speaking to students, parents, and educators at schools across the country.

“EJ is a perfect addition to the team, said Tierney. “Combining her exceptional sports leadership with her social media expertise and understanding of what students face today, she is a relatable role model who students open up to and respect.”

The Social Institute also welcomes CTO and cofounder Maria Jankovics in a full-time capacity, who is leading development of the company’s new gamified tech platform. Maria previously worked as a developer at SAS and met Laura when they worked together at the leading advertising agency McKinney. The Social Institute’s new platform, launching in Spring 2019, will digitize their existing social media curriculum, making it more accessible to students in public and private schools nationwide.

Additionally, The Social Institute expanded its positive, gamified social media curriculum, co-created with the advice and help of more than 6,000 students nationwide. This summer, the organization launched over 50 gamified lessons for 6th-12th grade students:

  • High school students will navigate Face Offs, which challenge them to analyze, debate, and discuss what they believe about real-time social media-related news and trends.
  • Middle school students will navigate TSI’s signature Social Sprints, which challenge students to identify what they do during tough, yet common social media scenarios.
  • Elementary students will navigate Emoji Matchups, which challenge them to identify how they feel when others around them are using social media and technology.

“Our work with middle school students continues to have a big impact, and after two years of working with schools, we’ve learned that we needed an even better, more engaging way to impact high school students,” said Kelly. “We sat down with 11th and 12th graders this summer to brainstorm an engaging, gamified way for students to learn about positive social media use. Thanks to those brainstorms with students, the Face Off was born.”

The Social Institute also moved its office to Launch Chapel Hill, a startup incubator on Franklin Street. The team works alongside over ten startups who are also striving to create change in the world.

“We are surrounded by other lean startups and go-getter entrepreneurs,” said Tierney. “It’s a collaborative, fast-paced space that helps us stay at the cutting-edge on a topic that evolves every single day — social media and teens.”

Finally, The Social Institute has added numerous schools around the nation to their #WinAtSocial team. Saint Mary’s School joins Ravenscroft as a Premier Partner School, Gaston Day School and Episcopal Collegiate School have signed on as Multi-Year Partners, Wakefield Middle School signs on as the first robust partnership with a public school, and founding partner Ravenscroft School enters Year 3 of its premier partnership. With the addition of operations director Shayna Heinrich, who manages all school partnerships, in fall 2017, The Social Institute has greater capacity and has served over 40 schools educating 3rd-12th grade students.

“We strike to give students an experience that they embrace, learn from, and respect. And we couldn’t do it without huddling and brainstorming with the experts: students across the country. Their powerful voices and thoughtful ideas are what brings this curriculum to life,” said Tierney. “It’s important to us that we’re student-led.”

About The Social Institute
The Social Institute works with schools nationwide empowering students to use social media positively. By reinforcing character strengths like empathy, integrity, and teamwork, and by teaching teens and their role models (from parents to U.S. Olympians) to be their best selves on all platforms, we help them “win the game of social media.” With backgrounds in world-class athletics, marketing, and social media management, our team stays on the front lines of social and meets teens where they are. Our partners include Ravenscroft School, Saint Mary’s School, Gaston Day School, Milton Academy, U.S. Olympic athletes, Duke Men’s Basketball, The Women’s Sports Foundation, and other forward-thinking institutions around the nation. We offer various services, including one-of-a-kind speeches, interactive workshops, school curriculums, and a digital educational platform for parents — the Social Locker Room.