New Organization Will Help People Use XR to Imagine and Build a Better World

AUSTIN, TEXAS, MARCH 11, 2024—Chip Giller and Wendy Schmidt announced today the launch of Agog: The Immersive Media Institute—a groundbreaking initiative at the intersection of technology, communications, and social impact. Agog, a philanthropic organization, will help creators and nonprofit leaders harness the power of extended reality (XR) technologies to spur positive social transformation, opening new avenues for empathy, understanding, and activism.

Chip Giller, known for his trailblazing work in journalism as the founder of the climate media organization Grist, and Wendy Schmidt, a visionary philanthropist and investor who has spent nearly two decades working to make the world healthy, resilient and secure, are joining forces to bring their shared passion for innovation and social change to the forefront of the immersive media landscape.

Immersive media and XR—including virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, and other emerging technologies—go beyond traditional forms of storytelling by putting users into the action, engaging their senses and fostering connection with others and with the natural world.

Agog will serve as a hub for collaboration, cultivating partnerships among XR creators and nonprofit leaders, and providing resources to envision new forms of communication and turn them into reality. As immersive media enter the mainstream, Agog aims to help people use leading-edge XR to imagine and build a more just, sustainable world, addressing pressing global challenges and nurturing a deeper sense of empathy and interconnectedness. 

“As crazy as it sounds, these new technologies can help people feel and experience what is and what was—but also what could be,” said Chip Giller, Agog co-founder and executive director. “Too often, storytelling focuses only on problems. We want to lift up the very real possibilities of building a better, more just world, and are agog about the power of XR to inspire action.”

Co-founder Wendy Schmidt said, “Few people forget the first time they experience XR and are transported to another place or walk in someone else’s shoes—Agog’s name comes from this sense of awe and wonder. Agog creates extended reality, but it could just as easily be called empathic reality. Immersing people into new experiences, alongside those who live them, has the potential to dramatically transform our relationships with each other, and with our planet.”

Agog advisors include immersive media thought leaders and technologists like Jared Cheshier, Courtney Cogburn, Nonny de la Peña, Loren Hammonds, Amy Seidenwurm, and John Vechey

Key focus areas of Agog include:

  • Social justice and equity: The institute will help to nurture and support a diverse field of immersive media creators that is focused on lifting up social-justice issues and on ensuring that these technologies are made more accessible. 
  • High-impact storytelling/world-building: The institute will support the creation of XR content that builds empathy and explores ways to address social and environmental challenges, such as climate change, racial justice, and human rights.
  • Research: The institute will partner with researchers to explore the applications of XR in fostering empathy and driving positive behavioral change.
  • Education and outreach: Through workshops, technical support, training programs, and other outreach initiatives, the institute will empower people to use XR for social good.
  • Advocacy and policy: The institute will engage in efforts to promote responsible and ethical use of immersive media technologies.

Early examples of Agog’s work include support for:

  • MIT Reality Hack, helping to introduce Indigenous perspectives to a hackathon in January that involved more than 600 participants from around the world;
  • Anagram’s “Impulse: Playing with Reality,” a revolutionary mixed-reality experience that explores what it means to live with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder;
  • “The City of Awe,” a project out of the Arizona State University Narrative and Emerging Media Program that will enable communities across Los Angeles to use immersive media tools to design and then physically transform abandoned areas in their neighborhoods into community green spaces;
  • “Whose Future?”, a pilot program that gives hands-on XR instruction to teens at the Boys and Girls Club in Harlem, New York;
  • “Forager,” an XR experience that uses sight, sound, touch, and scent to immerse participants in the complete life cycle of mushrooms; and
  • The Social Impact BuildFest at the University of Texas at Austin, which worked with XR newcomers to prototype social experiences in XR centered on impact. 

Agog invites nonprofit leaders, XR creators, and others excited by its vision to visit to learn more and to join its community of makers and doers. Agog is also on BlueSky, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Threads.

About Agog: The Immersive Media Institute

Agog: The Immersive Media Institute is a philanthropic organization that helps people use extended reality (XR) to to create human connection, cultivate empathy, and inspire action toward a more just and sustainable future. Agog brings together nonprofit leaders, thinkers, and creators to harness the power of emerging media like virtual and augmented reality to develop new ways to communicate, learn, inspire, and collaborate. Agog’s initial areas of focus include social justice and equity, high-impact storytelling and world-building, research, education and outreach, and policy and ethics. To learn more, visit

About Chip Giller

Chip Giller has been a visionary in the climate space and media field for 30 years, leading creative storytelling teams and partnering with nonprofits, philanthropists, and other leaders to accelerate progress to a better, more just world. In 2024, Chip joined forces with Wendy Schmidt to launch Agog: The Immersive Media Institute, bringing their shared passion for innovation and social change to the forefront of the immersive media landscape. Agog helps people use emerging media like XR to imagine and build better futures. In 1999, Chip founded one of the first digital news organizations and first nonprofit newsrooms, Grist, to engage the next generation on climate change and other environmental issues. Grist reaches millions and has been recognized in many ways for its impact, including as a recipient of the National Magazine Award for General Excellence. In 2017, Chip launched Grist’s solutions lab to identify, celebrate, and connect a diverse array of climate solutions leaders, collectively known as the Grist 50; and to tell unexpected stories in creative new formats about justice and progress. Among other honors, Chip has received a Heinz Award and been named a TIME “Hero of the Environment.” Follow Chip on Threads and LinkedIn.

About Wendy Schmidt

Wendy Schmidt is a philanthropist and investor who has spent nearly two decades creating organizations that work with communities around the world to advance clean energy, resilient food systems, healthy oceans and human rights. The critical interconnections between human activity, the land we live on and the ocean we depend upon are the central drivers of Wendy’s philanthropic work. Through a combination of grants and investments, Wendy’s philanthropic work supports research and science, community organizations, promising leaders and the development of innovative technologies. In 2024, Wendy co-founded Agog: The Immersive Media Institute, a groundbreaking initiative at the intersection of technology, communications and social impact. Wendy is president and co-founder of the Schmidt Family Foundation and Schmidt Ocean Institute, both of which she founded with her husband Eric. The couple also founded Schmidt Sciences, a nonprofit organization working to advance science and technology that accelerates and deepens human understanding of the natural world and develops solutions to global issues. A competitive sailor, Wendy has extended her oceans-focused work to the sporting world through 11th Hour Racing, an organization she co-founded to work with the sailing community and maritime industry to advance sustainable solutions and practices that protect and restore ocean health. Follow Wendy on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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