Video plays a powerful role in bringing us closer together, especially when it connects people in real time. By transcending borders, empowering citizens, and increasing transparency, it’s one of the many ways technology allows democracy to thrive. Starting this week, all members of the U.S. Congress will have the opportunity to access enhanced features on their YouTube channels, including the ability to live stream video.

Live video is already allowing elected officials and their constituents to reach one another in innovative ways. Thousands tuned in to YouTube to watch the president’s State of the Union address and the corresponding Republican response this February. Engagement is growing across many types of platforms--Google+ Hangouts, for example, have sparked face-to-face conversations on topics ranging from gun control to the national economy, and have allowed people on the other side of the world to share their stories at Congressional hearings.

If you’re a member of Congress and would like to know more, check out these Dear Colleague letters issued by the House and Senate. Whether it’s to share a look into your daily work, broadcast speeches and meetings, or showcase events in your state or district, we can’t wait to see how you connect with your constituents.

Robert Kyncl, Vice President, Global Head of Content Partnerships for YouTube recently watched "Dove Real Beauty Sketches" & Susan Molinari, Vice President, Public Policy and Government Relations recently watched “If there's one thing you do today, get a business online.”

Congratulations to chef Manjula, our featured "On The Rise" partner this month. Her YouTube channel, ManjulasKitchen, is in the spotlight on the YouTube Spotlight channel today.

Manjula has posted cooking videos on YouTube for more than six years, but her history with the kitchen dates back to her childhood in North India, where she assisted her mother with cooking for their family. From a young age, Manjula learned the importance of fresh ingredients and simple spices. She carried this knowledge and experience with her to the United States many years later, and continued to hone her craft. Her loyal following on YouTube includes beginners and experienced chefs who are also interested in producing authentic Indian vegetarian cuisine. Check out Manjula’s channel to learn for yourself how to make chai masala tea, sweet almond brittle, or classic Indian vegetable curry. You’ll appreciate the clear video walkthrough as well as the written instructions you’ll find for each recipe, and we’re betting the end result will delight you as well!

Manjula has a few words to share:
I would first like to acknowledge and thank my subscribers and everyone who voted for me. I truly enjoy creating these recipes and sharing with you. I take a lot of pride in my work through Manjula's Kitchen. I often spend a lot of time perfecting each recipe. I have to admit that the right recipe and the right combination of ingredients is not always the easiest to come up with! Despite this, I must say I truly enjoy this process. You, the viewers, have given me so much love and encouragement over the years. Your feedback and enthusiasm for Manjula's Kitchen is invaluable. It has really given me the motivation and desire to continue coming up with creative and new recipes to share with you. YouTube has given me a wonderful platform to promote my passion and love for cooking.
If you’ve enjoyed this monthly On The Rise blog series, and want to see more rising YouTube partners, check out our Google Hangouts with past featured partners on the YouTube Creators channel. You can participate and help us surface YouTube talent by nominating a YouTube partner to be considered for the “On The Rise” program. Feel free to submit nominations for your own channel, or for channels you follow that you think deserve more attention or could be the next YouTube sensation. We’ll continue to feature promising partners who drive more watch time and produce engaging content on a regular basis. See you next month!

Christine Wang and Devon Storbeck, YouTube Partner Support, recently watched "Lie Witness News - Coachella 2013."

If you’ve ever spent a Sunday night enjoying "Boardwalk Empire" or rocking out to (and properly using the) "Oxford Comma," you’re in for a treat this weekend.

On Sunday at 9 p.m. ET, Vampire Weekend will perform a concert directed by none other than award-winning actor, director and producer Steve Buscemi to close out this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. And the best news of all is that you won’t need tickets to the Roseland Ballroom to take in the show. You can experience the entire event from the comfort of your couch via YouTube.

This concert, which is a lead-up to the release of Vampire Weekend’s next album, marks the 12th installment of “American Express Unstaged,” a concert series in partnership with YouTube and VEVO that brings together musical artists and film directors to create innovative performances.

The show’s sure to be full of great songs and surprises, including an opportunity for fans at home to unlock an exclusive BACKSTAGED performance, so mark your calendar and be sure to tune in. Here’s some trivia you may not even know: just last month, vocalist and bassist Chris Baio learned he’s actually related to Buscemi (thank you, genealogy websites).

Check out Vampire Weekend’s channel to see new, exclusive videos from this zany collaboration. We can’t wait to see what happens live.

Nicola Young, Marketing Programs Manager, recently watched "How to Destroy Angels - Ice Age - Live From Coachella, April 12, 2013."

Today is an important day for the Internet. For the second time, a federal court correctly rejected Viacom’s lawsuit against YouTube. This is a win not just for YouTube, but for the billions of people worldwide who depend on the web to freely exchange ideas and information.

In enacting the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Congress effectively balanced the public interest in free expression with the rights of copyright holders. The court today reaffirmed an established judicial consensus that the DMCA protects web platforms like YouTube that work with rightsholders and take appropriate steps to remove user-generated content that rightsholders notify them is infringing.

The growing YouTube community includes not only a billion individual users, but tens of thousands of partners who earn revenue from the platform -- from independent musicians and creators to some of the world’s biggest record labels, movie studios, and news organizations. Today’s decision recognizes YouTube as a thriving and vibrant forum for all these users, creators and consumers alike. Today is an important day for the Internet.

Kent Walker, Senior Vice President & General Counsel, Google

Since its inception, organizations and individuals looking to change the world have used YouTube to rally an audience around a cause. Working at YouTube, we love seeing inspiring videos shared around the world everyday. “Good” videos have in turn inspired us to build tools to make it easier to run a campaign on YouTube and turn video views into action. We’ve made a 30-page “Playbook for Good” full of best practices to help you make the most inspiring and impactful cause videos possible and the videos just keep getting better and better.

That is why, for the fourth year in a row, we joined with See3 Communications to run the annual DoGooder Video Awards to recognize the year’s best nonprofit and cause videos. This year there were four different categories. And, for the first time, we accepted videos from creators looking to change the world one view at a time, not just nonprofit organizations.

The finalists chosen in the first round were all excellent examples of how far "cause video" has come since we first launched the YouTube Nonprofit Program in 2007. Nonprofits (and other DoGooders) are becoming increasingly savvy with online video; they're making funny, creative, episodic, and interactive cause-related content. They’re turning video views into awareness, petition signatures, donations, volunteer hours, and more. The four winners were chosen from more than a dozen finalists by public voting. Here they are:

Best Nonprofit Video Award: Follow the Frog 

The Rainforest Alliance’s “Follow the Frog” is a humorous tale of a well-intentioned epic misadventure, showing that sustainability-minded consumer choices can be more effective for change than vigilante conservation.

Change Agent Award: 350km message for women with ovarian cancer

After losing his mother to cancer, Raf Bauer set out on a 350-kilometer walk across Scotland to raise awareness and funds for Target Ovarian Cancer.

Funny for Good: No Joke. Choice Matters. Everywhere.

Pathfinder International’s “No Joke. Choice Matters. Everywhere.” comically portrays the difficulties many women face when trying to access reproductive health care. While presented in a comical light, the video outlines actions to help women for whom a lack of access to health care is no joke.

ImpactX Award: END7: How to Shock a Celebrity

The Sabin Vaccine Institute’s “How to Shock a Celebrity” successfully brought attention to seven Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) and helped generate funds to end these diseases by 2020. The campaign used video to, first, grab attention and then present a solution that donors could easily fund. The video translated into donations that averaged 20 cents per view. At more than 220,000 views, that’s quite a few vaccines, considering it only takes 50 cents to provide one person with treatment and protection against all seven NTDs for up to one year.

You can check out all of the 2013 finalists here.

Jessica Mason, YouTube for Good, recently watched African Men. Hollywood Stereotypes. []

After putting Seoul’s Gangnam district on the map and single-handedly reviving the powder blue tux, PSY’s got big plans this weekend and you’re invited to get involved.

Less than four months after he shattered records by hitting the 1 billion mark, the artist who made K-Pop global is back to perform his second single, “Gentleman” live for the first time ever. Where? On YouTube, of course.

This Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Korean Standard Time (2:30 a.m. PST), PSY will kick off a live streamed concert from the Seoul World Cup Stadium and share his new single with the world. You can check out the action at, where the concert will be rebroadcast for 24 hours after the live event.

In the meantime, check out this message from our favorite sunglass-rocking pop star himself and make sure to mark your calendars for this Saturday.

Sun Lee, Product Marketing Manager, APAC YouTube recently watched "TEENS REACT TO GANGNAM STYLE," and Ali Rivera, West Coast Head Artist Label Relations, recently watched “BABY TWINS DANCING TO GANGNAM STYLE.”

In our monthly On The Rise program, we identify four partners whose channels are seeing significant growth but haven’t yet reached the 100,000 subscriber mark. Thanks to your help, we’re excited to share four partners who are just shy of that milestone this month. The nominees this April are each invested in a specific craft that helps them stand out on YouTube: friendship bracelets, guitars, skateboards, and cooking.

Here’s where you come in--you actually have the chance to help push these partners even further on YouTube. Review their videos below, vote for your favorite here, and one of these candidates will have the opportunity to be featured across YouTube later this month. In addition to your votes, each channel will be evaluated on criteria such as viewer engagement and channel optimization techniques to decide which partner we’ll feature.

In past months, featured On The Rise partners like psychosoprano and devinanderica have gained many subscribers and seen their careers take off, in large part due to your support. This month’s poll will be open until April 17, 5 p.m. PT, so don’t forget to vote for your favorite channel. Check back to see which channel will be featured on April 30.

Lisa has been making friendship bracelets for the past 15 years and has now expanded into string crafts. Her channel hosts tutorials on making a variety of bracelets out of different materials and is organized by level so you can learn regardless of your experience.

Premier Guitar’s print magazine launched in 2007, and their multimedia content has always been sourced by musicians, for musicians. Guitar enthusiasts at any level of experience will find entertaining and educational videos on this channel, and can continue their relentless pursuit of tone.

Aaron has been skateboarding for almost 20 years himself and shares that passion by teaching others how to skateboard and sharing skateboarding culture and news. His channel is filled with videos that can help beginners as well as awe even the most experienced skaters.

Manjula has been sharing her passion for vegetarian Indian cooking on YouTube since 2006. She includes written recipes with the videos to help beginner cooks, and invites more advanced cooks to add their own twist on her dishes.

If you’re interested in participating or have suggestions for partners you think should be featured, you can nominate a YouTube partner to be considered for the “On The Rise” program. You can also check out some of our Google Hangouts with past featured partners on the Partner Support channel.

Devon Storbeck and Christine Wang, YouTube Partner Support, recently watched “MAKEUP PET PEEVES!”

Every April, tens of thousands of the world’s most avid music fans flock to Southern California to kick off music festival season at Coachella. This year, you don’t even need a ticket to be a part of the show. 

For the third year in a row, you can catch the entire first weekend live from Indio on Coachella's official YouTube channel. Starting this Friday at 3:30 p.m. PT, YouTube's three-channel feed, which is presented by T-Mobile, will live stream performances from five stages (including, for the first time, the Sahara Tent). You'll be able to catch artists' interviews with and live shows from more than 60 bands, including the xxPassion PitVampire Weekend and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

So whether you can't stand the desert heat or are just suffering from massive FOMO, be sure to check out the entire Coachella schedule here on YouTube.

Chelsea Maughan, Communications Manager, recently watched "The Postal Service 'Nothing Better.'"