Facing History and Ourselves, Inc.

Confronting Hate and Catalyzing Democracy by Facing History

Lead Organization

Facing History and Ourselves, Inc.

Brokkline, Massachusetts, United States


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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Identity-based violence, conflict, and discrimination are on the rise worldwide, and democracies face persistent threats to the institutions that protect all members of society, including, most crucially, historically marginalized populations. Facing History and Ourselves and three partnering NGOs will scale powerful educational tools to help teachers and students to think critically about, and confront, the historical legacies of hate and injustice that threaten democracies. Our solution is Facing History’s rigorously tested educational program for teachers, who we believe are key levers of change for generations of students. We will scale our program to reach a critical mass of teachers, students, and the wider community across five locations: Colombia, Northern Ireland, South Africa, and the states of California and Tennessee in the U.S. Our project will empower a global coalition of “upstanders” to build a more just and compassionate world.

Problem Statement

Worldwide, there is an alarming rise in identity-based violence, conflict, and hatred. This large-scale trend exists due to deeply-rooted legacies of discrimination, contemporary issues including fears about globalization and migration, and increasing threats to civil society. Liberal democracy is in crisis. Global norms, institutions, and commitments made in the wake of World War II face unprecedented challenges, with attacks on minority protections, civil liberties, human rights, and press freedom. Truth itself is under assault, as leaders manipulate media and legitimize bigotry and violence. Global problems cannot be sustainably solved without healthy and stable democracies. While we are all at risk, it is the vulnerable and historically marginalized—including racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, and the poor—who are disproportionately affected by democratic decline and related violence. Democracy depends, critically, on people who learn from the past and face the challenges of the present with knowledge and compassion. Schools, as microcosms of society, are ideal environments for promoting informed civic engagement; yet they often fail to teach these essential skills or support teacher development. Teachers are responsible for supporting the social, emotional, cognitive, and civic development of their students, and are themselves shaped by the legacies of the past and current inequities. Over the course of a career, one committed teacher can prepare thousands of young people to combat prejudice with compassion, indifference with participation, and misinformation with knowledge. Yet teachers often lack the skills, confidence, and resources to effectively tackle divisive or taboo social issues in the classroom.

Solution Overview

Our solution will equip teachers to create informed, inclusive, and reflective classrooms across five distinct locations, empowering generations to stand up to hate and catalyze greater participation in democracies.We will provide Facing History’s program including professional development (PD) training, resources, and follow-up support to teachers across locations. At the program’s core are two in-depth curricular units with proven impact: one focused on the steps leading to the Holocaust and one on the U.S. civil rights movement. These units align with curricular requirements in many countries and make meaningful connections between history and the pressing issues that divide us. Facing History’s program is transformative for educators and helps them equip and motivate students to stand up for justice.To reinforce our core program, we will provide training and resources to support a variety of shorter units and classroom content based on local histories, incorporate digital resources and online teaching tools, and launch awareness campaigns to engage the wider community. By 2025, a critical mass of educators in each location will implement our solution, transforming the way teachers and students address identity-based hate and the fragility of democracy.Our evaluation plan will measure students’ and educators’ attitudes, mindsets, and behaviors, and classroom culture. We will also measure active participation in our program; our goal is to reach a total of 141,600 educators, 12 million students, and 74 million community members, representing a saturation point in each location as defined by local teams, and creating pathways for global scale.

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