The goal of the Sharing History Initiative is to foster storytelling in classrooms and communities around the United States. The initiative provides educators, storytellers, and social justice advocates with free books, free curricula, and access to a nationwide learning community through the Voice of Witness Education Program.

This national book placement program will place 1,000 copies of our anthology, The Voice of Witness Reader, in 40 schools and organizations around the U.S. and provide participants with support over the course of one year.

The Voice of Witness Reader includes compelling stories of people impacted by some of the most crucial human rights crises of our time, including individuals living under oppressive political regimes, public housing residents, and exploited workers around the globe.

The Sharing History Initiative is made possible with the generous support of the Germanacos Foundation, the Abundance Foundation, and the Isabel Allende Foundation.

PREVIEW: Click to read a story and see the curricula inside


The Sharing History Initiative is geared toward high schools, community colleges, universities, and education, human rights, or arts-based non-profits. By fostering these relationships, we aim to grow our national network of educators, storytellers, and social justice advocates.

The initiative connects participants with dynamic resources, including:

  • Other Voice of Witness workshops

Am I eligible to apply?

The Sharing History Initiative is open to individuals in the U.S. who work with communities in an educational or advocacy-based capacity. This includes educators at middle schools, high schools, community colleges, and universities, as well as other individuals affiliated with a non-profit or other organization that directly serves a community. What matters most is a demonstrated commitment to working with a community and a desire to educate and promote empathy through storytelling.

What are the goals of the Sharing History Initiative, and how will that impact the selection process?While reviewing the applicant pool, we will consider how the selected applicants, as a group, will reflect the initiative’s goals of:

  • Serving a large geographic range in the U.S.
  • Serving a diversity of schools and organizations, ranging from middle and high schools, nonprofits, community colleges, and universities
  • Addressing the needs of under-resourced public schools

Which book(s) will I receive?

Every school or organization selected to participate in the initiative will receive our new anthology, The Voice of Witness Reader: Ten Years of Amplifying Unheard Voices.

How many books will I receive?

Each participating organization or school will receive a minimum of ten and a maximum of thirty books, depending on the size of the group they will be working with.

When will the books arrive?

The application process closes on July 22, 2016. The selection process will be completed by July 29, 2016. Books will be shipped at no cost to participating schools and organizations during the first week of August.

What kind of support will I get from Voice of Witness once I get the books?

Once books arrive, participating schools and organizations will receive invitations from Voice of Witness Education Program staff to participate in one-on-one consultations or conference calls, and have an opportunity to connect with other educators through the Voice of Witness Learning Community. This national network consists of educators, students, journalists, advocates, community organizers, artists, and more. Participants will also have access to free, downloadable curricula from the Voice of Witness website. 

What does Voice of Witness require or expect in return?

We will require a short, end-of-year report detailing how the books were used, which learning goals were addressed, number of people served, etc. Our expectation (but not requirement) is that participating schools and organizations will contribute to Voice of Witness curricular resources by sharing lesson plans, project ideas, assessment models, work samples, and other demonstrations of how the books were used in classroom and community settings. Participants will also be asked to contribute a post to our bi-weekly blog, I, Witness, which is devoted to exploring essential questions around the teaching and learning of oral history.

What is a Voice of Witness “learning community”?

The short answer is that in a Voice of Witness learning community, everyone is a teacher and everyone is a student. The slightly longer answer is that Voice of Witness learning communities are engaged and supportive networks of individuals and organizations who are committed to the transformative power of storytelling, and share an interest in education, social justice, community building, critical thinking, communication, cultural competency, and more.

When will I find out if I’ve been selected to receive the books?

We will notify selected organizations and schools on July 29, 2016.

Are these books really free?

Yes, they are really free! We’ve received funding from various individuals and foundations in order to offer these books and curricular resources free of charge. Mailing and book shipping costs are definitely covered!


If you still have questions, feel free to contact us at edu@voiceofwitness.org.




“Students saw the larger importance and power of storytelling and felt a great sense of connection to their own oral history work. In addition, the support provided by Voice of Witness has also furthered the sense of community created in the classroom.”

—Lisa Thyer, Amos Alonzo Stagg High School, Palos Hills, IL

“My classes have never been more engaged.”

—Graham Knisley, Valley Prep Academy,
Louisville, KY

“The journalism class at The Academy at Palumbo is Philadelphia is absolutely in love with the narratives in The Voice of Witness Reader. The oral history narrative by Adama Bah inspired all of us to write, direct, and produce our own oral history mixed media projects focusing on defining moments in our lives.”

—Robert Paul, The Academy at Palumbo, Philadelphia, PA

See past and current participating schools and organizations here.

Graham Knisley with his 8th graders at Valley Prep Academy, Louisville, KY