Excitement is in the air.
The VOW education team has just notified 34 schools and organizations that they’ve been selected to be part of the 2016-17 Sharing History Initiative.
The initiative provides educators, storytellers, and social justice advocates with free books, free curricula, and access to VOW’s nationwide learning community—all to support them in bringing storytelling and social justice-based education into their own communities.
Next week, we’ll be shipping over 800 copies of The Voice of Witness Reader, to schools and organizations all across the U.S.
The 2016-17 cohort includes community college inmate education programs, churches, universities, and many middle and high schools, where the VOW Reader will be used to teach ESL, World History, Global Issues, Journalism, Creative Writing, Media Education, and more.
This year’s initiative is reaching teachers and learners in Tennessee, Texas, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Louisiana, in addition to many in California and other parts of the West Coast.
VOW sends a big thank you to the Germanacos Foundation, the Abundance Foundation, and the Isabel Allende Foundation, whose generous support makes the Sharing History Initiative possible!
Here’s an early peek into who’s participating this year:
Institute of American Indian Arts: Santa Fe, NM
The Institute of American Indian Arts serves Native American and Alaskan native students as well as indigenous students from other countries. Kim Parko, an associate professor, will be teaching a first year seminar in creative writing and has been building curriculum for several years around issues of representation and underrepresentation in the media and mainstream culture. Storytelling and oral histories are also fundamental to Native American cultures.
Tennyson High School: Hayward, CA
Tennyson High School serves a largely low-income immigrant population in South Hayward. Charlie Stevens teaches English in 10th-12th grade and has already used Throwing Stones at the Moon: Narratives from Colombians Displaced by Violence in classes last year, culminating in an online publication of her students’ own oral history work.
Changing Worlds: Chicago, IL
Changing Worlds is a multidisciplinary educational arts nonprofit whose mission is to foster inclusive communities through oral history, writing, and art programs. The programs serve youth across 20 of Chicago’s public schools. The program’s teaching artists and literacy specialists will train and lead students to conduct their own oral history interviews.
PYC Arts & Technology High School: Minneapolis, MN
PYC Arts & Technology High School is a “Contract Alternative Program” for Minneapolis public schools, where students who are unsuccessful elsewhere can enroll. Over 95% of the student population is African American. Cynthia Gomez and her colleague David Boehnke teach English and Social Studies to 9th-12th graders and will collaborate on an oral history project rooted in their students’ experiences and their North Minneapolis community, which has faced many challenges in recent times.
HYPE Youth Media at Muhlenberg College: Allentown, PA
HYPE Youth Media is a program located in the Media and Communication Department at Muhlenberg College that engages college students interested in using media to impact social justice and civil rights issues to work in partnership with local 8th-12th graders in their community. Jenna Azar has already used High Rise Stories: Voices from Chicago Public Housing to help the students understand their own struggles with gentrification in their city.
St. Mark CME Church: Springfield, MA
Savohna J. Smith-Reid has structured a homework help program and history night program at St. Mark CME Church, which serves underprivileged children in a city where the crime rate is constantly rising. All of her students attend predominantly Black inner city schools, where many are battling stereotypes in order to excel academically.
Franklin County Jail / Greenfield College: Greenfield, MA
Revan Schendler works with incarcerated people at a men’s facility in rural Massachusetts, where most are dealing with addiction, histories of trauma or abuse, and profound isolation. Two projects have already emerged that gather and refine testimonies shedding light on the experiences and effects of incarceration on people and their families, and Schendler now co-facilitates two groups based on the Inside-Out think tank at Graterford Prison in PA.