The Sharing History Initiative introduces oral history and social justice storytelling to under-resourced classrooms and communities around the United States by providing educators, storytellers, and advocates with free books and free culturally relevant curricula.

This national book placement program has placed 4,200 copies of our books in more than 150 schools and organizations around the U.S. since 2015, and offers a dynamic approach for teaching and learning our most pressing human rights issues.

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


In a political climate that threatens the safety and rights of immigrant communities in the U.S., many educators are searching for resources that address these issues in ways that are culturally relevant and meaningful to the students they serve. To address this need, the 2020-2021 Sharing History Initiative will offer teaching resources and free class sets of Solito, Solita: Crossing Borders with Youth Refugees from Central America. Each set will also include one copy of our methodology book, Say It Forward: A Guide to Social Justice Storytelling.

Applications are open from May 1 – June 30, 2020.


PREVIEWClick to read a story and see the curricula inside


The Sharing History Initiative is geared toward public 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.

See past and current participating schools and organizations here.

The initiative connects participants with dynamic resources, including:

  • Other Voice of Witness workshops

*How might COVID-19 affect the Sharing History Initiative?*

While we anticipate being able to run our book shipment process as scheduled, we will announce any updates to accepted applicants via email. If schools remain closed through the 2020-21 fall semester or academic year, we will ship all books directly to the applicant’s home and they can distribute them as possible. We may also offer e-book versions for communities that can access e-readers in the case of school closures.

Are the 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 also covered!

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:

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

Which book(s) will I receive?

Every school or organization selected to participate in the initiative will receive a set our book, Solito, Solita: Crossing Borders with Youth Refugees from Central America. The set will also include one copy of Say It Forward: A Guide to Social Justice Storytelling.

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

The application process closes on June 21, 2020. We will notify all schools and organizations on July 1, 2020 if they have been accepted.

How many books will I receive?

Each participating organization or school will receive a maximum of thirty (30) books, depending on the size of the classroom or group they will be working with.

When will the books arrive?

Books will be shipped at no cost to participating schools and organizations in early July.

If I’ve participated in the Sharing History Initiative before, can I apply again?

Yes, as long as the book title has changed. If you previously received a set of Underground AmericaThe Voice of Witness Reader or Chasing the Harvest, you are welcome to apply for copies of Solito, Solita. However, priority will go to schools and organizations that meet our initiative’s goals and have not received any books in prior years.

What does Voice of Witness require or expect in return?

We require participation in an online orientation with our VOW Education Associate that will take place in mid-August to learn more about the resources available to you. We require a short evaluation at the end of the year detailing how the books were used (or why they were not yet used), which learning goals were addressed, 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.

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.

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