Amidst efforts to restrict teaching about race and identity, Facing History & Ourselves connects young people to factual history

CREDO grantee Facing History & Ourselves provides training, teaching strategies, and classroom resources that help teachers engage young people in connecting factual history—in all its depth and complexity—with their own lives and identities. 

In September 2022, CREDO members voted to donate $23,625 to support Facing History’s work to help educators across the country nurture students’ analytical skills, empathy, academic engagement, and civic agency—even amidst efforts to restrict teaching about race, identity, and other vital aspects of American history and life. 

Powered in part by the generosity of CREDO and our members, Facing History & Ourselves had some recent victories and launched some great new initiatives. Here’s a quick report on how your donations are making an impact:

Recent Victories

Since receiving the CREDO grant, we have continued to expand our powerful Teaching for Equity and Justice (TEJ) professional learning series. For example, we designed and launched a new TEJ workshop specifically for school leaders and instructional leadership teams. Data from 2022 post-TEJ workshop surveys showed that 97% of respondents felt empowered to create more equitable learning environments in their schools.

Funding from CREDO and other donors has also enabled us to continue producing and disseminating timely and relevant lessons on current events. Each lesson suggests activities teachers can use in the classroom right away to address specific events and issues in the news, and includes articles to read, videos to watch, or other materials. 

Since receiving the CREDO funds in September 2022, we have published the following lessons on our website:

The Supreme Court, Trust, and Political Partisanship (October):

When Online Speech Has Real Consequences (November):

Influence, Celebrity, and the Dangers of Online Hate (November):

The World Cup: Activism, Upstanding, and Free Speech (December):

Responding to the Earthquake in Turkey and Syria (February):

The Ethics of Generative AI in the Classroom (March):

One other highlight has been that regional Facing History Student Leadership Groups (SLGs) have been able to start meeting in person again after a long hiatus during the pandemic, when all meetings were online. This school year, there are active Facing History SLGs in Northern California, Cleveland, and Memphis. While each SLG is unique, they are all extracurricular student groups, advised by teachers, where young people can come together, celebrate their diversity, learn from and inspire each other, build leadership skills, and work together for social change. 

New Initiatives

Facing History is in the midst of a multi-year initiative to develop bold, thought-provoking, academically challenging curricular content designed to disrupt dominant narratives in US History and English Language Arts classrooms. These include teaching materials designed to uplift diverse perspectives, and promote deep analytical thinking about history, literature, current events, and civic responsibility. In March, they released a new six-lesson unit, “I Wanted the Whole World to See”: The Murder of Emmett Till. Created in partnership with the Till Institute, this unit focuses on the pivotal choices of Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, and the impact those choices had on a generation of Civil Rights activists.

Our curriculum, informed by our expertise in adolescents’ intellectual and social-emotional development, leads to a strong study of civics by focusing on identity and equity and weaving in opportunities for students to “live civics” through action projects integrated into classroom lessons.

We are currently piloting the model in partnership with the New York City Department of Education to help schools meet the requirements of the New York Seal of Civic Readiness.

If you’d like to learn more or get involved with Facing History & Ourselves, please visit their website, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram