2017-18 Educator Grant Guidelines
At Teaching Tolerance, we support educators who embrace and embed anti-bias principles throughout their schools. To demonstrate our support, we are pleased to announce a new project: Teaching Tolerance Educator Grants. These grants, ranging from $500-$10,000, will further our mission by supporting projects that promote affirming school climates and educate youth to thrive in a diverse democracy.
Teaching Tolerance grants will fund three different types of projects: school-level, classroom-level and district-level. At the school and district levels, leadership teams will use the grants to improve school climate, reduce hate, support culturally responsive practices and implement anti-bias curricula. At the classroom level, teachers will use the grants to fund programming that promotes empathy and kindness, positive identity development, perspective taking, critical thinking about injustice and collective action. Whether implemented at the school, classroom or district level, we seek to fund projects that culminate in measurable student outcomes and demonstrable student work.
Our hope is to build, over time, a network of grantees—educators who are enthusiastic about learning from each other and sharing their experiences with the broader Teaching Tolerance community.
Who Is Eligible?
Educators nationwide in public or private K-12 spaces, as well as in alternative schools, therapeutic schools and juvenile justice facilities are eligible to apply. Educators working outside of the U.S., or at community-based, informal learning sites are not eligible to apply at this time.
Q&A With Educator Grantee Jenny Finn
Jenny Finn is a sixth- through eighth-grade teacher at—and co-founder of—a non-profit micro-school in rural Appalachia. Her curriculum, "Courageous Conversations: Learning About Race, Racism and White Privilege," draws from her town's early history. Students learn from local historians about the roots of racism in the area, connecting with activist groups taking local action and visiting significant sites of the civil rights movement.
How did the idea come about to teach a class on racism and white privilege at your school?
We were inspired by a student's senior project last year on racism and white privilege. He started a weekly white privilege study and conversation group and opened it up to the community. That was the seed. We thought, "Hey, this is really powerful and helpful in our community in the rural South."
Our county is 96 percent white. There are subtle racial tensions at the high school. There are Confederate flags flying, and a Confederate rally came through our town recently. We don't have many avenues to talk about this as a community. And we're learning of stories about people feeling they don't belong or do not feel welcome in their hometown because of the color of their skin.
In order to live in a world that's more compassionate and just, we have to start having these conversations-as uncomfortable and awkward and painful as they may be. It feels important for me as a white person to deconstruct what it really means to be white.
How have you structured the curriculum for the class this semester?
We're pulling from the educator and social activist John Greenburg, who teaches about race and racism, classroom dialogue and civic engagement. We also use a white privilege study curriculum put out by the United Church of Christ. We've pulled from several different curriculums to create one that's relevant and appropriate to our community. But we certainly don't enter this like, "Oh, we're experts on white privilege and we're going to deliver content and teach you all what we know." It's more of a collective exploration. We're being transformed by this, too.
We studied the historical context of Woody Guthrie's song "This Land Is Your Land," comparing it to the song "God Bless America." Guthrie's song was a response to "God Bless America," which is very bright and light. Guthrie wrote about immigrants, about people who are hungry and in need. It was a call to action, shining light on some darker places in our culture.
We collaborated with a professor and musician from Radford University, who came down with his guitar and we sang the song together. Students added their own lyrics to the song and we sang them together. … We learned that making music is terribly vulnerable and uncomfortable for people. It's a great way to navigate discomfort.
Then we talked about the personal strategies we use to navigate our discomfort. For instance, students said, "When I get uncomfortable and I breathe, it helps me." Or, "If I am honest about my discomfort, that helps me."
We have the list up on the wall now so we can refer back to it and ask them, "What strategy are you using right now?" "Are you shutting down?"
We used the Let's Talk! self-assessment from Teaching Tolerance. Students answered questions like, "What are you afraid of happening if you bring up this conversation?" "What are your strengths and what are your needs?" "What are your vulnerabilities?" It's generally used with teachers, but I used it with students.
It led to a conversation about the ways in which students are afraid of being exposed. Some of them feel nervous about not knowing enough about the history of the civil rights movement. They feel vulnerable about being judged if they think differently from the group. We spoke about what could help them in their process.
Where is the class headed next?
We're going to look at a piece of music from Hamilton as it relates to Trump's campaign video, Complicit. We're going to look at its messages about immigration.
Next week, we're going to Charleston. The Teaching Tolerance grant is helping to fund that. We'll be visiting a church doing a white privilege study, and the Slave Dwelling Project, which restores old slave dwellings. We'll stay in cabins on the Magnolia plantation. The Project's founder will tell stories about the people who lived in them. We're also going to meet Cleve Sellers and learn about the Orangeburg Massacre. He'll be sharing his firsthand experience of the event. Then we'll be back, diving into immigration again.
How has your class affected your community?
My co-teacher and I connected with a local pastor who is interested in building the bridge between white and black people in our town, because it's very segregated. He's like, "We gotta have opportunities to come together."
There may also be an oral history part of the project, collecting stories about the experiences of black people in our town. We didn't plan on this, but the students are super excited about it. They want to do something that makes a difference in our town. A handful of them spoke at our last class, saying, "I really want to do something that helps Floyd become more integrated."
What do you hope for as an ultimate outcome for the course?
My hope is to collaborate with the church we've connected with. I would like to have a community event with music, food and stories that involves black people and white people in attendance together. I would like for that to become a platform for us to launch something more sustainable, something regular where our community can come together. I really don't want this to be a one-off thing.
What We Fund
School- and District-Level
These projects should be supported by a school or district leadership team. They will focus on improving school climate, responding to and preventing incidents of hate, or embedding the concepts found in the Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards into the school- or district-wide curriculum. These projects may also focus on improving teachers’ capacities to adopt the practices articulated in Critical Practices for Anti-bias Education and in our school climate resources, or to promote dialogue among school and district community members about anti-bias issues at school.
These projects offer teachers the resources necessary to create safe and welcoming classrooms that reflect the outcomes described in the Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards. Preference is given to projects that emphasize student action and promote student voice. We make funding decisions based on the following criteria.
- How do your goals and outcomes align with our program’s vision?
- How is the project relevant to students?
- How are students involved in project planning or execution?
- Who will be served by this project?
- How does the project fill a clear gap in the school’s capacity to serve students?
Sustainability & Support
- What is the commitment from a leadership team?
- How is it expressed by various stakeholders (for example, administration, students, families and school resource officers)?
- How will you sustain the project over time?
- What are you trying to achieve and how will you report results?
- How will you demonstrate the impact of the project?
How To Apply
- Fully review our project criteria, guidelines and FAQs.
- Prepare a short (100-200 words) narrative description of your project.
- Prepare a line-item budget.
- Complete the online application.
Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. You may submit at any time. We hope to respond to your application within four to six weeks.
Questions about the Teaching Tolerance Grants program?
Contact the Grants Manager
January 2018 Select Grant Award Winners
Housing Injustice in New York City
Students will investigate their city's housing crisis by meeting with housing rights activists and people experiencing homelessness. They will train with photojournalists, create photo exhibits and present their work at a public symposium.
Newark Connects LGBTQ Students
This district initiative will raise awareness of LGBT student issues by administering a climate survey, assembling a task force, offering professional development and hosting a district-wide spring ball for LGBT students to celebrate their inherent worth and dignity.
The Speak Up Project
A local education center will engage 50 adjudicated and at-risk youth in an interactive, 12-week public debate series about equity. Students will participate in a mentoring cohort focused on activism, professional development and community building.
Audiobooks for All
Bilingual students, teachers and families will record audiobooks for four seventh-grade novels in the community's home languages of Uzbek, Russian, Spanish and Chinese. Students will be able to access the audiobooks online at home and during class time.
Bridges Not Walls: An Exhibit of Latino Immigration History and Policy in Portland
Students will study national immigration history and policy, visit local museums, speak with curators and create their own pop-up exhibits about the effect of immigration policies on their community.