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Informing and Engaging Youth to Combat Antisemitism

Facing History and Ourselves is pleased to request funding for a powerful educational initiative benefiting the Jewish community by impacting youth in the Greater Toronto Area. Through this initiative Facing History will help young students recognize and combat antisemitism by training those who work with them every day: their teachers. This grant will support the attendance of 170 educators at a seminar or workshop where they will be trained to use the lessons of the Holocaust to boldly teach students the dangers inherent in racism, prejudice, and most importantly, antisemitism. Facing History will facilitate two seminars and four workshops that will provide teachers with high-quality resources using a variety of primary sources, scholarly commentary, related texts, and new media tools. Following the sessions, educators will receive ongoing support services including consultations for lesson planning and school visits for observation of the implementation of this program, as well as access to our extensive collection of free online and print resources. In addition, in the first year of the program, the topic of the history of antisemitism will be brought to the greater community through a public event. A grant from UJA Federation’s SixPoints Jewish Venture Philanthropy Fund will enable Facing History to provide Greater Toronto Area youth with the tools they need to create an environment that is intolerant of antisemitism and racism- where students recognize acts of antisemitism and respond appropriately.

Need: 

There is a pressing need in Canada for programs that address antisemitism to young audiences. Statistics Canada documents a 42% increase in reported hate crimes from 2008 to 2009. Of religiously-motivated hate crimes that occurred in Canada in 2009, 71% were committed against the Jewish faith, a substantial increase from 2008.1 Data from Canadian police in 2006 show that youth (12 to 17 years) were more likely than older age groups to be accused of a hate crime.2 With hate crimes on the rise, and inter-group violence prevalent in schools and larger society, schools must help students develop the awareness and skills they need to live and work productively and safely with others who are different from themselves. At its root, the work of Facing History is to give the next generation an understanding of the experience of vulnerable groups in society, understand the power and danger of prejudice, and combat it through their everyday choices. A recent study of our work conducted by outside evaluators illustrates that Facing History students demonstrated significantly greater awareness than control group students of the power and danger of prejudice and discrimination in the past and present, and particularly of the dynamics of antisemitism.3 With Greater Toronto Area youth and the Jewish community keenly in mind, Facing History proposes this project with both excitement and urgency.

1 http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/110607/dq110607a-eng.htm
2 http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85f0033m/2008017/5200141-eng.htm
3 46% of the Facing History students increased their awareness of antisemitism versus 18% of the control group students. This difference between groups on this measure is highly statistically significant: p =.0001; effect size = .70.

Goals, Objectives & Measurement: 

Facing History’s anticipated output for this project is 170 teachers trained, while anticipated outcomes are to impact teachers’ confidence and competence in bringing difficult subjects such as antisemitism into the classroom as well as increasing students’ understanding of civic engagement and awareness of racism and prejudice. For this project, we will survey teachers immediately after the trainings, and later after they have taught the material, about its impact on them, on their teaching, and on their students. Pre and post-training surveys will be designed to measure how well the project has enhanced teachers’ perceived skill and confidence in their ability to present and address racism, prejudice, genocide, and citizenship in their classrooms. We will also measure teachers’ perception of students’ increased academic and civic engagement. Facing History has the ability to carry out these measurements through experienced evaluators on our U.S. partner’s staff. Over the years our evaluation staff joined by independent researchers has carried out more than 100 studies of our programs worldwide.

Opportunity for Involvement: 

As an emerging organization in Toronto we would greatly benefit from SixPoints JVPF’s vast catalogue of opportunities including technical assistance and fund member experience. Specifically, we could improve the quality of the project with additional public relations, media networking, and social media expertise. It would also be of great asset to collaborate with others who have expertise in the field of teaching and education. One of our goals for this prospective grant is to build community awareness through the tools mentioned above. It is important for the hard work of the teachers and students involved in this project to be recognized by their community and be part of a safe environment for sharing and dialogue. In addition, sustainability of our organization is dependent on the health of our board. Facing History is always looking to expand and diversify our advisory board.

Time Frame: 

This project will take place from January 2012 to December 2013. We have planned the following exit strategy for this grant: This project will become a critical piece of our work moving forward. We will conduct ongoing fundraising and outreach to replace funding received from SixPoints JVPF. We will strategically profile this grant in order to leverage funding from other sources for replication of the project with new teachers in additional districts

Sponsor/Staff: 

In Toronto we have two full-time staff members who together strategize, plan, and run our local programming. Our director Leora Schaefer has a B.Ed. from the University of Winnipeg and a Joint Masters of Arts from the Horstein program at Brandies University in Jewish Communal Leadership and Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. Our Program Associate Jasmine Wong earned her M.A. in Education policy, organization and leadership at Stanford University and her B.Ed. from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.

Organizational Structure and Expertise: 

Facing History in Canada is a partner of Facing History in the United States. Our projects in Canada utilize the expertise of staff in Brookline, Massachusetts for fundraising, budgeting, and evaluation of our program. This is also the case for Facing History’s seven regional offices in the United States and United Kingdom. We have 96 trustees, 34 of whom are directors, and 302 regional advisory board members. Our board in Canada includes 12 devoted members who act as ambassadors for Facing History and create valuable community and program contacts. Leora Schaefer and Jasmine Wong are an extremely capable team. In three years they have transformed a pilot project into a highly functional and reputable office that has trained more than 600 educators. Given their track record in reaching educators, partnering with district school boards, and securing critical funding from various sources including the Government of Canada, they have the skills necessary to execute this exciting project. A grant from SixPoints JVPF would cover critical costs that allow our staff to leverage its expertise.

Criteria that Enhance Competitiveness: 

Our project is innovative in that it disseminates both content and methodology to teachers, while most educational organizations attempt one or the other. Also innovative is the fact that our content looks at the events leading up to the Holocaust as a tool for understanding and impacting antisemitism today. This project will also include the teaching of our forthcoming resource, A Convenient Hatred: A History of Antisemitism, which is comprised of new scholarship and will be paired with cutting edge teaching strategies in our trainings. This book will also be the focal point of the public event. Facing History has a deep working relationship with the Toronto and Peel District School Boards as well as emerging relationships with Toronto Catholic, York Catholic and Public, and Durham District School Boards. These existing and emerging relationships will yield opportunities to sustain and replicate this project upon its completion and significantly increase our scale by multiplying our numbers of teachers taught and students reached. We estimate that the group of 170 teachers we will reach through this project will reach 12,000 students each year for the rest of their careers as educators. This grant would leverage a multi-year project that is partially funded by the Government of Canada. Facing History’s partnership with the Federal government has enabled us to secure funding opportunities and educational partnerships. As recognition of our organization continues to grow we will have the opportunity to work in more districts throughout Ontario and beyond.