American teachers innovate diversity education with funding from Teaching Tolerance.
Feb. 3, 2005 -- With the help of grants from Teaching Tolerance, educators across the nation are coming up with innovative ways to promote an appreciation of diversity and differences in their students. Last month, Teaching Tolerance issued its one-millionth dollar of grant funding to K-12 teachers.
The millionth dollar made it possible for a middle school class in Valdosta, GA to produce student videos that combine oral history, character education and civic participation.
"This milestone in the Teaching Tolerance grants program reflects the Center's strong commitment to support educators who are faced with the challenge of promoting tolerance in schools and communities and helping young people learn to live together in harmony," said Annie Bolling, who has administered the bulk of the grants.
Nearly 1,000 projects have been funded since the program began in 1997. Among them:
- Third-graders at a California elementary school created "identity quilts" and explored their past, present and future identities;
- A South Carolina middle school began an after-school service-learning project that included reading, anger management, and peer mediation training; and
- A high school class in Kansas started a cultural diversity project that challenged stereotypes and built bridges of understanding by partnering with a Native American school in the region.
According to Bolling, most teachers who apply for a grant are interested in addressing cultural diversity, character education, and bullying. Educator applicants often describe their schools as "low socioeconomic," "high-risk," and "disadvantaged."
The Teaching Tolerance grants program as a whole has helped more than 500,000 young people — about 500 students per project — learn valuable lessons of tolerance and acceptance.
"These projects always add new dimensions to school life," Bolling said. "The affective outcomes — such as encouraging empathy and understanding — would otherwise be ignored in a school environment that places so much emphasis on standardized testing."
With the help of dedicated Center supporters, the Teaching Tolerance grants program will continue to inspire students and teachers across the nation to make a difference in their schools and communities.