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Teaching Tolerance Distributes Free Classroom Posters to Encourage Civic Engagement

As part of an effort to help teachers educate their students about the importance of being involved in their community and its power to bring positive social change, the SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance project will offer 10,000 teachers a set of free classroom posters promoting this important lesson.

The effort is the result of a partnership between Teaching Tolerance, the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and Facing History and Ourselves. The set of 11 full-color posters was produced by SITES and uses themes from Choosing to Participate – an initiative by Facing History and Ourselves to encourage young people and adults around the world to think deeply about the importance of participating in a democratic society.

In order to reach the most students with this limited-quantity offer, Teaching Tolerance can only make the posters available to school-based educators.

“Our world is growing increasingly interconnected, which means it’s more important than ever to inspire people to become engaged in their communities and create positive social change,” said Maureen Costello, Teaching Tolerance director. “It also means teachers need the resources to help them achieve this goal. These posters convey a powerful message of respect, inclusion and taking an active role in your community.”

The Choosing to Participate posters present the experiences of individuals and communities, explore the history and impact of racism and prejudice, and encourage viewers to consider the consequences of everyday choices and to make a difference in their own communities. Partnerships, such as this one with Teaching Tolerance, have allowed the posters to be distributed at no cost to schools, libraries, museums and community organizations.

Teachers can order the posters from Teaching Tolerance at

The Choosing to Participate website also features resources, including downloadable files of each poster and links to educational resources for teachers, families and communities.

“When we began this project with Facing History, we could not have imagined that it would coincide with civic protests such as Occupy Wall Street, vitriolic political rhetoric and an overwhelming increase in bullying among school age children across the country,” said Anna R. Cohn, director of the SITES. “Choosing to Participate is a potent resource through which young people can experience hope and an awareness of the fact that only through tolerance and understanding can they build a better world.”

SITES has been sharing Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for 60 years by providing a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history.

Facing History and Ourselves is an international educational and professional development nonprofit organization founded in 1976 whose mission is to engage students of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism, prejudice and anti-Semitism to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry.