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About Beyond Differences

Our Mission

Inspire students at all middle schools nationwide to end social isolation and create a culture of belonging for everyone.

Three unique things about Beyond Differences

We are a student-led organization. We believe that change can only be true and lasting if the agents of that change are youth themselves.

We are the only organization singularly focused on ending social isolation. Social isolation is often the precondition to the bullying, teasing and violence that occur too often in our schools and communities. By focusing on social isolation, Beyond Differences helps prevent bullying and teasing instead of reacting to it.

We grew out of the experience of a child. Lili Rachel Smith—the heart and guiding light of Beyond Differences—went through the pain of social isolation. She was determined to keep searching until she could find her place in the world. Thankfully, she found that place at Scattergood Friends School in West Branch, Iowa, before she passed away at the age of fifteen in her sleep. We created Beyond Differences in Lili’s honor and memory.

Invest in Beyond Differences

Today we know that middle school may be the worst time of life for socially isolated students. But there is positive news! Beyond Differences has spearheaded the movement to end social isolation and change the worldview of this issue. Read the 2020 Investment Prospectus to learn about our impact.

Form 990 - 2018 Beyond Differences

National Programs

Know Your Classmates

Our innovative national programs have inspired a cultural and behavioral shift at middle schools and high schools across the country. Join our movement to end social isolation by bringing one or all of these programs to your school.

Know Your Classmates is designed to explore middle school youth's identity and belonging, understand traditions, and recognize stereotypes. Multi-cultural and multi-faith backgrounds are common in today's schools and Know Your Classmates is speaking honestly with children about their feelings and experiences with one another. Know Your Classmates Day is Friday, October 23, 2020!

No One Eats Alone

No One Eats Alone™ teaches everyone how to make friends at lunch, often the most difficult part of the school day. Created and organized by students, this is our most popular program where schools in all 50 United States participate! National No One Eats Alone Day is Friday, February 12, 2021.

Be Kind Online

Be Kind Online is a powerful engagement program for middle school youth, their teachers and families. Focused on creating inclusive communities online, particularly learning to respond to digital gossip to reduce social isolation, Be Kind Online Day is May 14, 2021.

All of our programs encourage taking the pledge to never exclude others, reaching out to someone new, and spreading the word that inclusion is cool!