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Ending Racism Starts in Middle School

A Statement from Beyond Differences
June 19, 2020

Our country is experiencing the worst social and economic upheavals of the last 50 years. The issues of race, economic inequality, disparities in health and education, and, police violence have been laid bare to a polarized public. The impacts of these realities continue to affect all of us, as a diverse community and as allies. As a non-profit organization that serves future generations, Beyond Differences stands firm against the injustices affecting our society, especially our children.

For over ten years, Beyond Differences has stood as the organization - in partnership with now over 6,100 schools across every state in our country from Alabama to Washington State - leading the movement to end marginalization and social isolation of all children through its school-based curriculum, youth activism and student leadership opportunities.

We’re proud of the fact that 60% of the schools we work with are designated Title 1, and that we have real community representation on both our adult and teen board of directors.

We deplore the current status quo in the area of education, especially as it relates to children of color, who are being both educated and measured through a school system that does not provide enough tools and training for teachers and children in general, but especially on racism and trauma. We must ensure that all children receive the knowledge and education that they will need to be competitive in our complex world. We must change the culture of school to one of acceptance, inclusion and respect for one another no matter our differences in race, ethnicity, religion, sexual and gender identification, documentation status, socio-economic status or special needs.

Our next generation of leaders, now only 10 - 13 years of age, deserve to attend schools where caring for their mental health and wellness is of higher value than police presence on campuses which results in too many children ending up in the criminal justice system.

And, finally, our mission to bring Beyond Differences - a free Social-Emotional Learning curriculum -- to all middle schools across our country will always be our most important endeavor until all schools are inclusive and all children feel safe.

Signed by the Board of Directors and Executive Director

Gale Mondry, Chair
Miguel Bustos
Kerri Catalano
Tonia Coleman
Vetra Davis
Ken Gosliner
Carolyn Hambleton
Larry Krause
Ed Lehrman
Alan Loving
Jacqueline Neuwirth
Wade Rakes
Joe Salesky
Michaela Simpson
Ace Smith, Co-founder
Evie Talmus
Lisa Towne
Jennifer Traeger

Laura Talmus, Executive Director and Co-founder

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!