Citizen Power Challenge Grant Winners
Fifteen Educators Win ‘Citizen Power Challenge’ Grants for Books
WASHINGTON— Classroom projects such as learning about global cultural perspectives as a way to build compassion, planning a community garden to promote healthy eating, combating bullying, learning American Sign Language and building a health and wellness library are some of the 15 winning projects in the Citizen Power Challenge.
The challenge, funded by the Aspen Institute’s Pluribus Project, is sponsored by the American Federation of Teachers, the Albert Shanker Institute and First Book. Educators and others working with students nationwide were invited to identify an issue and a civic engagement project important to their students, school or community, and how, with the support of books and resources from First Book, their students could take action to address that issue. More than 920 proposals were received.
The 15 winning educators—five each from elementary, middle and high schools—will receive a collection of special resources to help them implement their projects and a $500 grant for use on the First Book Marketplace. First Book offers educators high-quality books and educational resources at deeply discounted prices.
“A big part of education is encouraging our kids to be engaged and informed citizens, and these projects embrace this goal. What I’m most excited about is the lasting effect these projects will have not just on their local communities but also on students’ understanding of their rights, responsibilities and power as citizens. Working collectively on solutions to problems in schools, communities and globally is how we move our nation forward,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers and the Albert Shanker Institute.
“The future of our country depends on igniting young people’s interest in civic engagement and helping them realize they can create lasting change in their communities. Many of us remember educators in our own lives who opened our eyes to our own power to be forces for positive change. We believe these projects, and the books and resources First Book will provide to help them flourish, will help these young leaders advance the causes they are so passionate about. And, by sharing stories about the successes of these projects, others around the country will be inspired to be change makers,” said Kyle Zimmer, president and CEO of First Book.
“In a time of so much cynicism, these student teams show us that it’s possible—and necessary—for everyday Americans to create positive change in their communities. Sometimes it takes young people to remind the rest of the country how to be empowered citizens,” said Eric Liu, executive director of the Aspen Institute Citizenship and American Identity Program.
The 2016 winners:
Racheal Safier, kindergarten teacher at Luis Munoz Marin School for Social Justice in Newark, N.J.
Roberta Brotherton, teacher at Rhodes E. Washington Middle School (K-8) in Philadelphia
Maria Diaz fifth-grade teacher at PS 24 in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Elizabeth Mundt, fourth-grade teacher at Whittier International Elementary School in Minneapolis
Cindy Baxter, after-school program educator with elementary school students in Conneautville, Pa.
Kellyn Holliday, literacy program founder at the Housing Authority of St. Louis County
Lynda Thornton, sixth-grade teacher at Washington Middle School in Meriden, Conn.
Lori DiGisi, seventh-grade teacher at Fuller Middle School in Framingham, Mass.
Claudine James, English teacher at Malvern Middle School in Malvern, Ark.
Thor Snilsberg, executive director of CityScience in Brooklyn, N.Y., and working with several New York City schools
Nancy Barger, teacher at Booker T. Washington High School in Pensacola, Fla.
Kay E. Hones, librarian on special assignment with San Francisco’s Hilltop High School’s Pregnant Minors Program
Harry Brubaker, teacher at John Bartram High School in Philadelphia
Kelly Hams Pearson, teacher at Jackson County Family Court Community Reintegration Group Home in Kansas City, Mo.
Nicole Menold, teacher at Indian Springs High School in San Bernardino, Calif.
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About the Albert Shanker Institute
About the American Federation of Teachers
About First Book
About the Pluribus Project Narrative Collaboratory