About Building Bridges
Chhange’s latest educational initiative, Building Bridges, helps build a culture of mutual respect and understanding—creating a safe, welcoming school community. Piloted last year in the Rumson School District, Building Bridges is designed to work effectively in school districts with diverse socioeconomic populations, ranging from highly affluent to underserved, as well as serving special needs students. Through a close partnership with school administration and faculty, Chhange has developed this year-long initiative to:
- Establish a safe environment for students/individuals to examine difficult topics related to prejudice, bias, and discrimination
- Bring “master teachers” into the classroom to engage students in innovative workshops and provide step-by-step exercises which school faculty can replicate in future years
- Connect students with heroes, leaders, role models from our community and beyond
- Provide relevant professional development to school educators and administrators that fosters a collaborative and integrated dialogue across subject disciplines
Building Bridges grew out of a real need in the community, communicated to Chhange by local middle/high school administrators. Faced with incidents of antisemitism, racism, bias, and hate speech in their schools and on their playgrounds, they turned to Chhange for help.
Based on 39 years of experience, Chhange knows that confronting prejudice and hatred is a process: children need opportunities to reexamine moral dilemmas and challenge their own thinking. Chhange recognizes that students’ repeated exposure to positive role models can have positive life-changing impact. In lieu of a single assembly or classroom activity, Chhange has designed a 10-15 part, year-long experience, which includes in-school classroom experiences, as well as special event programming at Chhange. Through Building Bridges, students engage with texts and materials in innovative ways that build comprehension, further their understanding of difficult moments in history and allow for exploration of related moral dilemmas. Step-by-step exercises are designed so teachers can replicate them in their classrooms. The cumulative effect of the Building Bridges initiative is to change the way students, teachers, and administrators understand their own responsibility to help eliminate hatred and prejudice.
During the 2016-17 academic year, Chhange introduced a prototype Building Bridges program, implemented in the Rumson school district. This program, integrated with teacher lesson plans and aligned with NJ Core-curriculum Content Standards, was further enriched through Chhange educational programming and onsite exhibits. Program topics included:
- Interactive Workshops: Holocaust/Genocide Adolescent Diary excerpts - close reading and dramatic exercises
- Children as Upstanders in Today’s World: Assemblies/Class Discussions
- Holocaust Survivor Curriculum Suitcases: Intensive in-class study of the human experience
- Recovering Memory: The Art of Claire Boren, Holocaust Survivor
- Speaking Anne Frank: Drafting monologues
- Chhange Annual Colloquium (Connects students with heroes, leaders and role models--features plenary session plus breakout workshops)
- Chhange Featured Exhibits (Connects students with Journeys Beyond Genocide: The Human Experience exhibit on Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust, The Genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda, as well as a “Stand Up for Human Rights” section on Current Crises)
To date, the positive feedback from administrators, educators and students and success of the pilot program has underscored the importance and value of bringing this educational experience to additional school districts. Chhange’s Building Bridges initiative is unequaled in the state of New Jersey. It is dynamic in content and vision, demonstrating that individuals (student participants in Building Bridges) can make a difference in the face of hate and bias today. It also serves as a resource for educators across the state to meet the NJ State mandate for Holocaust/genocide education.
Building Bridges, designed as a full-year, multi-session model, is customizable to meet your school district’s needs. Typical fees (excluding transportation costs) range from $12,000 - $35,000, but fee structure may vary significantly, based on a variety of factors including: number of student participants, number of classes and class size, and program combinations selected. Limited grant opportunities are available for underserved schools.
Dale Daniels, Chhange Executive Director at (732) 224-2074 for more information.
This highly successful program is designed to build a culture of tolerance and respect, creating a safe, welcoming school community. In partnership, with your school administration and faculty, Chhange will tailor a series of in-school programs and Chhange programs and events into an individualized year-long program for your school.
Chhange educates, inspires, and empowers individuals to stand up to injustice.