For ten years, Unsilence has helped more than 15,000 educators, young people, and the public across 16 states to talk about hidden histories and injustices. Our programs and digital content promote critical thinking and empathy to inspire healing and social change.
EDUCATION FOR THE MOMENT FOR A DECADE, UNSILENCE HAS DELIVERED PATHBREAKING HOLOCAUST EDUCATION FOCUSING ON HIDDEN VOICES. THIS LED US TO EXPAND OUR CONTENT TO INJUSTICES TODAY.
Unsilence, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit, came out of research on Holocaust education. Over the years, we have broadened our live programs, educator trainings, and asynchronous digital content to support communities in confronting forms of injustice and violence that are too often ignored. Evaluations of Unsilence programs show that we are meeting our goals to inspire social empathy and community dialogue.
AN INCREASE IN SOCIAL EMPATHY Over time, evaluations of Unsilence programs indicate that more than 90% of program participants report increased comfort with difficult conversations about injustice after completing an Unsilence learning experience. A 2019 Northwestern University study of our programs asked how Unsilence learning experiences affect participant empathy. The study's results showed that both Unsilence online asynchronous learning experiences and Unsilence in-person workshops lead to a statistically significant increase in participants' social empathy.
HOLOCAUST EDUCATION IS SOCIAL JUSTICE EDUCATION The roots of Unsilence are in promoting Holocaust memory and unsilencing hidden Holocaust histories, specifically narratives of antisemitism, Romaphobia, homophobia, anti-Black racism, misogyny and sexism, ableism, and xenophobia throughout the Nazi era. Our programs frame the Holocaust as an extreme case of White Supremacy, demonstrating society's ongoing struggle against prejudice in all its forms.
FOUNDATIONS: BREAKING BARRIERS TO DIALOGUE Through in-person Unsilence workshops and our highly-interactive online content, we support communities to identify institutional, cultural, and personal barriers that prevent us from talking about the injustices of today. Our foundational programs cover a broad range of issues - racism, sexual violence, gun violence, mental health, and more - because specific human rights do not exist in isolation; they are interconnected.
VULNERABILITY THROUGH SONGWRITING An Unsilence affiliated program,The Major Lift (formerly Shameless) is a collaborative songwriting workshop that gives young people tools to experience vulnerability and deal positively with their difficult emotions. Students engage in songwriting to process their feelings of shame and inadequacy - universal emotions that we all experience - that are too often silenced, as well as feelings of resilience and hope. Participants confront personal silencing to prevent the quiet suffering that leads to self-harm and bullying, putting into song what they are often unable to speak.
10 YEARS. 16 STATES. 15,000 PEOPLE. SINCE 2010, UNSILENCE HAS DELIVERED LIVE PROGRAMS TO 3,928 EDUCATORS, 7,274 YOUNG PEOPLE & 4,126 MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC ACROSS 16 POLITICALLY DIVERSE STATES.
273 LIVE PROGRAMS Over ten years, we have delivered a total of 273 Unsilence live programs. Around one third were educator trainings, one third of these were youth workshops for teenagers and college students, and one third were public programs.
Educator Trainings Over a decade, across the U.S., Unsilence has created and delivered educator trainings and additional opportunities for educators to observe Unsilence programs in action. We have trained a total of 3,928 teachers, informal educators, and educational administrators to use Unsilence content in schools and communities, with 3,101 educators trained in the past five years. Each educator we train returns to a classroom or museum with the knowledge to share Unsilence content with young people. Our indirect reach to young people is in the tens of thousands.
Youth Workshops With a direct reach of 5,790 teenagers and 1,484 college students over ten years, Unsilence has supported young people across the country to have urgent conversations about different forms of violence and injustice. In the past five years, our workshops have grown exponentially. From intimate classroom workshops to large-scale auditorium seminars, we have reached 5,866 young people since 2016.
Public Programs We believe that social change requires everyone to pitch in. Through a decade of public Unsilence programs, we have engaged 4,126 adults,including parents and community leaders.
16 POLITICALLY-DIVERSE STATES Unsilence works with schools, museums, youth centers, communities of faith, institutions, and in public spaces. So far we have partnered with more than 115 organizations nationwide. We deliver most of our programs to communities in Illinois, where we're based. Five years ago, we committed to broadening our national reach. Since then, we have delivered live programs to 4,517 people from communities in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Wyoming, and Washington D.C., and many of our community allies bring us back to run repeat and follow-up programs.
Middle Schools & High Schools Unsilence is committed to bringing Holocaust and human rights education to young people across the country. Some of our partners for Unsilence youth workshops include Barrington High (IL), Bernard Zell (IL), Dummerston (VT), St. Joseph's Academy (MO), and Summit Country Day (OH).
Universities & Colleges We support faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates to explore marginalized histories of atrocity and injustice. Some of our program hosts include Oakton Community College (IL), University of Northern Colorado (CO), Northwestern University (IL), and Vanderbilt University (TN).
Museums & Community Organizations Unsilence delivers community-centered learning experiences in informal settings. Some of allies in Unsilence educator trainings and public programs include Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (national), Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center (IL), Holocaust Center of Florida (FL), Holocaust & Humanity Center (OH), and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (national).
MEET OUR COMMUNITY ALLIES
Action Reconciliation Service for Peace, Germany Adler University, IL Alexander Graham Bell Elementary School, IL Anshe Emet Synagogue, IL Anti-Defamation League, USA Arkansas Holocaust Conference, AR Association of Holocaust Organizations, USA Bahá'í National Center, IL Barrington High School, IL Bentonville Family Forum, AR Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, IL Beth Emet Synagogue, IL Camp Nai Nai Nai, USA Carl Wilkens Fellowship, USA Carver Military Academy, IL Casper College, WY Center On Halsted, IL Charles R. Henderson Elementary, IL Chiaravalle Montessori School, IL Chicago High School for the Arts, IL Chicago Literacy Alliance, IL Chicago Public Schools, IL Chicago Women in Philanthropy, IL Civic Education Project, IL Colorado Council International Reading Association, CO ColorBox Theatre, IL Continuum Theater, IL Cradles to Crayons, IL Deer Path Middle School, IL Deloitte, Chicago IL Dummerston Middle School, VT Echoes & Reflections, USA Emmett Louis Till Math and Science Academy, IL Equality Illinois, IL Evanston Storytelling Festival, IL Evergreen Academy Middle School, IL Facing History & Ourselves, IL Feinberg School of Medicine, IL Fiedler Hillel at Northwestern University, IL Frazier International Magnet Elementary School, IL George Washington University, DC Germany Close Up, Germany Goethe-Institut, IL Guild Literary Complex, IL Hanson Park Elementary School, IL Haugan Elementary School, IL High Plains Library, CO Holocaust & Humanity Center, OH Holocaust Community Services, IL Holocaust Educational Foundation of Northwestern University, IL Holocaust Memorial Research & Education Center of Florida, FL Hope For The Day at Sip of Hope, IL Human Rights Campaign, Midwest i-Act, USA Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, IL JCC Chicago Jewish Film Festival, IL Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, IL Jewish Theatre Ensemble, IL John B. Murphy Elementary School, IL John Brown University, AR Joshua D. Kershaw Elementary School, IL Kellogg School of Management, IL The Legacy Project, Chicago IL Mariano Azuela Elementary School, IL Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art, IL The Mercantile Library, OH Mitchell Elementary School, IL Moms Demand Action, IL Mosaic of Westchester, NY National Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference, USA Nicholson STEM Academy, IL Northwestern Community for Human Rights, IL The Northwestern Summer Writers' Conference, IL Northwestern University Press, IL Northwestern University, IL Oakton Community College, IL Ohio Council of Teachers of English and Language Arts, OH Orr Academy High School, IL Peter Cooper Elementary Dual Language Academy, IL Robert R. McCormick Foundation Democracy Schools of Illinois, IL Rowe Middle School, IL Saint Andrew School, IL San Diego Mesa College, CA School of Education & Social Policy at Northwestern University, IL SHARE at University of Michigan, MI Sherman School of Excellence, IL Sidney Sawyer Elementary School, IL Simeon Career Academy, IL Simon Wiesenthal Center, IL Sinai Temple, Champaign-Urbana, IL Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County, NJ South Shore Academy, IL St. Joseph's Academy, MO Stamford Public Schools, CT The Summit Country Day School, OH The Standard Club, IL StoryCorps, IL Sukkat Shalom, IL Temple Sholom, IL Tennessee Holocaust Commission, TN United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, USA University of Arkansas, AR The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, IL University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, IL University of Illinois at Chicago, IL University of Northern Colorado, CO USC Shoah Foundation, CA Vanderbilt University, TN Victory Gardens Theater, IL The Voices & Faces Project, IL Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center, IL Westchester Jewish Center, NY Wilmette Public Library, IL Yad Vashem, Israel
SERIOUS GAMES IN SERIOUS TIMES 2020 HAS BEEN PIVOTAL FOR UNSILENCE. WE PROVED THAT OUR CREATIVE APPROACH TO EDUCATION, ALONG WITH OUR FREE DIGITAL CONTENT, CAN ADAPT UNDER CRISIS.
OUR LIVE DIGITAL EXPERIENCES Before the pandemic, to expand our geographic reach, Unsilence was already delivering live digital programs that reached communities across the country without compromising quality of content. Up until 2019, we had engaged 387 people in 18 live digital programs. This means that, when the pandemic began, Unsilence was already positioned to deliver live digital workshops for young people and trainings for educators. In 2020 alone, 1,082 individuals, including 518 educators, participated in 21 live digital Unsilence programs. Our live digital programs center both learner-driven discussions and experiences structured aroundoriginalserious games. As we come out of the pandemic, Unsilence is ready to pivot to a new hybrid program model, combing in-person and live digital programs to reach politically diverse communities across the country.
ASYNCHRONOUS LEARNING Since our conception, Unsilence has built and delivered asynchronous digital learning experiences to engage young people in hidden histories and injustices today. Throughout the pandemic, more than 12,000 individuals have explored our online content. Our data show that they are invested in our learning experiences, viewing multiple pages per visit. All of our asynchronous experiences fulfill Unsilence's mission to inspire deep empathy and critical thinking about why certain voices are marginalized in our society.
Unsilence Classics Unsilence grew out of research on neglected histories. HIDDEN is a suite of asynchronous learning experiences that shed light on hidden Holocaust histories, including a choose-your-own-pathway mystery, a webquest, an interactive testimony, and a photography exhibit. Just as we struggle to talk about hidden histories, our communities face barriers when confronting contemporary issues of social justice. Unsilence core asynchronous experiences include TOMORROW, a choose-your-own-pathway story, inspired by real events, to help schools talk about suicide and mental health, and OXYGEN, an interactive feature to help parents, teachers, and members of the public navigate conversations with children and teens about different forms of violence.
A New Interactive Exhibit In Fall 2020, Unsilence launched THE SISTERHOOD, an interactive exhibit that tells the stories of mothers in and around Chicago, all women-of-color, whose children were victims of gun violence. The exhibit, which features photographs by acclaimed artist Cecil McDonald, Jr., is unique and groundbreaking; rather than dwell on moments of death, the mothers' stories celebrate their memories and the humanity of their children, as well as the aftermath of gun violence, including family grief, fighting for justice, and supporting each other to reach a sense of healing. After its launch, the Unsilence exhibit received a great deal of press coverage in Chicago, including ABC, Chicago Sun-Times, Fox, and NBC.
A SUSTAINABLE UNSILENCE FUTURE AS WE CELEBRATE A DECADE OF DIALOGUE, WE'RE BUILDING FOR WHAT'S AHEAD. WE RE-COMMIT TO PROVIDING EXCEPTIONAL & ACCESSIBLE LEARNING EXPERIENCES FOR ALL.
At Unsilence, we believe in learning from the mistakes of human history, amplifying the voices of the marginalized, and inspiring communities to speak out and fight for justice. As we start our next chapter, this core belief will continue to inform how we operate as an organization and to help us connect Unsilence live experiences and asynchronous content in pursuit of a just society that values every voice.
OUR NEXT CHAPTER Unsilence has grown into a nimble organization that adapts to and finds opportunity in an ever-changing world. When communities reach out to us, we are ready and able to offer programs suited to their specific needs, whether online or in-person, whether for young people, educators, or members of the public.
Equity of Access We are so proud to offer Unsilence programs to any community, regardless of their ability to pay. Our program fees are structured on a sliding scale, so that our learning experiences remain accessible to all. Each year, approximately 25% of Unsilence programs are delivered pro bono to communities that do not have the resources to cover program fees.
A Flexible Staff Structure Unsilence works with freelance designers to create our content and with freelance facilitators to deliver our programs, both online and in-person. This staffing structure maximizes our flexibility and sustainability as an organization and allows us to respond to the unique needs of our community partners over time.
Minimizing Fixed Costs In trying to direct donations to our program design and delivery, we have worked hard to keep our fixed costs and administrative tasks to a minimum. This means that an overwhelming majority of contributions go directly to our community based education work.
GRATITUDE At the end of every Unsilence newsletter, we say 'We cannot unsilence without you.' We would like to offer our sincerest gratitude to everyone who has supported us along the way.
Support From Northwestern University Over the years, we have been so lucky to work with students, faculty, and researchers at Northwestern University, with whom we have collaborated to design a number of Unsilence learning experiences. In addition, we are so grateful to the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern for hosting many of our live digital programs.
Our Unsilence Community To our volunteers and interns, our donors and supporters, our facilitators, our community allies and partners, our administrative staff, our content designers and scholars, our writers and artists, our pro bono professionals, and our advisors: THANK YOU! We cannot wait to continue our important and urgent work with you long into the future. Together, we can unsilence injustice.
Data analysis by Jack Goodman. Report written and designed by Jack Goodman and Danny M. Cohen. Unsilence, Copyright 2021. All Rights Reserved.