learn / 2015

Facing History and Ourselves Partnership School Network

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Facing History and Ourselves, Inc.

Facing History will engage its LA Partnership Schools Network in a year-long journey to create compassionate school communities and build a stronger, more empathetic LA. The network includes 17 diverse public middle and high schools that infuse Facing History content across grade levels and disciplines to increase students’ ability to relate history to their own lives; heighten their understanding of the origins of bigotry and hatred; and engage them in creating change in their communities.


In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • East LA
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South LA
  • City of Los Angeles
  • LAUSD

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Expand a pilot or a program

How will your proposal improve the following “Learn” metrics?

  • District-wide graduation rates
  • HS student proficiency in English & Language Arts and Math
  • Academic Performance Index* scores
  • College matriculation rates
  • Student education pipeline (an integrated network of pre-schools, K-12 institutions, and higher education systems that prepares students for seamless transitions between high school, higher ed
  • Suspension and expulsion rates (Dream Metric)
  • Truancy rates in elementary and middle schools (Dream Metric)
  • Students perceived sense of safety at and on the way to school (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to learn.

Facing History instruction does not simply nurture students’ academic growth; it provides them with complementary skills for thriving in a diverse, collaborative 21st century economy. The organization’s approach, which is infused throughout Partnership Schools’ culture and curricula, significantly increases student engagement, empathy, critical thinking skills, and sense of civic responsibility. Facing History students are nearly twice as likely to be motivated to learn, more likely to stand up to bullying, and demonstrate significantly less racist attitudes than students in non-Facing History classrooms.

The 17 Partner School communities come together to examine issues that affect all LA citizens. To kick off the 2015-16 school year, students, teachers, administrators, and parents from diverse neighborhoods across the city attended the annual Partner School Summit on Saturday, October 3. This year’s Partner School Network theme is “The Promise of Los Angeles.” The summit featured the film Tom Bradley’s Impossible Dream. This film tells the powerful story of how Mr. Bradley became the first mayor of a major American city without a black majority. Mr. Bradley built a coalition of African Americans, Jews, Whites, Mexican Americans, and Asian Americans who came together in support of common values. After viewing the film, participants examined its lessons and created action plans to reshape or improve their respective school cultures. These projects empower students to be active participants in building inclusive and effective learning environments and communities.

Throughout the year, Facing History Partnership Schools encourage their students to act as “upstanders”—people who take action to address problems in their communities, as opposed to bystanders who do nothing. At the conclusion of the school year, the network reconvenes for the Upstander Celebration, which honors students who have taken positive action in their schools and communities.

The support of LA2050 and contest voters will help Facing History add four schools to the network this year. If brought to scale, the Facing History Partner School Network will not only help enhance the quality of education in LA by 2050, but also build a future generation of compassionate, inclusive, and thoughtful leaders.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

Primary liaisons at each of the 17 Partner Schools will complete a survey (constructed by the Evaluation Team) about their and their colleagues experiences regarding the Facing History school climate initiatives, classroom implementation activities, and network event participation related to the School Summit and Upstander Celebration. This feedback will help inform future improvements to all Partner School Network activity in future years.

An additional measure of success will be the overall renewal rate of Partnership Schools for the 2016-17 school year.

More than 140 internal and external studies have demonstrated Facing History’s positive impact on students. Among many findings, these studies show that Facing History students: have increased understanding and willingness to interact with other ethnic groups; marked decreases in racist attitudes; and reduced fighting behavior.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Education/training
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support