Facing History LA

With LA2050 funds, Facing History will support over 9,000 Los Angeles teachers with timely professional development opportunities, tools and resources for guiding student inquiry into difficult issues and current events, from gun violence to hate crimes to ICE raids. As needed, we will help teachers pivot to distance learning strategies so they can keep students engaged and connected for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. Together, teachers and Facing History will create a strong cohort of informed, compassionate, civically-engaged LA youth.


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

County of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program

What is the need you’re responding to?

Facing History works with educators to inspire students to take an active role in the fight for tolerance and equity in their communities. The need for this work has been clear since long before COVID-19; civic knowledge and public engagement have been declining for decades, while racism, antisemitism and xenophobia have been on the rise. The COVID-19 crisis increases the urgency, as it dampens civic participation by isolating people from each other and has already triggered hateful rhetoric and actions. Anti-Asian racism is making headlines, as are anti-Semitic rants by white nationalist extremists.

While we expect schools to be back in session by fall, there is still considerable uncertainty and concern about the long-term impact of the current disruption. The need for support for educators in this moment is evident; since a statewide shelter-in-place order was announced for California, our webinars have seen record numbers of registrants and live participants.

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?​

Facing History is one of just four programs nationwide listed under the Every Student Succeeds Act as a strong evidence-based program for social emotional learning in high school, and one of just eight listed for middle school. Our proven approach combines social-emotional learning with rigorous academics to help students develop empathy and civic agency. We are poised to deliver professional development, online or in person, that will help educators sustain engagement and social-emotional development during school closures, through the transition back to the classroom, and beyond. Our teaching strategies and content help students address complex topics such as the rise of hate groups, the dangers of stereotyping, and how individual choices shape history. Our Current Events collection includes resources for addressing racism and antisemitism sparked by the spread of COVID-19; one, Coronavirus: Protect Yourself and Stand Against Racism, was recently recommended by the New York Times.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?​

Direct Impact: 9,000

Indirect Impact: 900,000

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

Facing History empowers educators as change agents, providing the skills and resources they need to help students develop social and emotional skills and competencies—building voice, agency, empathy, and pro-social behavior. This work has impact well beyond the classroom: the lessons of history and the tools of critical thinking, civic participation, and empathy prepare students to stand up against hate and bias in their further education, their workplaces, and their neighborhoods. With funding from LA2050, Facing History will join with LA teachers and students to make Los Angeles more inclusive, more tolerant, and more just, with the ultimate goal of building a better, more compassionate world.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has selected Facing History as one of only nine social-emotional learning programs in the US that has a proven positive effect on students, including increased empathy, prosocial behavior, and a better classroom climate. Studies show that Facing History consistently impacts a range of social-emotional dispositions, boosting students’ capacity to:

- Stand up for what they believe in, even when others disagree

- Think critically about issues of racism and prejudice

- Understand and feel for people who are different from them

- Get along well with different types of people

To maximize the number and diversity of students in Los Angeles County who are developing these traits, we must expand the number of LA teachers we are empowering. Therefore, we will gauge our success based on the goals outlined below (baselines for all metrics to be established upon grant award):

- Increase the number of middle school and high school teachers in our LA network by 20% (teachers in our network receive emails announcing new resources, including webinars and Teaching Ideas, described below)

- Increase the frequency of new Teaching Ideas to two per month

- Increase the number of LA teachers who participate in our live webinars by 50%

- Increase the number of LA teachers who complete on-demand webinars by 50%

Which of the CONNECT metrics will your submission impact?​

Social and emotional support

Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?​

LA is the best place to LEARN

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?​

Access to the LA2050 community

Communications support