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November 15, 2017

Embracing Difference In The Classroom

This year's Facing Difference Challenge is designed to help educators empower young people to reflect and take action towards building understanding, empathy, and peace.


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As you well know, teachers do more for their students than just academic instruction. Every day they assemble young minds to field ideas and help their students acknowledge different perspectives and opinions about the world around them. Directly and indirectly, teachers serve as ambassadors of understanding and tolerance. They cultivate these skills in young people for them to use both inside the classroom and out. And these skills are needed now more than ever.

That's why Students Rebuild, a program of the Bezos Family Foundation, in partnership with Search for Common Ground, CARE, and Global Nomads Group, is asking teachers around the world to participate in this year's Facing Difference Challenge, designed to help educators empower young people to reflect and take action towards building understanding, empathy, and peace.

Students Rebuild

There are over 7.5 billion people in the world all with unique backgrounds, personalities, and experiences. What we wear, what we eat, and what we believe are often not the same. When we choose to avoid or ignore our differences, understanding can be replaced by division. This is happening in ways big and small, from bullying in our schools and clashes in our communities to civil wars around the globe. But engaging with people who are different from us—sharing stories and learning about their experiences—broadens our own perspectives and makes us more creative, innovative, and aware.

Participation in the Facing Difference Challenge is simple and meaningful: Connect, learn, and take action.  

  • Connect: The Challenge asks that teachers register a group of students for free. Within 72 hours, your team will be added to our interactive map of participating teams across the world. Teams have already joined from over 16 countries!

  • Learn: Teachers are then able to choose their learning resources and customize how their team participates in the Challenge. Whether you have one hour or a whole school year, you can build your engagement to meet your team’s needs. To make your journey easy, the Challenge offers recommended roadmaps for teachers to follow, but teachers can also build their own experience using videos and lesson plans as a starting point for exploration of how facing difference can build peace in local communities and around the world. In collaboration with the Buck Institute for Education, this year we have developed two Project-Based Learning Units that explore student agency in peacebuilding.

  • Take Action: By joining the Challenge, teachers and their students will create self-portraits that reflect their sense of identity. Teachers and students can submit their pieces by mail or digitally. Each portrait submitted generates funding from the Bezos Family Foundation—up to $600,000—to support programs run by CARE and Search for Common Ground, helping youth on different sides of conflict build peace in the South Caucasus region, Sri Lanka, and Nigeria.

Teachers, it starts with you! Learn more and register for this year's Facing Difference Challenge. Visit our Facing Difference Portrait album to see photos from participating classrooms!

Students Rebuild works with educators worldwide to support students to take action on critical global issues. Our Challenges invite students to learn about an issue, connect with peers from all over the world, and create a simple, symbolic art piece which the Bezos Family Foundation matches with funding.
Created in January 2010 in response to the devastating Haiti earthquake, Students Rebuild has mobilized hundreds of thousands of students in nearly 80 countries and all 50 United States. These students' efforts have raised more than $4 million in matching funds for projects like rebuilding schools in Haiti, aiding disaster recovery efforts in Asia, supporting livelihoods in Africa, helping Syrian youth from conflict areas recover from crisis, and supporting empowerment opportunities for youth impacted by poverty. 

Bezos Family Foundation Programs and Resources

TheBezos Family Foundation supports rigorous, inspired learning environments. Our investments, along a continuum from birth through high school, aim to elevate the field of education and improve life outcomes for all children.

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