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Special Project

Special Project
From the 11th Annual Shorty Awards

Speak Truth to Power

Entered in Social Good Campaign


In an effort to ignite a national dialogue about what it means to be a 21st century solution-seeker and human rights defender, Discovery Education and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights launched Speak Truth to Power. The powerful new initiative aims to inspire global citizenry in students and teachers who stand ready to help prevent human rights abuses and violations.

The comprehensive educational suite contains standards-aligned digital resources, video vignettes, biographies and thought-provoking classroom activities to give educators the tools to educate, engage and inspire the next generation of human rights defenders.

Employing first-hand accounts of human rights violations and journeys to resolve them, Speak Truth to Power invites students to examine their own societies, whether that is their classroom, school, community, nation or world. Interactive videos and activities prompt students to put themselves in the shoes of someone who has successfully overcome a violation of their being, instilling a transformative sense of empathy in young adults. Students are then encouraged to create solutions for human rights issues they face, or see others face, by first having conversations. Speak Power to Truth drives home the power that students have in building a better world, so that classroom discussions can become actionable, real-world strategies for alleviating human rights violations.

Strategy and Execution

Human rights education builds awareness, empathy and understanding of the basic rights shared by all people. But that is only the beginning. Every day, people around the world have their rights violated—by invading armies, their own governments, their employers or even their families. Speak Truth to Power engages and empowers students, helping them to recognize and value their own power in making a difference, as they become the next generation of human rights defenders.

Speak Truth to Power offers immersive educational experiences and unique, multi-platform online learning tools including:

-Virtual field trips that immerse students in constructive conversations about meaningful solutions to human rights violations around the world. On December 10th, International Human Rights Day, high school classes can attend the latest virtual field trip, For the Present and the Future: A Conversation on Human Rights. In the company of Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert F. Kennedy and the president of RFK Human Rights, students have the opportunity to talk with notable human rights defenders including Kailash Satyarthi, 2014 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Van Jones, social entrepreneur and CNN political contributor, Jazz Jennings, LGBTQ rights activist and star of TLC's I am Jazz, Darrick Hamilton, Executive Director of the Ohio State University's Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, and Ibtihaj Muhammad, Olympic Fencing Bronze Medalist. Defenders will share their stories of inspiration and answer student questions about what "speaking power to truth" means in their communities.

-Video vignettes about human rights defenders that highlight individual journeys traversed by the defenders who faced human rights violations, like child marriage, abuse and oil pollution. Students can watch profiles of Sonita Alizadeh (Afghanistan), Marian Wright Edelman (U.S.) and Ka Hsaw Wa (Burma) as they recount the injustices they faced, how they overcame them and the legacies they established to fight back against future human rights violations.

-The Defenders: An Interactive Map to visualize the stories of some of the world's most influential human rights defenders and facilitate student exploration of their journeys. Current defenders include the following human rights activists and 10 new defenders will be added each year to continue to add depth and breadth to the program: Sonita Alizadeh (Afghanistan), Marian Wright Edelman(U.S.), Van Jones (U.S.), Wangari Maathi (Kenya), Frank Mugisha (Uganda), Marina Pisklakova (Russia), Kailash Satyarthi (India), Ka Hsaw Wa (Burma), Elie Wiesel (Romania) and Malala Yousafzai (Pakistan).

Together, the Speak Truth to Power program offerings provide a unique opportunity for students to experience human rights journeys—from violation to solution—and through awareness, discourse and advocacy, expand the circle of human rights defenders.


Speak Power to Truth has so far reached engaging more than 78,000 students in critical thinking about human rights violations and strategies for improvement. Educators have kicked off essential conversations about specific instances and individual journeys of human rights problem-solving, downloading more than 1,300 classroom activities and educator guides for presenting and discussing materials in the classroom.

Speak Truth to Power is off to a hopeful start engaging students and teachers in transformative historical conversations, with a total of 78,000 students taking initial steps to access and engage with the program since August of this year. As the program continues to gain traction in educational settings, Speak Truth to Power remains committed to developing constructive materials for students and teachers to explore past human rights journeys and develop preventative solutions going forward.


Video for Speak Truth to Power

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Discovery Education, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights


Entry Credits