Voices Institute

Empowering Young People to Lift Their Voices
to Advocate for a More Compassionate, Just,
and Free Country and World!

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Table of Contents


1. What Is Lift Every Voice?

Lift Every Voice

Provides Resources and Minicourses to Empower Young People in Our Country and Around the World to Lift Their Voices and to Advocate for a More Compassionate, Just, and Free Country and World!

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."  —"I Have a Dream" Speech by Martin Luther King (1963)

Rev. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" Speech"

". . . a Nation Where They Will Not Be Judged By the Color of Their Skin But by the Content of Their Character."

President-Elect Barack Obama's Election Night Speech

"This Is Our Moment. This is Our Time . . . Yes We Can . . ."

". . . This is our moment. This is our time—to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth—that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America." —President-Elect Barack Obama, Election Night Nov. 4, 2008

Vice President Elect Kamala Harris Gives Her Election Night Speech

". . . every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities."

". . . But while I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last, because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities." —Election Eve Speech by Vice President Elect Kamala Harris (Nov. 7, 2020)

President-Elect Biden Gives His Election Night Speech

"We must restore the soul of America."

"I've long talked about the battle for the soul of America. We must restore the soul of AmericaOur nation is shaped by the constant battle between our better angels and our darkest impulses.

It is time for our better angels to prevail."

—Election Eve Speech by President-Elect Joe Biden (Nov. 7, 2020)


2. How Can Young People
Help Restore the Soul of America?

How can young people help to unify and heal our country?
What are the values that can guide young people—all people—as we build a more compassionate, just, and free country and world?

Lift Every Voice Begins with Democratic Values

Lift Every Voice seeks to help young people understand, embrace, and apply these democratic values as they research major contemporary social an ecological problems and then as they lift their voices to advocate for solutions to these problems—such as stopping gun violence and global warming.

The better angels of our nature are the democratic values that we embrace and which can guide us as we seek to heal and unite our country!


3. Educating for American Democracy

". . . we as a nation have failed to prepare young Americans for self-government."

Educating for American Democracy

Recently a highly recognized, national partnership of academics, teachers, school administrators, and state education leaders, released a set of proposals aimed at educating young people to have the civic virtues, skills, and knowledge to be self-governing. "The United States stands at a crossroads of peril and possibility. A healthy constitutional democracy always demands reflective patriotism. In times of crisis, it is especially important that We the People unite love of country with clear-eyed wisdom about our successes and failures in order to chart our forward path." "In recent decades, we as a nation have failed to prepare young Americans for self-government, leaving the world's oldest constitutional democracy in grave danger, afflicted by both cynicism and nostalgia, as it approaches its 250th anniversary." –The Educating for American Democracy Initiative

Lift Every Voice

The overall goal of Lift Every Voice is to help young people learn the democratic values, skills, and knowledge as well as the critical language and literacy skills they need to be able to lift their voices to advocate for solutions to the most important social and ecological problems in our society. More succinctly, Lift Every Voice seeks to prepare young Americans for self-government. As advocated by Education for American Democracy (EAD), our approach is inquiry-based, problem solving-based, and project-based. We also address all seven themes recommended by EAD. We seek to engage young people in problem-solving that can prepare them to be the leaders of self-government in the future of our country.


4. Voices Institute and Voices Free Online School

Voices Institute is launching the Voices Free Online School which in turn is providing Lift Every Voice to young people and all people anywhere.

5. Three Parts of Lift Every Voice

Lift Every Voice is organized into three parts. Part 1: Democratic Values, Skills, and Knowledge focuses on the core values, skills, and knowledge needed to actively participate in and improve our democratic society. Part 2: Critical Language and Literacy Skills includes the skills that can help young people to tell their stories and deliver compelling speeches. And Part 3: Social and Ecological Problems addresses some of the most important problems in our country and in our world. The first two social problems that we will address are the COVID-19 pandemic and the gun violence crisis in our country. In the future, we will add to this Stop Police Violence and Stop Global Warming. It is our belief that this three-part approach will enable young people to lift their voices to create a more compassionate, just, and free society—free of the pandemic, free of violence, and free of global warming

6. Free Digital Resources and Minicourses

Lift Every Voice will be available in two formats: free digital resources and free online courses. Individual persons can access the digital resources and minicourses and teachers can integrate these digital resources into their own courses.

7. Part 1: Democratic Values, Skills, and Knowledge

In Democratic Values, Skills, and Knowledge, we will focus on five major democratic competencies, beginning with democratic values, the most important competency, and then the various skills and knowledge that young people need to pursue these values in their lives, their country, and their world.

You can click on the slides to see more about each of the five Democratic Competencies.

You can click on the slides below to learn more about each of the eight democratic values. All of the resources are available now as well as the Democratic Values Minicourse. The rest of the courses will be available this fall and winter.


8. Part 2: Critical Language and Literacy Skills

To be able to lift their voices effectively, young people need to master critical language and literacy skills such as the ability to write and tell stories and to write and deliver speeches. This also includes the ability to critically understand and assess the texts and other types of media that are presenting information or arguments about the social and ecological problems they will be researching.


9. Part 3: Social and Ecological Problems

The third part of Lift Every Voice provides young people with the opportunity to explore the social and ecological problems that they care most deeply about. Initially, we will focus on four major problems: the COVID-19 pandemic, gun violence, police violence, and global warming.

Four Problems to Start with: COVID-19, Gun Violence, Police Violence, and Global Warming

Stop the Pandemic (Available Now)

Stop Gun Violence (Available Now)

Stop Police Violence (Available Fall 2021)

Stop Global Warming (Winter 2022)

You can click on the slides below to learn about each of the first four social and ecological problems we are going to address . Stop the Pandemic and Stop the Gun Violence resources are available now. The other resources and minicourses will be available this fal


10. Eight Steps to Lift Every Voice

The Lift Every Voice Social and Ecological Problems Minicourses are organized into eight steps:


11. From Inquiry-Based to Project-Based Learning

The eight steps in Lift Every Voice begin with personally and socially important questions—inquiry-based learning. They then integrate the learning of values (character education), social and emotional skills, civics skills and knowledge, critical thinking skills, and language and literacy skills as young people explore a specific social and cultural problem and then develop their own proposal and speech—project-based learning.

". . . meaningful participants in a vibrant democratic society."

". . . Lift Every Voice . . . seeks to help young persons to develop several skills . . . developing their voices, all of the voices that matter to them, trying to prevent violence in their lives, increasing their academic vocabulary, improving their critical thinking skills, and, finally and most importantly, helping them to improve and to be meaningful participants in a vibrant democratic society."
—Professor Ernest Morrell, Director of the Center for Literacy Education, University of Notre Dame


12. The Three Parts of Lift Every Voice Support Meaningful Participation in Our Democratic Society

In Lift Every Voice, young people choose a social problem that they are deeply concerned about. Then they research that problem and learn the Democratic Values, Skills and Knowledge and the Critical Language and Literacy Skills they need to develop a proposal for solving the problem and to deliver a speech advocating their solution. By advocating and helping to solve major problems in our country and our world, they can become meaningful participants in a vibrant democratic society.


13. The Lift Every Voice Goals

Through participating in the Lift Every Voices Digital Minicourses young people can achieve the following goals:


14. Take a Look at the Lift Every Voice Digital Resources

Our goal is to make Lift Every Voice available to any young person or interested adult anywhere in the world for free.

Lift Every Voice
Free Digital Resources

Lift Every Voice provides free digital resources that you can print, download, share, or embed. Share these resources with you family, friends, colleagues, or people you think might be interested.

Lift Every Voice
Free Digital Minicourse

Lift Every Voice also provides free digital minicourses that you can take on your own or for which you can enroll starting in the fall of 2021. You can view several of these courses now by clicking on the link below.


15. Listen to the Voices of Young People Advocating for Solutions
to Major Social and Ecological Problems

The overall goal of Lift Every Voice is to help young people to lift their voices to advocate for solutions to major social and ecological problems. As an example, listen to the story below about gun violence and then listen to the speech advocating for ways to stop gun violence.

Listen to Gun Violence Stories

Listen to Brissa's story of narrowly missing being in a mass shooting in Denver and then click on the button to listen to other stories.

Listen to Stop the Gun Violence Speeches

Listen to Jordan's speech advocating for ways to stop gun violence and then click on the button to listen to more speeches on our Youtube playlist.

16. Young People Advocating for a More Compassionate, Just, and Free Society!

In Our Country and Around the World!

We envision you, youth anywhere, being able to go online and listen to empowering stories and speeches, share your own stories, deliver your own speeches, and discuss your thoughts with other young people about the best ways to create more compassionate, just, peaceful, and free democratic societies.

". . . the youthful push to make America more just, more compassionate, more equal under the law."

"Our history is defined by the youthful push to make America more just, more compassionate, more equal under the law. This generation—of Parkland of Dreamers, of Black Lives Matter—embraces that duty. If they make their elders uncomfortable, that's how it should be. Our kids now show us what we've told them America is all about, even if we haven't always believed it ourselves: that our future isn't written for us, but by us." —Excerpted from "Cameron Kasky, Jaclyn Corin, David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, and Alex Wind" by Barack Obama. Time (12/12/18)


17. Support Lift Every Voice, Support the Growth of Democracy

How Can We Support the Growth of Democracy?

How Can We Save Our Democracy?

How Can We Restore the Soul of America?

You can support the growth of democracy in our country and around the world by helping young people anywhere gain free access online to Lift Every Voice. Lift Every Voice can help young people to master core democratic and academic competencies with a primary emphasis on using their voices to tell their stories and to deliver speeches advocating for ways to create a more just and democratic society wherever they live. The mastery of these competencies can empower young people to overcome the social obstacles in their lives, to attain important personal goals, and to contribute to creating more compassionate, just, and free societies. The growth of democracy in any one country is limited by the growth of democracy worldwide. The growth of democracy anywhere fosters the growth of democracy everywhere.

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