Our Education Mission

Americans Who Tell the Truth has a wide range of educational applications.  From elementary schools to graduate programs, AWTT’s mission is to offer learning opportunities that encourage students to become engaged and courageous citizens as they address issues of social, environmental, and economic justice.  From drama and visual arts departments to schools of citizenship and public affairs to high school law classes to middle school social studies classrooms, AWTT deepens and expands students’ engagement with the long narrative of Americans’ struggle to live up to our stated ideals.  

AWTT provides educators with curriculum materials that ask students to grapple with truth, justice, and freedom, helping them understand the paths they must take to ensure democracy. The portraits and accompanying biographies both inform and motivate students of all ages, acting as guides and inspiration to pursue truth, justice, and action.  As Zinn Education Project Director Bill Bigelow states, “AWTT is able to 'story' American social justice advocates that celebrate and bring them to life for generations to come."

Read more about three of our primary education initiatives below.

Speaking Truth to Youth:

Our Speaking Truth to Youth short video series offers both youth and adults the opportunity to hear directly from AWTT portrait subjects - what led them to become activists, what guides them, where they find hope and courage, and what advice they have for young people today. AWTT’s living portrait subjects share the essence of who they are and what feeds their souls. They say it best: “a responsibility to act,” “each new person is an inspiration,” “some people go to sleep at night but I stay up and dream,” “follow what you love,” “give children a seat at the table.” AWTT believes in the power of art and story to motivate people to action. Now, with the spoken words of truth tellers, we've added a powerful dimension, bringing these portraits to life. Browse the videos

Samantha Smith Challenge:

In 2003, Americans Who Tell the Truth honored Samantha by painting her portrait. In 2014, AWTT continued to honor Samantha with the Samantha Smith Challenge (SSC) - a dynamic educational program for Maine middle school students designed to build a bridge between the classroom and the world.  Over 300 Maine middle school students each year take on the Challenge, becoming curious, knowledgeable, and engaged citizens in the process. SSC projects teach students that, no matter what age, they can be part of solving the challenges and problems they see around them just as Samantha Smith did nearly 40 years ago. Learn more details here


engagEd is a resource for educators who wish to teach the tools of engaged citizenship and involve students in solving the world’s problems. AWTT invited the portrait subjects and the organizations that represent them, their ideas, and legacies, to produce lesson and activity plans that could be used in middle or high school classes to build bridges between the classroom and the most important issues affecting student’s lives. These lessons are created by changemakers with strong opinions. AWTT’s staff has edited and curated these activities and lessons to offer educators and their students a window into the thought processes, lives, and dedication of activists who work for economic, social, and environmental justice.  Find a free curriculum offering that might interest your students