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Strategy: Southern Poverty Law Center Teaches Tolerance

The Southern Poverty Law Center is a nonprofit organization that confronts hate, intolerance, and discrimination through education and litigation. . . .

The Southern Poverty Law Center is a nonprofit organization that confronts hate, intolerance, and discrimination through education and litigation. Started in 1972 by two local lawyers who shared a commitment to racial equality, the center is now known internationally for its tolerance education programs, legal victories against white supremacist groups, and tracking of hate groups. Located in Montgomery, Alabama, the nonprofit center has more than 500,000 individual donors throughout the country and receives no revenues from government sources.

A leader in the struggle for justice, the Center has achieved victories in and out of the courtroom. Attorneys have battled segregation, protected society's most vulnerable members, and fought hate groups whose followers have violated the rights of others. The center has handled pioneering lawsuits, some reaching the U.S. Supreme Court and many resulting in landmark rulings.

Another initiative of the center includes The Intelligence Project which monitors hate groups and extremist activity throughout the United States. The Project publishes the center's quarterly publication, Intelligence Report, which updates law enforcement agencies, the media, and the general public on the Center's monitoring and investigative activities.

The center also hosts www.tolerance.org, a Web site for kids, teachers, and parents, sharing up-to-date information and news on hate crimes, civil rights, and ideas on how to do something positive to support tolerance throughout the world.

One of the center's education programs, Teaching Tolerance, began ten years ago after research from their Intelligence Project and other sources documented the rising levels of intolerance among young people and their involvement in hate crimes. The center realized it needed to reach out to schools and communities across the country that were interested in fostering an understanding of and respect for differences.

After conducting a six-month study to assess the anti-bias resources available to schools and educators, the center saw a need for educational materials and enlisted the support of its board, donors, and education experts in developing the new anti-bias education project.

Teaching Tolerance supports the efforts of K-12 teachers, educators, and school resource officers to promote respect for differences and appreciate diversity. Teaching Tolerance

  • serves as a clearinghouse of information about anti-bias programs and activities implemented in schools across the country
  • develops and distributes award-winning curriculum packages to schools in the United States and abroad
  • publishes a semiannual magazine showcasing innovative, replicable anti-bias activities and initiatives from schools across the country.

The support of the center's donors has enabled Teaching Tolerance to provide its materials to schools and educators for free. "Our materials are used in more than 80,000 schools across the country and more than 300,000 teachers receive our magazine," said Jim Carnes, Director of the program.

Teaching Tolerance has received accolades from a variety of professional organizations. Its materials have earned two Oscar nominations, one Academy Award, and more than 20 honors from the Educational Press Association of America.

To receive a free copy of Teaching Tolerance's most recent kit for middle and upper grades, A Place at the Table, fax your request on letterhead to 334-264-8891. E-mailed requests will not be accepted. The kit includes a video that tells the story of our nation's struggle to ensure liberty and justice for all and is narrated entirely by young people. Thirteen detailed lesson plans, a teacher's guide, and textbook are also included.

To learn more about Teaching Tolerance or to sample its materials, visit, www.teachingtolerance.org, You may also call 334-956-8200 for more information. The Web site features information on current events, classroom resources, tips for parents and kids, and much more.

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