More than half a century after Brown v. the Board of Education declared segregation in public education unconstitutional, schools and communities in the United States are just as segregated as they ever were. Our children are growing up with little to no exposure to those different from themselves which leads to ignorance, fear, prejudice, violence, and more segregation. The Mosaic Project breaks this cycle by reaching youth before negative attitudes surrounding differences become entrenched and enabling them to live with, learn from, and befriend others with whom they would not normally interact.
As recent events flooding the news have made abundantly clear, the need for the life-changing work of The Mosaic Project is pressing and profound.
The Mosaic Project’s innovative approach is unique because:
- We address social-emotional issues within the context of larger systems that perpetuate inequality (such as segregation, prejudice, and discrimination) while providing participants with a profound, personal experience.
- Our primary program, the Outdoor Project, is for elementary school children. Other immersive diversity education programs work with high school and college students or adults. Studies widely agree that children begin to exhibit prejudice between 2 and 8 years old which reinforces the urgency of early intervention in order to prevent prejudice from taking hold. We reach young people before negatives attitudes around difference become entrenched. We assist them in developing the self-confidence and tools to succeed as they encounter more people and more diversity in this new environment and throughout their lives.
- Our Outdoor Project moves children from the classroom environment to a neutral, immersive setting where they are intentionally grouped with students from different backgrounds in a weeklong “master class” in social emotional learning. The experiential curriculum empowers all students to internalize the lessons in diversity, respect, listening, empathy, assertive communication, and conflict resolution. Other social emotional learning programs are classroom based and since many classrooms are segregated, these programs do not enable students to address issues of difference in a diverse setting. Other educational programs set in nature focus primarily on environmental science rather than social emotional learning.
- Our contracts are with schools from markedly different communities, thus we have a broad reach. Diversity-focused summer camps reach only families that already understand the issues being addressed.
- Our intentionally diverse staff also sets us apart. Our staff and partner teachers often remark that our staff is the most diverse they have ever encountered. This allows participants to experience a powerful team from various backgrounds so they can see themselves in these leaders and also be inspired by role models very different from themselves.