Jewish Community Relations Councilof San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties


Know Your Classmates

August 16, 2017
Posted by: JCRC Staff

Beyond Differences, whose mission is to inspire students at all middle schools to end social isolation and create a culture of belonging for everyone, is launching their second year of Know Your Classmates. JCRC is honored to be joining again this year as a National Partner for the initiative, which has already been adopted by over 700 schools in over 40 states.

Know Your Classmates is the first of the three annual Beyond Differences Positive Prevention Initiatives for students in middle school. Know Your Classmates takes place in the fall and helps teach students self-awareness and a better understanding of their own unique identities. The focus is on learning to accept, appreciate, value and respect all our differences. The Know Your Classmates initiative consists of curriculum and lesson plans for teachers, student leadership activities and a national awareness day special event (Friday, October 20, 2017) that is fun and easy to bring to any school nationwide.

This initiative is more relevant and, we believe, needed now more than ever! It comes at a time when we see hateful, discriminatory language being too easily accepted in our everyday discourse, even among children as young as elementary school!

Know Your Classmates is based on the 2016 White House initiative, Know Your Neighbors, a coalition of grassroots interfaith and civil rights organizations which was founded to encourage people to share their own beliefs and show mutual respect for others from diverse religions and cultures.

Last year, Beyond Differences collaborated with the Islamic Networks Group (ING) to write Know Your Classmates. Muslim-American children experience frightening incidences of targeting and bullying. ING is the leading organization – with 20 affiliates nationwide – whose mission is to counter prejudice and discrimination against American Muslims by teaching about their traditions and contributions in the context of America’s history and cultural diversity. 

This year, Beyond Differences is proud to announce it is adding a new series of lesson plans to include lesson plans, activities and discussions addressing LGBTQ, undocumented children, English language learners and all marginalized children. The curriculum will reflect the true diversity and population living and going to school in the United States. 

“When hate occurs against any one group or population of kids, it impacts everybody in the school and in the classroom, because then you have an environment of hate,” ING CEO Maha Elgenaidi told NBC News.

Know Your Classmates is completely free of charge! Schools can sign up at to receive an activity kit including all the lesson plans in the mail. PDFs are also available online to download for free.

Call to action: Join the movement today and help end social isolation by spreading the word to middle schools in all 50 states! Today's children will soon become the adults, parents and leaders of tomorrow!

Please share on social media:
Create a world where every child is accepted, valued, and included by their peers. #KnowYourClassmates  

Beyond Differences is a student-led social justice movement and the only organization dedicated to ending social isolation by empowering students to become activists and change the culture of middle school.