WHY TOUCHSTONES IS COMMITTED TO BUILDING STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS
Touchstones partners with organizations that share a vision of a world where every person has a voice and is an engaged part of a community that recognizes and values diverse perspectives and skills. These partnerships make the Touchstones Discussion Project’s and our mutual work stronger, more effective, and able to foster greater understanding and collaboration among more people. Through partner organizations, Touchstones programming has reached and empowered and benefited tens of thousands of children and adults through improved academic and workforce readiness, experience that their ideas can and do make a difference, continuing professional development among educators, and a sense of community and belonging.
This work is possible only through public gifts to Touchstones that enable us to run programming on-site, create training programs for and train facilitators from partner organizations, offer continuing professional support, develop new program materials for a specific population or region, adapt existing materials, translate Touchstones programs into other languages, and provide partner organizations access to existing materials at little or no cost.
Touchstones programs are in more than 30 countries and have been translated into at least six languages. Here are some of the partners within the United States and around the world who are helping or have helped to bring Touchstones discussions to the populations they serve.
Annapolis Senior Center – Annapolis, MD Touchstones ran free programs for the seniors at the Annapolis SeniorCenter for many years. After moving to Stevensville on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Touchstones now focuses its work with seniors on the Eastern Shore.
Cecil County Public Schools – Cecil County, MD In 2012, Cecil County adopted the Touchstones Discussion Project programming as a central part of the English-Language Arts curriculum for grades 3 through 12. As part of the district’s wide-scale implementation, Touchstones provided pro bono professional services for curriculum coordinators and more than a 100 district administrators.
Chance Academy – Mt. Rainier, Maryland CHANCE Academy is an alternative middle and high school (grades 6-12) education serving urban youth who seek an early college and college preparatory experience that will both challenge and support them in their desire to rise to their academic potential. Touchstones is a central part of Chance Academy’s vision for students who are engaged and successful members of our society.
Civic Leadership Foundation – Chicago, IL CLF’s mission is to develop, fund and promote leadership education programs for youth. By launching and supporting programs, convening thought leaders, and fostering collaboration among organizations committed to leadership education, CLF is empowering the current and future leaders of the 21st century.
Community College of the District of Columbia – Washington, DC The Community College of the District of Columbia (CCDC) serves the City’s residents by integrating workforce preparation, employability skill development, quality education and remediation, economic development and employer linkages, school-to-career training—providing a seamless transition from K-12 to adult education and literacy to college prep—and continuous lifelong learning.
Maryland Correctional Institution at Jessup and Jessup Correctional Institution – Jessup, MD For more than 20 years, Touchstones has been running discussion programs in Maryland's prisons. Funded entirely through charitable contributions from the public to Touchstones, these weekly programs include volunteers from the larger community who co-participate with the prisoners. Unlike other prison programs in which experts or professionals deliver a service to the incarcerated, in Touchstones the participants come together on equal footing to learn from and to teach each other through collaborative exploration of society's foundational constructs.
NAACP - Anne Arundel County Branch – Annapolis, MD "The vision of the Anne Arundel County Branch of the NAACP is to ensure a culture in which all individuals have equal rights and there is no racial hatred or discrimination."
SEED at UVA – Charlottesville, VA "SEED is a passionate group of students committed to fostering sustainable development in communities around the world. We do this by giving free consulting services to NGOs and social entrepreneurs wherever they need us, with an emphasis on sound microfinance. By forging long-term relationships, we are able to increase the efficacy and efficiency of our partners, and intensify the positive social change in their communities." SEED generously provided two teams to work with Touchstones in 2011 and 2012.
Wicomico County Board of Education - Salisbury, MD Touchstones has long been a part of Wicomico County's educational programming to ensure that students are prepared with 21st Century skills. As more emphasis is placed nationally on students' abilities to locate, read and interpret, and evaluate information of various forms, Touchstones programs help teachers to deliver on those goals. Wicomico's Debbie Wilkins, who teaches at North Salisbury Elementary, was selected in 2011 as the Cynthia M. Barry Touchstones Teacher of the Year.
Socratic Seminars International – Seattle, WA Socratic Seminar International's workshops feature Touchstones texts and Touchstones programs are an effective way for teachers to develop a successful seminar environment in which student thinking is central.
Beyond Borders – Haiti Beyond Borders is a national, bilingual, volunteer organization advancing the rights of children everywhere to be free from sexual abuse and exploitation. We are a registered charity without political or religious affiliation.
Beyond Borders is the Canadian representative of ECPAT International, a global network of more than 82 groups in 75 countries. Touchstones programs have been a part of Beyond Borders work in Haiti for more than a decade.
The Children’s Place Association – Haiti The mission of The Children's Place Association is to improve the present and secure the future for children, youth and families confronted by HIV/AIDS or other life-changing health conditions. We serve the vulnerable children and their families in Chicagoland that are infected with or affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In addition, our Residential Center cares for children affected by other life-changing health conditions including among others cerebral palsy, pediatric cancer and severe juvenile diabetes. Touchstones is used to build thinking, communication, and leadership skills within the Children's Place Association's New Ventures Program, which fosters entrepreneurial and civic leadership among its participants while providing essential support services for the families it serves.
Escola Americana do Recife – Recife, Brazil Escola Americana do Recife, or EAR, uses Touchstones across grades 4-12 to strengthen student fluency in English while building speaking, listening, collaboration, and leadership skills.
Ghanaian Mother’s Hope – Ghana Thanks to a local Touchstones prison program volunteer who also volunteers for Ghanaian Mother’s Hope, in 2010, a shipment of supplies from the U.S. to Ghana included Touchpebbles and Touchstones materials for use with mothers and children.
Haiti Partners – Haiti Touchstones has been a part of Haiti Partners’ work since their inception and is a central component of the Circle of Change programming that offers participants a range of tools to create stronger and more effective communities. In this short film about Circles of Change, you can see Touchstones in action in Haiiti.
Ministry of Education – Amman, Jordan Since the early 2000s, Touchstones materials have been used within the Ministry of Education in Jordan to begin preparing their students for increased success in an emerging world. Touchstones is used in Jordan’s schools to overcome student passivity and to help teachers learn new pedagogical tools that encourage creative thinking. As part of Jordan’s education reform act, Touchstones has trained more than 700 hundreds teachers in-country, created teacher training and student program materials specifically for the region, translated existing program materials into Arabic, and made programming available to more than 600,000 of Jordan’s middle and high school students.
Organization for Liberal Education in Georgia – Georgia "We believe that liberal education, an education consisting of careful listening, respect, and thoughtful reflection, is the best foundation for individuals and democratic societies; as such, we conduct programs to connect individuals through cross-cultural exchanges of ideas and human resources between the U.S. and Georgia, all to extend the benefits of liberal education." The Touchstones Discussion Project has provided training and program materials for OLEG at no cost.
Precollegiate Program at the Diplomatic School Yangon – Yangon, Myanmar The Diplomatic School’s Precollegiate Program has used Touchstones since 2002 to prepare students for more effective engagement in a global community. Hundreds of students have strengthened their essential communication and leadership skills through Touchstones programs in the Precollegiate Program. Through the Precollegiate Program, Touchstones has been approved by the Burmese government and has been translated into Burmese. It is currently used in both languages with increasing frequency in Burma.
Southern Africa Environment Project – Cape Town, South Africa SAEP is an award-winning non-profit dedicated to serving children and youth in the impoverished informal settlements (townships) of Cape Town through academic support and personal development programmes. SAEP helps beneficiaries realise their potential by helping them build academic and life skills, prepare for productive employment, and contribute as leaders to South Africa's economic and social development. Touchstones has been a part of SAEP’s programming for more than seven years.