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Meet the Team Behind: Rachel’s Challenge

Rachel’s Challenge is a national nonprofit based on the life and writings of Rachel Scott, the first victim in the Columbine High School shooting. Their educational programming helps schools become safer and more connected by stimulating academic and social-emotional learning. Learn more about their inspiring work here!

What is the story behind Rachel’s Challenge?

One month after the Columbine High School tragedy, Darrell Scott, who lost his daughter Rachel in the shooting, was asked to speak before a Congressional Subcommittee on School Violence. Darrell’s message focused on what he believed to be the true root issue: what we are, or more accurately are not, teaching our children in school. Less than a year later, Darrell and his wife Sandy started Rachel’s Challenge to prevent other families from going through what the Columbine families had endured. Their focus was telling students how Rachel deliberately reached out to those who were different from her, new to school, picked on by others, or just lonely; and what a huge difference that made in their lives. They learned that Rachel’s story is a powerful antidote to violence and bullying, and through her example, Rachel’s Challenge is making a positive impact in the lives of millions of people each year. 

Can you tell me about your mission?

Rachel’s Challenge inspires and equips every person to create a permanent positive culture change in their school, business, or community by starting their own chain reaction of kindness and compassion. We have a comprehensive set of age-appropriate programs for K-12, college, and businesses. Our objectives are to continue Rachel’s legacy of kindness and compassion, help schools and businesses to become safer, more connected places to live and learn, stimulate real culture change by actively involving the entire community in the process, change lives by providing culturally relevant social/emotional and mental health training, and increase achievement and ensure results by engaging the participants’ heart, head and hands in self-care and helping others.

What topics does Rachel’s Challenge address? 

Superintendents, principals, teachers, parents, and students bring Rachel’s Challenge into their schools because of escalating problems such as: bullying, student isolation, teen suicide, discrimination, school violence, and increased disciplinary actions. Through powerful presentations, trainings, community events, and professional development, Rachel’s Challenge provides a sustainable solution. Rachel’s inspiring story provides a simple, yet powerful example of how small acts of kindness and acceptance motivate us to consider our relationships with the people we come in contact with every day. Rachel’s Challenge renews our hope that our life has meaning and purpose. Rachel’s story gives us permission to start our own chain reaction of kindness and compassion, which positively affects the climate in our schools and communities.

What impact has Rachel’s Challenge had on schools? 

Rachel’s Challenge has provided evidence-driven programs to over 30 million people since 2001. We have programs in all 50 states and work with between 500-1,000 schools each year. When implemented with fidelity, our partner schools achieve statistically significant gains in community engagement, faculty and student relationships, leadership potential, and school climate; along with reductions in bullying. After Rachel’s Challenge, schools report less harassment and isolation. They see bullying incidents go down and disciplinary referrals decrease. Eight school shootings that we know of have been averted, and students, parents and educators report more than 100 suicides prevented annually. 


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