Speak Truth Fellowship

We are seeking educators who are passionate about elevating youth voices.


Speak Truth is a 6-month (January-June 2022) educator fellowship designed to elevate youth voices in Washington, DC. Selected fellows will create Speak Truth discussions with groups of students during out-of-school time through the following process: 

  1. TRAINING: Fellows receive brief, intensive training from Center for Inspired Teaching in the Speak Truth approach – a model for student-led civic discussion that has been in development for more than 6 years. 
  2. PLANNING: Fellows partner with their students to plan a series of after-school Speak Truth seminars; Fellows receive coaching and support from Inspired Teaching throughout the process.
  3. IMPLEMENTING: Fellows host and document at least 3 Speak Truth seminars that are shared with a wider community, serving as examples of what Speak Truth can look like in myriad settings.

Please note, only educators who work within Washington, DC are eligible to participate in this program.

Monday, December 13, 2021 11:59 PM

Decisions Announced
Monday, December 20, 2021 6:00 AM

Why is this program important now?

At a time when students and teachers are struggling to find hope amid the challenges of another pandemic-shrouded school year, Speak Truth addresses academic standards while offering a meaningful place for youth to air their thoughts and feelings. These student-led seminar discussions address young people’s social and emotional needs, while also building critical academic skills.

Young people care about issues affecting them and the world around them. Elevating youth voices is critically important not only for students’ well-being, but for their development as problem-solvers and future leaders. The Speak Truth model offers a way to bring meaningful student-led conversations into any setting where young people gather together – in-person or virtually.

Speak Truth is a program of Center for Inspired Teaching. The program consists of seminar discussions led by students, on topics of their choosing. Through a carefully structured design, the Speak Truth approach positions students as emerging experts and teaches them how to engage in civic discourse around critical issues in their lives and in the broader community.

Today, over a thousand students have participated in Speak Truth. The teachers who have shaped this program have learned what it takes to design a student-centered speaking and listening experience that builds the skills of critical media literacy and civic discourse. These are the skills that will enable our future leaders to fight for social and environmental justice, which is why we think Speak Truth should be a part of every student’s learning experience.

What does a Speak Truth seminar entail?

A student facilitator researches a topic they wish to discuss with peers. They select resources to share on the topic and prepare questions to guide the discussion. Discussions typically last between 45 and 90 minutes and are entirely driven by the student participants. All ideas are welcome, and students learn skills that help them moderate the conversation. The goal is not for students to leave the discussion with a conclusion about the topic; rather, they leave with a widened perspective, an appreciation for different viewpoints, and a desire to learn more. This one-pager offers a play-by-play of the discussion structure. 

What are the requirements of a Speak Truth Fellow?

  1. Sign and submit a written agreement (which includes a signature(s) from your applicable supervisor(s)) committing to full participation in the program. 
  2. Read the Speak Truth Guidebook in its entirety (36 pages). 
  3. Attend a 2-hour Speak Truth Training session on Saturday, January 8, 2022 from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM. At this session you will begin crafting your implementation plan.
  4. Submit an implementation plan to the Speak Truth Teacher Coach by Friday, January 21, 2022 which includes:
    1. A plan for recruiting, selecting, and preparing student-facilitators
    2. A calendar scheduling at least 3 Speak Truth Seminars between February and June of 2022.
    3. A plan for securing student attendance and participation at all scheduled seminars
    4. Goals for participation and outcomes
  5. Participate in at least 3 check-in calls with the Speak Truth Teacher Coach over the course of the Fellowship. 
  6. Take attendance and collect student feedback surveys for each Speak Truth seminar. Submit these to Inspired Teaching for grant recording purposes. 
  7. Arrange to have the Speak Truth Teacher Coach or other Inspired Teaching staff attend and document at least one of the three Speak Truth seminars between February and June of 2022. Permission to photograph must be secured with all responsible parties in advance. 
  8. Provide a written reflection on the Speak Truth Fellowship experience.

What are the benefits of being a Speak Truth Fellow?

  • A $500 stipend upon successful completion of the program. 
  • The opportunity to provide engaging and transformative learning experiences for the students you serve. 
  • Unlimited access to support from the Speak Truth Teacher Coach for the duration of the program. 
  • Certification as a Speak Truth Coach after successful completion of the program – this certification qualifies a teacher to become a Speak Truth professional development facilitator with Center for Inspired Teaching. 
  • Recognition in Inspired Teaching publications and promotions as a Speak Truth Fellow. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to create a special after school program to implement Speak Truth or could I integrate it into something I’m already doing with students after school?

You can absolutely integrate Speak Truth into work you are already doing. We believe adding Speak Truth seminars to your existing afterschool programming is a great way to try something new with your students and strengthen their relationships with each other through this meaningful dialog. That being said, Speak Truth can be an effective weekly stand-alone afterschool program, and Fellows who wish to pursue this route will receive support from our Speak Truth Teacher Coach in crafting a plan for successful implementation. 

How many students do I need to participate?

We are actively seeking Fellows who can serve at least 25 students in their program but will consider accepting applicants who work with smaller groups. An effective Speak Truth seminar must have at least 10 students, though 25 is the ideal number.

What kinds of topics do students choose to discuss in Speak Truth seminars?

Over 1000 young people have participated in Speak Truth seminars, and have selected topics of great importance to them and to their community. Topics have included The Purpose of Higher Education; The For-Profit Prison System; Colorism; Gentrification; Cancel Culture; and Climate Change. More topics, including blog posts detailing the student conversations, can be found at this link.

Can I apply with a colleague?

Yes! Teamwork is always a good idea. If two Fellows work together, we would split the $500 stipend between you both. 

Do I have to hold all Speak Truth sessions outside of school hours?

Yes. The sessions can take place before school, after school, on weekends, or on holiday breaks. 

Is Speak Truth just for high school students?

Yes, though the Speak Truth approach can be used with younger learners, this Fellowship is for educators who work with young people aged 14-18.

I work with young people outside of Washington, DC. Can I apply?

Unfortunately no. This Fellowship is for educators from schools and youth-focused programs in Washington, DC. You may, however, participate in our other FREE programming for educators! Check out our year long calendar of Institutes