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Closing the Gap

Street Law, Inc.

Over 40 years of educating about law, democracy, and human rights

An initiative in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S. to teach African American youths about the importance of civil rights history, its impact on their rights and responsibilities, and how they can be active, engaged members of their communities.

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How the Programs Work

This initiative is being implemented in select elementary, middle, and high schools in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S. Through a three-tiered approach, African American students will learn about civil rights and advocacy with an end goal of developing a deep understanding of the importance and impact of the civil rights movement and how they can be active, engaged members of their communities.

Three programs make up this initiative: 

  • Breakfast with a Civil Rights Legend encourages upper elementary school students to take pride in their community and recognize the impact that community leaders—or “civil rights legends”—have on justice and equality.
  • Youth Act for Change teaches middle school students about civil rights and public policy issues and the advocacy steps they can take to create meaningful change in their communities.
  • The Civics and Civil Rights Institute for Teachers is a three-day professional development institute for high school social studies teachers to improve and enrich their teaching about law, democracy, and civil rights.

Throughout the course of this initiative, which runs November 2011 through October 2014, more than 3,000 upper elementary and middle school students will participate in the programs. Additionally, the high school teachers trained in the Civics & Civil Rights Institute will pass their knowledge on to approximately 5,000 students each year.

These programs will help students develop a number of essential skills such as advocacy, communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking, which will better equip them to overcome challenges and improve their lives. Students will also benefit from the exposure to positive adult role models. All three initiatives will involve community leaders—professionals, judges, lawyers, and activists—who will share their experiences and expertise. 

Note: Due to the scope of the grant providing funding for Closing the Gap: Civic Leadership for Youth, participation is limited to schools in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S.

Lesson Plans

In May 2015, Street Law hosted a series of webinars on policing and the rule of law. Below is sampling of the lesson plans developed for participants in these webinars.

These lessons are appropriate for use in high school classroom settings.

Please contact Lena Morreale Scott with questions about these lesson plans.

Breakfast with a Civil Rights Legend: Teacher Materials

From 2011–2014, Street Law operated a series of Breakfast with a Civil Rights Legend programs in elementary and middle schools. We've assembled a Teacher Handbook to help classroom teachers who are interested in replicating this program in their own schools. 

Photo Albums


Closing the Gap is made possible by all the volunteers who power the programs and the schools who invite us to participate in the lives of their students. 

Breakfast with a Civil Rights Legend (inactive program)

Civics & Civil Rights Institute for Teachers (inactive program)

  • Hari Jones, assistant director and curator of the African American Civil War Freedom Foundation and Museum
  • Michael Hussey, exhibits and education specialist at The National Archives