Every day in America, almost 50,000 young people wake up in a jail cell. For too long, the education and juvenile justice systems have failed these students. We develop quality educational programs that inspire and engage students held in confinement.
We develop high-quality curriculum in the form of mini-units (initiatives), book clubs, and more. We share these resources at no cost with teachers working inside of juvenile justice facilities across the country.
Our resources offer teachers access to timely and relevant instructional materials they can use as core content or to supplement their school curricula. Our educational initiatives also include national contests.
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Our curriculum mini-units offer opportunities for students to engage in meaningful and relevant project-based learning. These units are intended to be used as core content or supplemental projects and most include a national contest.
Learn more about our individual initiatives, access materials, and view past winners by clicking below.
Math & Financial Literacy
In this 3-day initiative, students will differentiate between wealth and cash in terms of financial well-being. They will then delve into real-world problems around net-wealth, giving them an understanding of essential financial literacy topics and associated mathematical concepts. The initiative culminates in a contest. The math in this initiative is roughly at the level of Algebra I.
ELA, Math & Social Studies
Through this initiative, students explore global issues that impact their lives. Students harness the power of music to create, produce, and share songs that address global issues they are passionate about. The initiative culminates in a national songwriting contest.Through this initiative, we amplify the voices of youth justice.
STEM & Social Studies
Students will uncover a problem and use the design thinking process to create a solution to that problem. Students will use the Design Thinking process to identify a user and learn to empathize with them, define a problem, ideate possible solutions, build prototypes of their solutions, and then test their prototypes to perfect them. The 5-day curriculum culminates in a national design contest.
In Unearth, students become scientists, studying the layers of the Earth and Atmosphere, and applying that knowledge to current climate change issues. Students will learn that climate change is not only a scientific issue but a social justice issue. The Unearth curriculum culminates in a nationwide contest for students to submit 3D models of the layers of the Earth and/or Atmosphere.
Math & Social Sciences (Geography)
In Uncharted, students will use their knowledge of the pythagorean theorem and the distance formula to chart the path of the superthief Carmen Sandiego and discover her hideout--along the way, they'll learn about the world sites where Carmen has been spotted. Uncharted culminates with students helping others to learn about the math formulas they've mastered by creating their own children’s storybook.
Words Unlocked (April)
ELA & Thater/Drama
Words Unlocked is a month-long initiative that includes a seven-day structured poetry curriculum. Our practitioner-ready curricular materials, which include additional optional lessons, culminate with a nationwide competition for poetic works. Far too many young people are locked up around the country. Through this initiative, we continue to ensure that their words are not. View Words Unlocked materials here.
ELA & Social Studies
In Unheard, students explore speechwriting and the importance of using their unique voice to be heard. Students will understand different types of speeches and their purposes; learn about techniques used to make compelling speeches; and understand the steps of putting together a speech from start to performance. The Unheard 8-day curriculum culminates in a national speech contest.
Through Unexplored's 3-day curriculum, students will delve into the math behind NASA and space travel. Students will explore slope and y-intercept and solve linear equations while investigating the risk of bone density loss and oxygen limitations for astronauts. The initiative will culminate with students designing key elements to a successful spacesuit.
Social Studies (Civics) & Art
Students to explore a chapter of James Forman Jr.'s book, Locking Up Our Own. Students learn the origins of efforts to decrease gun violence and delve into current activism around the issue. Students can use the lessons to better understand gun debates of the past and today, informing their personal views about what they and others should do now. The 10-day initiative culminates in a national shoe design contest.
Unbound is a month-long readathon for students in secure settings. At BreakFree, we believe it is critical for students in secure facilities to explore the power of reading at every opportunity; to read for pleasure, not just for a grade; and to develop the habit of reading. Unbound provides a framework and incentives to increase students’ engagement with books.
Science & Social Studies
Students will learn about HeLa cells and the story of Henrietta Lacks. Students will also dive into the ethics behind using humans in research, patient rights, and informed consent. Students will utilize their artistic skills by completing both a sketchnoting activity as well as a self-portrait of either themselves or Henrietta Lacks for submission to our national contest. There are 6 days of lessons included.
Freedom Reads Book Club
Through our partnership with Reginald Dwayne Betts and Freedom Reads, we are sponsoring monthly book clubs. Each month we share free copies of a selected book through a lottery, along with discussion questions and student reflection journals.
Our investors club encourages students to take an interest in financial literacy and planning. Participating schools receive accounts through The Stock Market Game and compete against each other throughout the school year to see who can generate the biggest gains from their investments.
In response to COVID-19, in the spring of 2020, we created an 8-week set of daily lessons for remote teaching. The lessons cover core subjects as well as social-emotional learning.