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Through this initiative, 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 the communication process and 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.


Stories get told every day, but only some voices get heard.

Through this initiative, we ensure our students’ voices do not go unheard.

2024 Speechwriting Prompt

Stories get told every day, but only some voices get heard.



Whose voices are going unheard in your community?  The U.S.?  The world?  What is missing as a result of their voices not being heard?  Why should we listen to their voices?


Choose a local, national, or global group of voices that you care about and believe are not being heard.  Write a persuasive speech that outlines the importance of hearing those voices and proposes how we can work to hear those voices and listen to what they are asking for.


*Examples of unheard voices may include the homeless, the disabled, prisoners, or those of a minority background (race, culture, religion).



Teacher Resources

The semi-structured curriculum below is ready to be customized by teachers.  We have provided an 8-day curriculum, of 60-minute lessons, that can be used at any time during the month of September.  The remainder of the month is open for the creation, revision, and selection of speeches for schoolwide contests.  The submission period for the speech contest is at the end of the month.

Adjusting to meet your students' needs is strongly encouraged.

If you need the below resources in PDF format, please email us at!

*Lesson plans were designed, in large part, by teachers of the Maya Angelou Academy

Please note: Lesson plans are in google format, but can be downloaded in word here

Please note: Slides are in google format, but can be downloaded in .ppt. All slides for days 1-8 are included. All materials or handouts referenced are linked to in the individual google slides or teacher notes accompanying the slides.

To download the slides as Microsoft PPT, click here.

Speech submissions should include an audio version and a written version.  All written speeches must be submitted using this template. 

*As a reminder, each school may submit a maximum of 3 student speeches.

Learn more about how to host a class/school-wide speech contest and record speeches here.

We have suggestions for in-person, virtual, and paper-based contests!

2024 Calendar

Please note, the lesson days can be customized to best fit your school schedule.

*Remember that you must build-in time to host a school-wide competition to select your school's top speeches for submission.

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1st Place
Pathfinder Program (NE)

2nd Place
Academy for Academic Excellence (TX) 

3rd Place
Sarah T. 
Grande Mesa Youth Services Center (CO)



1st Place
Barboursville School (WV)

2nd Place
Grayson Post (TX

3rd Place
Bernalillo Co. JDC (NM)



1st Place
Barboursville School (WV)

2nd Place
YRTC Lincoln (NE)

3rd Place
Ray of Light (AZ)



1st Place


Wyoming Girls School

2nd Place


Hogan Street (MO)

3rd Place


Maya Angelou Academy (D.C.)

Highly Commendable

K.H. - R.F.K. South Hadley (MA)

J.M. - Wyoming Girls School

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