The UNIS Human Rights Project is an initiative at the United Nations International School (UNIS) that integrates the values of human dignity, equality and justice into teaching and learning. The program is a collaboration between UNIS and over sixty NYC schools, human rights, theatre, cultural and media organizations. The yearlong program is free to all New York City high school students and equips them with the skills to use photography, art and storytelling to advocate for human rights. Throughout the summer holiday and school year, students investigate, document, organize, educate others about local human rights issues and advocate for policy changes.
In an intensive summer institute, participants use New York City as their classroom to investigate one specific human rights issue. They meet with activists, lawyers, academics and policy experts from a variety of human rights organizations and hear the personal stories of those who have been most affected by social injustices.
Students train with documentary filmmakers, photographers and photojournalists. They learn how to use photojournalism to document and raise awareness of human rights violations. They record and transcribe all of the stories and interviews and create a photo exhibit, magazine, documentary or devised theatre piece. The exhibits are created in collaboration with PROOF: Media for Social Justice and are displayed in high schools, universities, photo festivals and at various locations throughout the country.
ORGANIZE, EDUCATE AND ADVOCATE
In the final component of the project, students organize events to raise awareness of the issue and take action to change unjust policies. UNIS hosts an annual public symposium featuring student work, presentations, workshops, guest speakers and a devised theatre performance. New Yorkers interviewed by the students come to the symposium to see their photos, view their stories being performed and share with the audience. Throughout the school year, students volunteer with local organizations working to change laws and policies.
The UNIS Human Rights Project is made possible through collaboration with exceptional social justice organizations and the support of forward-thinking foundations.
Since 2014, students have advocated for human rights in areas of segregation, mass incarceration, immigration, health disparities, police brutality, climate justice, housing, LGBTQ+ and workers rights.
We are grateful for support from the following organizations.
Ali Forney Center
American Friends Service Committee
Ancient Song Doula Services
Arab American Association of New York
Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association
Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI)
Brennan Center for Justice
Brooklyn Community Bail Fund
Community Action for Safe Apartments (CASA)
Catholic Migration Services
Center for Constitutional Rights
Citizens Committee for Children of NYC
Coalition for the Homeless
Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM)
Designing the WE
El Puente Leaders for Peace and Justice
Edward E. Ford Foundation
Fair Housing Justice Center
Families for Freedom
Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE)
Good Shepherd Services
Guns Down, Life Up
Health Equity Initiative
Just Leadership USA
Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center
NAICA Community Center
National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
New Sanctuary Coalition of New York
New York Civil Liberties Union
NYC Coalition to Dismantle Racism in the Health System
New York Immigration Coalition
New York State Youth Leadership Council
Picture the Homeless
Police Reform Organizing Project
Proof: Media for Social Justice
Queensbridge 696 Cure Violence Program
Queer Detainee Empowerment Project
Right to Council NYC Coalition
Safe Passage Project
Social Justice Tours
Street Vendors Project
Teens Take Charge
Vera Institute of Justice
WE ACT for Environmental Justice
Witness to Mass Incarceration
Workers Justice Project
Youth First Initiative