Research shows that 28 percent of students ages 12 to 18 years old report being bullied at school, and 24 percent in the same age group report being cyberbullied. These are sad and scary statistics! We want school to be a place our kids can learn and grow, challenge their imaginations and build lasting friendships, not be nervous about being teased or harassed while just trying to figure out who they are.

This is why, for the 3rd consecutive year, Gordmans is proud to have teamed up to promote ADL’s No Place for Hate® initiative. Throughout the month of August, you can make a $1 or more donation at your local store. The goal is to help eradicate hatred, prejudice and bullying as students and teachers settle into another school year. We’ve connected with Jennifer Smith, Director of Program Operations & Special Initiatives at the Anti-Defamation League, and Jason Sirois, National Coordinator for No Place for Hate, to get some extra insight into the program and why it’s making a big difference in kids lives.

What is the No Place for Hate program all about?

No Place for Hate® is designed to create inclusive school communities and to empower schools to challenge all forms of bigotry. By participating in No Place for Hate, schools have the opportunity to create a safer learning environment, promote unity and respect, and reduce bullying, name-calling and other expressions of bias. No Place for Hate schools are committed to implementing school-wide anti-bias and community-building programs, as well as addressing incidents of hate and bullying when they happen, with the support of ADL resources and award winning A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute programming.

How do you make the message relevant for both kids and teens?

ADL worked hard to find a brand that resonated with people of all ages; No Place for Hate® is the outcome of that research. Couple the coolness of the logo with the flexibility of the initiative and you have a message that students can tailor to the needs of their own schools, whether it’s learning how to respect differences at the kindergarten level through the use of literature, or challenging microaggressions at the high school level using MTV’s Look Different Campaign, of which ADL was a partner.

How does the program help set kids up for success?

We know that bullying can affect academic success, so the presence of No Place for Hate at a school is the first step in creating a climate where every student has a place to belong, respect is the baseline, and students can thrive academically. One of the strengths of No Place for Hate is the focus on student engagement. When students, of all ages, have an opportunity to be part of the planning and implementation of activities that address issues of bias and bullying, there is an ownership of the outcome that leads to lasting change. We like to think of No Place for Hate as a catalyst for creating the next generation of social justice advocates.

What’s one of the most meaningful things you’ve seen come out of the NPFH program?

One of the challenges of anti-bias and anti-bullying work is to change the social norm that says it’s not cool to step up and be an ally. With No Place for Hate, schools are changing that norm. We hear stories of students standing up to challenge each other’s behavior with statements like, “That’s not cool. We’re No Place for Hate.” If a student feels safe to be an ally in their school, we consider that a success.

Any new goals for the future of NPFH?

This year, ADL and the No Place for Hate initiative recognized Lady Gaga and the Born This Way Foundation with the “Making a Difference Award” for their commitment to creating a braver and kinder world. No Place for Hate will continue to recognize the work of celebrities and local community activists in an effort to create a network of allies that inspire students around the country to make a commitment to step up against bias and bullying in their schools and communities. No Place for Hate is a movement that we hope to continue to expand. Creating an ever-growing network of schools where hate has no place is a big job, and ADL cannot do it alone. Working with incredible partners like Gordmans helps maximize the impact and provide tools to more and more schools. We hope that more companies will join Gordmans’ lead and take the challenge to become No Place for Hate partners.