About SSTS

The International School of Global Citizenship

From the Executive Director

In our first decade Students Shoulder-to-Shoulder has enrolled over four hundred high school students in dynamic, experiential courses in global citizenship. What started with a few teachers taking twenty-seven students to do service-work in three settings has evolved into a comprehensive education-based approach to inspire and support generations of global citizens and ethical leaders.

Each year, we now send over one hundred high school students and course instructors from across the nation to trusted NGO partners working on four continents. This good fortune is generated from inspiring relationships with our Global Schools Coalition, NGO leaders, business partners, philanthropists, and alumni – All working as an organization of partners, creating shared value in service of the global good.

We begin our next decade with less entrepreneurial trepidation yet with the same zeal to create a sustainable model for addressing humanity’s most pressing needs. For us, the answer is to inspire and support the next generation as ethical leaders. And we have come to understand that the best strategy to execute this mission is to invite all stakeholders to join us as partners.


Our impact is measured in the context of cherished relationships with our NGO partners. Though grounded in what we can measure empirically (e.g. buildings built, water filters installed, community projects advanced), it flourishes and finds its transcendent meaning in creating dignity across cultures and/or nations.

Our mission directs us toward a universal, long-term impact driven by the inspiration and support of global citizenship and ethical leadership. Although we are only finishing our first decade, we already have alumni whose career ambitions (e.g. medicine, law, international relations, business, and finance) have been inspired, even shaped, by their experiences with SStS.

We seek impact to a degree and of a nature that is self-sustaining: impact on high school students influences their future selves and, in turn, impacts the globe through ethical leadership in businesses, organizations, institutions, and communities.

Our Story

SStS essentially began with a question: what can we do? As classroom educators striving to teach our students about many of the pressing problems that exist in the world, as well as potential solutions for addressing them, students were understandably led to ask: what can we do? SStS was created to provide them with an avenue to explore real-world answers to this question. By partnering with organizations that are actively implementing grassroots solutions in the communities that they serve, we strive to provide high school students with models for how meaningful change can occur.

Our first year of programming in 2007 engaged thirty participants with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in three diverse settings (India, Nepal, and New Orleans). NGO staff, students, and course instructors returned inspired by their experiences and confident that the goals of SStS were both noble and attainable. In the program’s second year, our participants represented five schools from two states. During the summer of 2009 SStS added Kenya to our destinations, expanded its course instructor training program, and enhanced the depth and quality of the curriculum resources used for each course.

Students Shoulder to Shoulder became a tax-deductible 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization in 2009. Shortly after, the Global Schools Coalition (GSC) was formed. In 2012, SStS offered six programs on four continents to students from fourteen different schools. Seven innovative schools from around the U.S. had also joined the GSC. By 2015, SStS had grown to offer 10 different courses in global citizenship serving nearly 100 students per year.



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