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Holocaust education group doubles grants to Palm Beach schools amid rise in hate crimes

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C.M. GUERRERO
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Jose A. Iglesias/El Nuevo Herald

A Holocaust education foundation is substantially increasing its grants to the School District of Palm Beach County (SDPBC) in response to a national rise in antisemitism.

The group inSIGHT Through Education is on track to nearly double its funding to the school district — providing more programming for students than it ever has before. By bringing in more donations, the group has been able to increase its grant awards to the SDPBC and is on track to allocate about $200,000 by the end of the 2023 fiscal year.

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The mission of inSIGHT is to teach kids “to be upstanders not bystanders” through lessons learned from genocides around the world. “We get asked so many times, 'Why didn't anybody stop the Holocaust? Why didn't anyone do anything?'” said the group’s co-president Kelly Warsaw.

The programming the group funds aims to help students combat hate of all kinds and understand “the power of propaganda and fake news and how important it is to have the courage to do what is right," she added.

InSIGHT got its start in Palm Beach County after state lawmakers mandated Holocaust education back in 1994. Since then, Warsaw says the organization’s work has grown to extend beyond the state mandate, helping provide professional development for teachers and age-appropriate instruction on diversity, tolerance and acceptance in kindergarten through 12th grade.

“You teach them the importance of kindness, and respect and acceptance of all,” Warsaw said. “Those are our main tenets. And that is really the reason we do what we're doing.”

The organization arranges for Holocaust survivors to meet with students, purchases library books and teaching materials for classrooms. It also funds trips for students and principals to visit the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

“What we do goes far beyond the Holocaust itself,” Warsaw said. “The lessons that we teach fight all types of hatred and prejudice.”

InSIGHT’s co-president Judy Karp says the group has seen an outpouring of support at a time when hate crimes are on the rise. According to the ADL, the number of antisemitic incidents nationwide reached a record high in 2021.

“As terrible as it is…the awareness of the community has been really triggered that we have to stop it. We've had an enormous amount of people come to us and say, ‘What can we do? How can we make change?’” Karp said. “And we keep saying, we need to educate.”

The 2023 allocation for the Palm Beach County school district is nearly double the group’s largest annual grant so far, and far greater than the 2022 allocation of about $38,000, according to financial statements provided to WLRN.

“We know that the work we're doing is our best ability to combat that hate,” Warsaw said. “Our goal is to continue to increase that year after year. And we're very fortunate that we have a school district that is so supportive.”

Within the next five years, inSIGHT hopes to expand its programming to reach every student in Palm Beach County.

The organization is also hoping to have an impact beyond the school district. The group is hosting a traveling museum exhibit set inside a replica World War II boxcar at locations across the county next month, as well as a series of documentary screenings and lectures on WWII history.

Kate Payne is WLRN's education reporter