We Bring the
World Into the Classroom
Beyond the Block is a 501(c)3 educational nonprofit organization that helps at-risk youth:
- Improve global awareness
- Increase intellectual curiosity
- Develop critical-thinking skills
- Complete high school and post-secondary education
Students Are Saying
We can make the world better by treating people equally.
I will remember to be grateful for what I have. I'll remember to think of other people, then myself.
Appreciate what you have... take advantage of all opportunities in life.
The video made me think about how here kids ditch, give up easily, and don't get how they have a chance to make a difference. It made me wanna try harder to graduate and succeed to later help the kids in Haiti.
I have learned to never drop out of school.
The Dominican Republic
Filmed on location, Beyond the Block: The Dominican Republic is an educational travel documentary that profiles the everyday lives of children living in a rural community in the Dominican Republic. Themes include: education, the concept of solidarity, distribution of resources, and realities of rural living.
The target audience for our video learning tools are students at-risk of school dropout in grades 6-12. Through viewing the videos and engaging in accompanying lessons and activities, students will work towards improving their global awareness, building their intellectual curiosity and critical-thinking skills, and increasing their motivation to complete high school and post-secondary education.
This documentary features the stories of children and young adults living in Port-au-Prince who understand life in Haiti not from the evening news but from their own first-hand experience. What were their experiences in the devastating 2010 earthquake? How do they view their lives and culture? What do they make of US military and aid involvement in Haiti? What are their dreams and goals for their futures? The stories of pain, resilience, and hope will not just inspire viewers, but also challenge them to critically examine traditional media representations of Haiti as well as how American policies influence culture abroad. Themes include: education, resiliency, distribution of resources, and international relations.
When our founder, Debbie, traveled to the Balkan Peninsula on a backpacking trip with her friend, she did not expect to make a video out of the trip. But she found herself so inspired by the lived experiences of the people she met there that she had to share the trip with her students. Through a reflection on the Balkan War, students will gain insight into the human suffering caused by violence and be encouraged to explore the connection between media, war, and the use of violence in their own lives. Themes include personal and national effects of war and violence, resiliency, and international relations.
Coming soon: Beyond the Block: Nulato, Alaska.
Identifying the Problem:
A lack of diversity education materials designed specifically for students of color.
During her time working with students at risk of dropout in LAUSD, Dr. Ribera met with countless parents from Mexico and Central America who experienced severe intercultural estrangement from their children. A common refrain heard from parents was: “If only they could see where I was from, they would understand how lucky they are to be able to attend school here.” She also met with students who could barely travel beyond the block their homes were located on due to the risk of crossing into rival gang territory. Others simply had no desire or method to see the world outside of their neighborhood. Beyond the Block was inspired by these students and their parents.
Dr. Ribera began to brainstorm how she could create a virtual travel experience for students that would introduce them to new and different cultures that they might otherwise not have the opportunity to know. Her hope was the same as their parents: that as the students were introduced to the world that lay beyond their neighborhoods, they would be able to recognize the relative privilege they possess compared to the majority of children in the world by virtue of simply residing in the United States. As Dr. Ribera pursued this idea, she saw a gap in diversity education learning materials specifically designed for students of color.
Diversity education, a common curricular requirement in majority-white private K-12 schools and public and private universities, has well-established cognitive and social benefits (Alger, 1998; Gurin et al., 2002, 2004; Nelson Laird, 2005; D. Smith & B. Smith, 2009). However the involvement of students of color with diversity is typically reduced to their usefulness to majority-white institutions in adding population variance. Consequently, little to no emphasis is put on understanding the importance of curricular and social diversity to students of color in either teacher preparation programs or in the classroom itself (Worley, 2011). Students of color, especially those in majority-minority, underfunded urban schools, are then deprived of the immense benefits a diversity education could have in such a high-need setting.
Addressing the Need:
We create diversity education materials specifically designed for urban students of color who are at risk of school dropout.
After extensively reviewing the research on diversity education supplemented with her own experience working with students at risk of school dropout, Dr. Ribera developed the mission of Beyond the Block: to improve global awareness, increase intellectual curiosity, develop critical-thinking skills, and encourage completion of high school and post-secondary education in at-risk youth through the production of educational travel documentary videos, an accompanying curriculum, and other educational opportunities and materials.View Our Annual Reports
Beyond the Block’s team includes professionals in education, business, and media, but most importantly it includes people who are passionate about helping kids and understanding the world!
Meet Our Founder
Debbie Ribera, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO
Meet Our Board of Directors
Katie Moody, M.S.
Rory Olsen, MIPH
We are excited to provide free online global awareness courses for students. Through these courses they will be able to view our educational travel documentaries and complete accompanying activities. Our CEO is currently providing personalized feedback to EVERY student who is enrolled in the course. Please visit us at BTB Academy to learn more and enroll!
In addition to our free classes for students, we provide in-person presentations, curriculum implementation, consultation, and coaching on a fee basis. Our global awareness curriculum is our main product, but we also provide professional developments for staff in diversity education, trauma-sensitive practices, and other related topics. We will offer online classes specifically geared towards educators soon! Please contact us to discuss your school’s needs!
Lastly, we are looking for a place to film our next documentary! We will produce a free promotional video for your organization or school in exchange for your help in allowing us to get to know and understand your community. Contact us if you are interested!
Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Beyond the Block! As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, your donations go right back into the organization, helping to create educational travel videos and curriculum for students who are at risk of school dropout.
Make a One Time or Recurring Online Donation
To make a secure donation of any amount via PayPal, please click the button to the right! You do not need a PayPal account in order to donate.
Sponsor A School Presentation
Do you know of a school that could benefit from our services? You can arrange to sponsor a presentation at that school! Simply provide us with a contact name and number at the school (teacher or administrator). For a donation of $200 we will provide one classroom presentation or assembly of any size. The PayPal donation button to the right will prompt you to donate $200 and give you the space to write the school contact information.
Sponsor a Documentary
Would you like to help Beyond the Block produce their next documentary? Though we are committed to low-budget media production, there are still costs associated with our documentaries, such as air travel, ground travel, equipment, technology, food, and accommodation. For a donation of $500, you will be listed as an Executive Producer of our next documentary and have your name appear in the credits! We will also send you a free copy of the documentary you helped fund! The PayPal donation button to the right will prompt you to donate $500. It will also give you the space to write any contact information you might have for a city, country, person, and/or organization we could visit. Though this may not be the place we end up visiting next, we will absolutely keep you updated on our communications with your contact!
Mail in a Donation
You can send a check to our offices at:
Beyond the Block, Inc.
2622 19th Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94116
We will be sure to send you a receipt for your tax deductible donation!