Concerns about crime and violence in schools and communities have fueled discussions between families, teachers, and system leaders for many decades. However, in recent years, there has been a growing acknowledgment of the need to involve students in conversations about their safety and well-being.

In June 2023, WestEd, in partnership with Futures Without Violence (FUTURES), organized a retreat for youth and educators at Mt. Eden High School in Hayward Unified School District in the San Francisco Bay Area called “Our Power: Making Space for What’s Possible.” This event sparked discussions within the school community, delving into the topic of power and other themes central to the upcoming Courage Museum.

The Resilient and Healthy Schools and Communities (RHSC) team at WestEd is working on the museum in partnership with FUTURES—an organization renowned for its effective policies, programs, and campaigns dedicated to reducing violence, particularly against women and children.

In 2025, FUTURES will open the Courage Museum in San Francisco to motivate the transformative changes needed to prevent violence in its many forms and promote healing. The Courage Museum aims to ignite courage in the face of personal, interpersonal, and systemic violence both among individuals and within communities and address a wide range of challenges spanning racial, gender, familial, communal, economic, and systemic issues.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, children and adolescents who experience violence, whether as victims, as direct witnesses, or through hearing about incidents, may endure lasting negative effects on their behavioral and mental health. This increased risk includes the potential development of conditions such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the long term.

FUTURES commissioned WestEd to develop an educational program that comes before, connects with, and extends a museum trip for high school students and their teachers. For a museum with complex themes and content like the Courage Museum, the optimal field trip experience is a journey that starts and continues in the classroom. In this context, educators play a pivotal role in supporting students’ capacity to engage with, react to, and learn from their museum visit. To support educators in this role, a key element of the museum’s educational program is a professional learning institute the RHSC team is designing.

Lauren Trout, Senior Program Associate at WestEd, is co-leading RHSC’s work on this project. Trout’s work centers on equity and focuses on restorative justice, harm prevention, and community-driven change.

How did the event Our Power: Making Space for What’s Possible engage participants in themes connected to the Courage Museum? 

We wanted to have young people at the front as experts. We wanted to give them as well as educators a lot of movement and agency and spaciousness. And we really wanted to center their existing relationships as the grounding points to explore some difficult topics…


How do Futures Without Violence and WestEd aim to transform the way students understand violence, courage, and resilience? 

The idea is that this museum will serve as a space for people to explore the role of courage inside of ending different types of discrimination and hate, and particularly in spheres of gender and racial violence.


Why are the insights and experiences of youth critical to the success of the Courage Museum?

This museum experience starts long before they [students] step into the Presidio, right? It’s in classrooms, it’s in curriculum, it’s in conversations, it’s in relationships.


How will the Courage Museum address the complexity of courage?

Courage isn’t just this technical thing that if we follow steps one through three, in this order, we’re going to have achieved it.


How will WestEd’s educational program for the Courage Museum enhance high school students’ museum experience and support teachers?

One of the bigger guiding principles in the design of our educational programming for the Courage Museum is the idea that the conditions for courage come from community.


What’s the purpose of the Courage Museum’s professional learning institute for teachers? 

The Professional Learning Institute, through the Courage Museum, is designed for educators ultimately to build community, to tell stories, to practice courage…


What are the intended outcomes for educators who participate in the Courage Museum’s professional learning institute?

Educators are first people, they’re first humans, and so we want to have a space where they feel a sense of safety and agency…



Lauren TroutLauren Trout is a Senior Program Associate for the Resilient and Healthy Schools and Communities team and leads WestEd’s restorative practices body of work. Trout works with schools, communities, and larger education and justice systems to provide training, coaching, and technical support.

As a restorative justice practitioner, Trout’s work aims to shift trauma-informed practice, social–emotional well-being, and relationship-centered learning from being siloed programs into being paradigms, collective values, and guiding principles that inform and are embedded in structures and organizational culture.