Human Rights Close to Home

Human Rights Close to Home (HRCH), an initiative created by Dodd Impact Human Rights Programs in collaboration with the Neag School of Education, engages educators and youth in the development and implementation of human rights education. Its goal is to encourage civic action in order to strengthen democracy and respect for human rights in our Connecticut communities and beyond.

About the Program

Human Rights Close to Home (HRCH) draws on best practices in human rights education, teacher professional development, youth leadership development, and democratic engagement. Our goal is to incorporate and support the knowledge and expertise of school and community leaders, educators, community-based civics organizations, and youth leaders in Connecticut. 

HRCH officially launched in July 2023 as a three-year pilot that provides dynamic professional development for teachers that includes human rights content and rights-based approaches to classroom instruction consistent with promoting civic engagement and empowering youth activism.  The initiative supports youth by giving them tools to help in building a sustainable network of young civic engagement leaders who collaborate with community members on creating positive social change and learn from each other. HRCH is interactive and learner-centered. Teacher and student fellows learn and share through collaboration with each other as well as scholars, human rights educators, and practitioners.

The concept for HRCH came about through a conversation between longtime friends Senator Chris Dodd and Shari Redstone, Chair of Paramount Global. They discussed the need for a new Dodd Impact program at a time when US democracy is becoming ever more fragile and engagement in civics continues to decline. Together, they imagined an education program to train teachers to incorporate human rights in the classroom and youth to become human rights leaders. Their goal has been brought to life by establishing HRCH. 

HRCH would not be possible without the vision and support of Senator Christopher Dodd, Shari Redstone, and the Redstone Family Foundation.

In the News

Human Rights Close to Home: A Unique Civics Education Program for K-12 Students, Supported By the Redstone Family Foundation, Launched at UConn

December 12, 2023 | Jaclyn Severance

'I think we fundamentally underestimate how much our kids can learn even about the biggest and most important issues of today. We just need to teach them in ways that are relatable'

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

Our Goals

Develop and implement a novel human rights and civics education model for schools.

Empower teachers with the knowledge and skills to offer human rights and civics learning opportunities in their classrooms, schools, and communities.

Support youth leaders and provide them with experiential learning opportunities.

Support community-level democratic engagement.


Sandra Sirota, Director of Human Rights Close to Home

Sandra Sirota
Director, Human Rights Close to Home
Assistant Professor in Residence, Experiential Global Learning & Human Rights