What is Project Soapbox?
Project Soapbox is a public speaking competition facilitated by Mikva Challenge that calls young people to speak out on issues that affect them and their communities. These powerful speeches have lasting, transformative impacts on classrooms, schools, and communities.
What comprises a Project Soapbox speech?
- Soapbox speeches are two-minutes long.
- A soapbox speech is about an issue that the student identifies, not an assigned topic.
- It includes relevant research and evidence on the issue.
- It addresses a specific audience.
- It includes a call to action.
What is the Project Soapbox prompt?
The soapbox speech originates from the days when speakers would elevate themselves to an audience by standing on a wooden crate, or soapbox, to make an impromptu speech about a political topic or community issue. This speech gives the opportunity to persuade the audience to understand, care, act, vote, or speak out on an issue that affects the community.
Mikva Challenge wants you to get on that soapbox and tell your local and national decision makers about an issue that affects your community. Your speech might offer a solution, create awareness, ask the audience or elected officials to act, or call the president to action. In two minutes or less, what is the most pressing issue facing young people today, why is it important, and what should be done to address it?
Is there a Project Soapbox curriculum?
Yes! Click here to download our Project Soapbox curriculum.
Where can I find examples of Project Soapbox student speeches?
You can check out our Vimeo channel for examples of Project Soapbox speeches.
Are you a teacher or student interested in participating in Project Soapbox this year?
- If you are in Chicago: contact Karla Morin-Castilla at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can get involved.
- If you are in DC: contact Justine Hipsky at email@example.com to find out how you can get involved.
- If you are in LA: contact Sheila McMullin at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can get involved.
- If you are not in Chicago, DC, or LA and are still interested: contact Brian Brady at email@example.com to learn about the Soapbox Nation Initiative.
How does Project Soapbox fit in classroom instruction? Project Soapbox is a perfect platform for building classroom community at the beginning of the school year while providing social and emotional learning opportunities for teachers to utilize throughout the rest of the year. In addition, the skills that are critical to a young person’s ability to become an advocate for pressing community issues are the skills that will prepare them for an active and engage civic life. Students are invested and engage meaningfully in the writing and revision process and develop skills in persuasive and argumentative writing, research, speaking, listening, and compelling delivery.
Who can participate? While participation has traditionally occurred in high school Social Studies and English classrooms, students from all grade levels and content areas can participate. Elementary school participation has increased over the last few years, and other content areas such as Art and Science have found a way to leverage youth voice and expertise through Soapbox units.
Do I have to have my students participate in the citywide competition? Nope! You can have students present speeches in your classroom, to family members, or even the school community, without the competition component. The real value is in acquiring an audience – students speeches need to be heard.
I’ve heard about Project Soapbox and Soapbox Nation — are they the same thing? Project Soapbox is the original name of curriculum and our citywide public speaking competition in Chicago. Project Soapbox is part of the Soapbox Nation Initiative, which encourages thousands of students from around the United States to join the debate about the future of our country and to give speeches about youth issues that they would like the country to address.
Winners of Soapbox Nation classroom competitions around the country have a chance to enter into our Soapbox Nation online competition via video submission in lieu of citywide competitions.
Winners of the online competition will have the opportunity to present their speeches to a national audience in DC. Winners of Project Soapbox citywide competitions in Chicago, LA, and DC will also have the chance to attend.