The Heroic Journey: a School Curriculum to Prevent Bullying, Racism, Misogyny, and Homophobia through Early Emotional Education
Pop Culture Hero Coalition
Bullying in all its forms forces 160,000 American kids to miss school each day, severely impacting grades and mental health, often leading to trauma, addiction, and self-harm. Research shows the solution is teaching empathy, inclusion, resilience, and other emotional skills, so our psychologists have created a comprehensive 32-lesson plan for Homeroom, Health, or English classes, equipping teachers and kids so all can learn in safety. Vote to improve schools and save lives.
What does your organization do?
The Coalition is the first 501c3 organization working for real-life heroism over bullying, racism, misogyny, LGBTQ+bullying and cyberbullying, using TV, comics and film, which students find relatable.
Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.
Founder Chase Masterson began mentoring at Homeboy Industries in 2008 and was struck by the huge number of LA-based kids who told her they were bullied into joining gangs. She realized that the issue of bullying always has the same dynamics, whether on the playground, classroom, office, relationships, gangs, or war: oppression & power imbalance.
Then in 2010, she read about a 1st grader named Katie who was bullied for carrying her Star Wars lunchbox to school. All the kids told Katie she was acting like a boy. Katie loved Star Wars, but she sunk into depression and decided to abandon it – until her Mom, Carrie Goldman, wrote a blog post, asking readers to encourage her daughter. They received thousands of messages, including Chase’s. She kept in touch with Carrie and Katie.
Carrie wrote a book which Harper Collins published, “Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear.” It won the Parenting and Mom’s Choice Awards. Carrie asked Chase to help expand her work, and they formed the Coalition to end bullying, racism, misogyny, LGBTQI+bullying, and cyberbullying.
Little Katie’s story - combined with Chase’s experience in LA at Homeboy and a phenomenal team of psychologists & experts - has led to a powerful movement. The Coalition team is regularly told we are saving lives.
2013: We partnered with pop-culture-savvy clinical psychologists; we began community & convention outreach, using stories from TV, film & comics, which kids find relatable, such as Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Glee, Harry Potter & more.
2015: We received our 501c3 status a record 10 days after applying.
2015: Our psychologists and experts began our work in schools.
2015: We partnered with Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence (article:
2015: Our psychologists worked with San Bernardino students in trauma after the mass shooting.
2016: Our team began work on our comprehensive Heroic Journey Curriculum.
2017: Chase spoke at the United Nations Commission on the Status on Women regarding our groundbreaking intersection of pop culture, bullying prevention, and mental health.
2019: We completed the 32-Lesson-Plan Curriculum, and began the pilot in a UNESCO school.
Which of the learn metrics will your submission impact?
- District-wide graduation rates
- Students’ perceived sense of safety at and on the way to school
- Truancy rates in elementary and middle schools
Will your proposal impact any other LA2050 goal categories?
- LA is the best place to PLAY
- LA is the best place to CONNECT
- LA is the healthiest place to LIVE
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
How will your project make LA the best place to learn?
There is a national mental health crisis in schools. Bullying, racism, misogyny, LBGTQI+bullying, & cyberbullying affect countless students, whose lives are often permanently scarred.
Each day, 160,000 students miss school out of bullying-related fear & anxiety. Victims of bullying often suffer from lifelong mental health issues.
Low grades/test scores
Increased dropout rate
School violence & shootings
Students deserve a chance to learn in safe environments.
Our pilot is for Middle School Health classes. We can serve 5 schools (may vary with school size). We survey:
Upon evaluating each class’s needs, we implement our 7-Unit, 32-Lesson Plan Heroic Journey Curriculum, using stories such as COCO & BLACK PANTHER. We have an add’l lesson plan for students who are traumatized re shooting drills.
While bullying is epidemic, it is a symptom, not the root of the problem. The root is a lack of healthy identity in the bully, often due to issues at home. Childhood bullies become adult bullies. The cycle continues.
SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING (SEL) is the process through which children understand & manage emotions, set & achieve positive goals, feel & show empathy, establish & maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. It includes bullying prevention & provides life-long tools.
Research over 20 yrs found that teaching SEL leads to:
Increased attendance & positive behavior
Higher grades, test scores
Admission into higher ed
Quality career placement, personal/work relationships
90% of teachers & 75% of students see that SEL is crucial. It has a disproportionately high benefit for low-income students coping with add’l challenges.
7/19 Enlist schools
8/19 Create behavior surveys
9/19 Send behavior surveys to schools
9/19 Curriculum Co-Creator/Coord Leslie Meiselman conducts teacher training
10/19 Bullying Prevention Month: Begin Curriculum Unit 1
11/19 Units 2&3
12/19 Units 3&4; survey teachers/students for behavior changes
1/20 Units 5&6
2/20 Unit 7
6/20 Make revisions
With Partner SSRE, we will collect data re bullying, attendance, behavior, grades, school climate; will deliver monthly findings to LA2050.
As a global leader, LA owes its children & teens a chance to grow up with a healthy mindset & tools to navigate anxiety, depression & fear, which can lead to addiction & a chronic lack of hope — especially among underserved communities.
To counteract LA’s economic disparity, we must create an environment where students can be taught to navigate the tough circumstances & emotions that come from growing up with inequality.
We speak students’ own language, engaging them toward mental health. Growing the Coalition’s groundbreaking work will make it possible for LA students to LEARN the lifelong skills necessary for healthy, productive lives.
In what stage of innovation is this project?
Pilot project (testing a new idea on a small scale to prove feasibility)
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.
As we mention above, nationally renowned, leading non-profit Social Science Research and Evaluation (SSRE) is partnering with us to provide curriculum research and evaluation in two stages:
1) Curriculum Fidelity
2) Program Impact
Curriculum fidelity will measure whether teachers use the curriculum as its developers intended them to be used in a manner responsive to the learning objectives. The steps in assessing curriculum fidelity include:
Obtain list of key elements in the curriculum from program staff
Develop a checklist to determine whether teachers implemented the program as intended by the designers of the program
Administer the checklist online to teachers after every session
Analyze and report findings
Develop a brief questionnaire for teachers
Administer the questionnaire online each quarter
Conduct two focus groups with teachers
Analyze and report results from the questionnaire and focus groups
Program impact assesses whether behavioral, programmatic, and/or policy changes can be attributed to the curriculum. The steps in assessing program impact include (for both teachers and students):
Develop an online questionnaire
Pilot test the questionnaire on a small sample of students who will not be part of the main survey
Revise the questionnaire as necessary
Administer a pretest at the beginning and a posttest at the end of the program
Obtain school records of bullying for periods before and during the program
Analyze and report results from the questionnaire immediately after pilot
Survey, analyze and report results two months after pilot completion
How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?
- Access to LA2050 community
- Host public events on the topic your organization’s issue area (e.g. access to capital, education reform, clean energy, etc.)
- Communications support, including traditional media, social media, and LA2050 newsletter
- Capacity, including staff
- Strategy assistance and implementation
- Toward the three metrics of creating resilient communities, providing help for mental illness, and lowering the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences, strategic support from LA2050 could assist in us bringing mental health support to school Parent Teacher Association events, de-stigmatizing common mental health issues, such as depression, fear, addiction, and anxiety, in ways that both kids and adults can relate to. Our team currently does similar programs at conventions and in communities. Healthy responses to challenges must be — and can be — LEARNED!
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