Sidekick will not discriminate in the service of students and educators, recruitment of partners, or any other activities on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin, disability, marital status, or military status.
We also will respect the rights afforded by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in our service of students and educators, recruitment of partners, or any other activities as long as the expression of those rights does not conflict with any laws or our Acceptable Conduct policy.
We screen partners and projects using the process outlined in our FAQs and recommend projects that we believe will maximize the results we care about in pursuit of our mission: student learning and life outcomes. We will not screen professionals on any basis we consider discriminatory as outlined in the policy above. That includes partners and professionals who represent or advocate for groups of people who are legally protected from discrimination, have historically faced discrimination but may not currently receive legal protection, or uphold perspectives that conflict with those of the relevant educational staff, parents, or students.
We hold ourselves accountable to ensuring that personalized, project-based learning authentically connected to the "real world" increases student engagement, improves knowledge transfer, and develops critical real-world skills to provide students the skills, relationships, and aspirations that will help them through and beyond high school.
Barring ideas or behavior that conflict with any relevant laws or our company values, we will enact the approaches that maximize the results of our mission. Working with mission-based and advocacy organizations is one of those approaches. These organizations inherently "take a side" on many controversial issues. Assuming these organizations advocate for their causes legally and in accordance with our company values, Sidekick will not preclude these organizations from project recommendations. In fact, we believe including these projects makes Sidekick a more effective and valuable solution, because they align with many of the practices we do explicitly support.
Sidekick is a private organization that does not take political or religious stances. Instead, we are advocates for our mission: student life and learning outcomes. Given why we recruit the way we do, we inevitably must support the following:
Most courts will interpret the relationship our project partners have with us as a volunteer position. In some states, volunteers are explicitly protected from discrimination as if they were employees, and there is accumulating legal evidence to suggest that courts will continue to interpret Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in this way. As such, we will err on the side of caution. We will screen and recommend all projects using the same, equal process.
We are invested in the safety of our students, teachers, partners, and all school stakeholders. Sidekick does not exist in schools that aren't safe, and promoting violence or abuse of any kind conflicts with our company value of Kindness. Finally, it's a matter of humanity. The fact that we must worry about school safety at all is a very real but very sad problem. Projects that threaten the safety of anyone involved will not make it past our screening process.
Research suggests young adult brains are highly motivated by social and environmental issues, potentially due to the convergence of developmental processes they and their brains are going through: novelty- and sensation-seeking, higher sensitivity to (any but especially) social rewards, and civic identity formation. You might say they are quite literally trying to be "heroes."
As such, working on social and environmental issues drives both cognitive and affective student engagement in ways that the next social media themed project never will. We will focus on providing access to projects that our students find maximally relevant.
Student choice, both in what content a student explores and how they explore it, increases perceived agency, which is crucial to motivation and engagement. Projects are designed to be authentic, which inherently means self-directed, to whatever degree the teacher finds most effective. We nearly always collect student interests via interest inventory surveys when working with schools in order to align project recommendations around student interests.
No community, regardless of the strength of its prevailing majority's opinion, is heterogeneous. Research suggests diversity in classrooms improves learning for both the minority students and those in the prevailing majority, assuming students operate within positive school climates. Meanwhile, the research also suggests that negative school climates have detrimental effects on students within a minority. As pragmatists in pursuit of student outcomes for all students, we strive to incorporate healthy diversity into our project design and seek to do our part in creating positive school climates through minority representation within projects.
Getting along with people who hold differing values is a de facto requirement every day after high school graduation, and it will only become more important in an increasingly globalized future. Once again, we're pragmatists. We do not hold that acknowledging the existence of people who hold differing values is an endorsement of those people. While we don't endorse the values held by any one people group, we do endorse working with those people groups, and in most cases even supporting them in minor or benign objectives. This is how one builds a diverse network that can vault students through complex scenarios like college, entrepreneurship, and the future economy.
Additionally, many of today's skills integrated into our projects require working with or serving the goals of people with differing values. For example, a sub-skill of Critical Thinking is Active Listening. A sub-skill of Active Listening is Judgmental Restraint, withholding judgment of an event long enough to observe it. Rarely in a student's life will they receive a purely objective opinion. They must learn to parse out assumptions, agendas, and persuasive mechanisms (aka "spin"). These skills allow learners to approach a situation that may feel antagonistic as an important educational experience. They can collect multiple data from such experiences and build conclusions for themselves. A prerequisite, however, is to let those experiences accumulate in the first place.
While we do screen for projects that may be questionable or objectionable, we at Sidekick would be failing our schools, their communities, and ultimately our students if we denied access to projects that built, practiced, and tested students' handling of real-world connections.
We will provide an alternative project whenever a project objective could reasonably be considered to contain objectionable content.
A teacher and/or school always reserves the right to deny a project. While our recommendations represent our best attempt at helping you achieve maximum student outcomes, you may always refuse a recommended project. We'll make every effort to accommodate you with alternatives.
Parents and legal guardians always reserve the right to deny consent for a student to participate in a project. Prior to the start of a project, we will always seek parent and legal guardian consent to work with outside adult partners on the chosen project.