Compel America Presents: Step Back, Speak Up!

Program Focus

Step Back, Speak Up is a 12 sessions-based approach to exploring all types of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) which cause today’s youth to respond with certain default behaviors when triggered. This program will use the competencies of Social Emotional Learning as the basis for behavioral changes. In stepping back from adversity, learning prosocial behaviors, and then speak up for what is right is our program vision.

Compel America‘s approach to strengthening youth is through protective factors, athleticism and specifically working with all students experiencing adversity in their lives whether they be victims, bystanders, survivors or aggressors. Caring adults engaging with
students to provide a sense of purpose. We go beyond simply providing temporary solutions on how to respond to all forms of adversity and help those affected to change their mindset, to learn empathy, and to make good choices. We aim to influence and change the cultural norms around adversity, especially among younger generations.

Program Design

The program contains 12 separate student sessions for school selected third through eighth grade students. Topics are designed to develop self awareness, self-control, social awareness, and effective conflict resolution and decision-making skills to help avoid default behaviors.

Sessions follow a 90-minute, after school structure led by school selected mentors and Compel America instructors. A group of 20 children are identified for each 10-week program that meets one time per week.  Compel Ambassadors are enlisted and assigned to work with schools. During 3 of the sessions, the Ambassador: a celebrity, athlete,
local or national personality, will collaborate with mentors and program personnel to deliver a powerful program. The Ambassadors will use their personality/athleticism to influence our impressionable youth in a very positive way. The sessions rotates between 15 minute educational sessions, and active sports sessions, for 90 minutes.

Training and Implementation Support

Step Back, Speak Up recommends two days of on-site implementation and training. Generally, program staff members conduct a one-on-one interview with the school leaders prior to coming on-site to ensure the training is tailored to fit the needs of the school along with a follow up program evaluation at the conclusion.

The first day of training focuses on an AM session devoted to building investment amongst the selected school mentors, the concepts of SEL and why it is essential. The second half of the day is a deep dive into the Step Back, Speak Up after school sessions; walking through the materials and the general structure of the program sessions and components.

The second day of training is customized to the needs of the school. Topics could include training sessions on Adverse Childhood Experiences, Adverse Community Experiences or Adverse World Experiences, or other Social Emotional Learning workshops to facilitate discussions and activities for building Adult SEL in teachers and program mentors.

Additionally, Step Back, Speak Up will suggest various tracking tools for schools to ensure implementation and measure of the impact on student outcomes. These tools include pre- and post-assessments for students, staff and parents.


Each session is designed to reflect the SEL competencies ,” In practice, this means that there are multiple opportunities in most seasons for students to engage actively with the material and one another.

Every lesson includes an opener, essential questions, wrap-up, and opportunities for reflection. The three Ambassador (athlete/celebrity) lead sessions also provide guidance around student-led discussions and other strategies for student-centered engagement.


The program utilizes the Social Emotional Competencies as the main objectives in all sessions with mentors or athletes:

Self-Awareness: The ability to accurately recognize one’s emotions and thoughts and their influence on behavior. This includes accurately assessing one’s strengths and limitations and possessing a well-grounded sense of confidence and optimism.

Self-Management: The ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations. This includes managing stress, controlling impulses, motivating oneself, and setting and working toward achieving personal and academic goals.

Social Awareness: The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures, to understand social and ethical norms for behavior, and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports.

Relationship Skills: The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. This includes communicating clearly, listening actively, cooperating, resisting inappropriate social pressure, negotiating conflict constructively, and seeking and offering help when needed.

Responsible Decision-Making/Conflict Resolution Skills: The ability to make constructive and respectful choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on consideration of ethical standards, safety concerns, social norms, the realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions, and the well-being of self and others.

All sessions have “learning extensions” that range from brief follow-up activities to “literature links,” writing prompts, and creative projects. These, along with the opportunities for reflection thought the student Journals, are designed to reinforce, apply, and help change student default behaviors within the students’ school, home, and community.

Donors Support:

Compel America is seeking financial support to bring this unique program to children and communities across America. It is our belief that “normal” wasn’t so good prior to the Pandemic and we have an opportunity to change that! We do not want this moment to
pass without helping our Educational Leaders who will urgently be needing to address student needs that are yet unknown. One thing is certain, ADVERSITY! Innovative responses such as ours will reach 20 students per 15-week program on a very individualized, personal level. Helping the most needy and expanding the capacity of schools to continue the program for years to come.

About Compel

COMPEL AMERICA is an adolescent empowerment organization whose mission is to both prevent and eradicate youth bullying through a community approach. It is our mission to recognize indications of intimidating and oppressing behavior amongst juveniles, and go forth to change knowledge, attitudes, and innate behavioral patterns of bullying at the root, in order to soften the impact on others. Our Ambassadors are
compelled to stand with us against bullying and are made up of athletes, celebrities, entrepreneurs, adult and youth community members.