(Originally published on April 21, 2021)
Disclaimer: BridgeUSA acquired The Acceptance Project (TAP) in April 2022 as part of its initiative to engage high school students in constructive discussion. This blog post was previously written by Taha Vahanvaty, Founder of TAP, to review the organization’s growth over five years.
A conversation between TAP Founder, Taha Vahanvaty, and former TAP advisor Tim Herb.
The Acceptance Project (TAP) was founded as a club at Stroudsburg Junior High School (SJHS) by then eighth-grader, Taha Vahanvaty. The goal of TAP was to give students the opportunity and space to engage in civil discourse about their communities and the nation’s most pressing issues.
Taha recognized that TAP’s model of facilitating dialogue could benefit schools across Pennsylvania and as a result started TAP’s summer program; TAP Into Summer. TAP Into Summer is a one-week, overnight, all expenses paid, dialogue intensive summer camp hosted at the Kirkridge Retreat Center in the Poconos. Through the summer camp, students learn how to start, lead, and run a TAP chapter at their high school.
In order to take TAP’s conversations to the next level Taha began piloting TAP’s new focus group program; the first of which is titled “TAP Into Race”. TAP has recruited graduate student facilitators from East Stroudsburg University’s (ESU) Diversity Dialogue Project (DDP) to mediate the focus group and to collect qualitative data on how SASD students engage in conversations centered around TAP’s foundational belief is that strengthening our democracy begins with inculcating values of empathy, dialogue, and deliberation in young people. “We are the future,” said Taha and the conversations start with us, the conversation starts at TAP.”