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As someone who cares deeply about children, you may know social isolation is a very real epidemic. It can cause them to pull away and, in serious situations, even hurt themselves or others. Start With Hello is one of Sandy Hook Promise’s free Know the Signs programs and teaches students to be more socially inclusive and connected to each other.

Start With Hello Program Overview

With activities and curricula available for all ages, the free Start With Hello training program empowers students to end social isolation by teaching them three easy steps:

See Someone Alone: how to recognize the signs of loneliness and social isolation

Reach Out and Help: what students can do to help others feel included

Start With Hello: how to break the ice and strike up a conversation

Start With Hello includes activities and lesson plans that can be used to teach students the skills they need to create a culture of inclusion in their school and community. 

What’s more, our experts have done the planning for you, and you can tailor it to meet your school’s schedule and unique needs. You can complete the student training in a class period and use the activities and lesson plans for year-round engagement. Reach out to us through our contact form if you have any questions.


Grades K-5

Start With Hello Elementary is a digital program that includes an interactive storybook, videos, activities and projects. You’ll also receive an educators’ guide with comprehensive lesson plans based on social-emotional learning to help students build empathy, healthy relationships and social awareness.

Register Your Elementary School

Grades 6-12

Start With Hello Middle and High School is a program that includes train-the-trainer videos, a planning guide and a handbook. Your school will also get an educators’ guide to empower your school to keep the Start With Hello message alive throughout the year.

Register Your Secondary School


Start With Hello Call to Action Week

Want a fun, easy way to create a culture of inclusion that values everyone at your school? Join us for Start With Hello Week!

Who: Your school or organization, and thousands of others!

What: Celebrate Start With Hello, raise awareness about social isolation, and promote inclusion

Where: Your school or youth organization’s hometown

When: Fall 2020 – check back here for exact dates!

How: Start With Hello Week is FREE, flexible, fun and easy to implement

Register online starting in spring 2020, and you’ll receive information and resources to plan an exciting and meaningful Start With Hello Week.

Start With Hello Awards

Sandy Hook Promise is proud to recognize outstanding students, schools and districts for their participation and creativity in Start With Hello Week. See the winners!

Program Background and Details

Start With Hello was developed using extensive research in the field of inclusion, peer relationships, and social isolation. The program was created in collaboration with experts in the field, educators, community leaders, parents and students. Social isolation and loneliness can have significant impact on a students’ mental and physical health, academic performance, and peer relationships.1  

Start With Hello meets evidentiary criteria for the STOP Act. The program was evaluated in a case-control test at Los Angeles Unified School District by the University of Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center. SWH participants had significant improvement in perceptions of school safety. When compared to those that did not attend, Start With Hello participants demonstrated greater willingness and self-efficacy to report warning signs of mental distress and threats, and more positive relationships with trusted adults.  Additionally, results showed directional improvements in attitudes toward school, peer connections and providing a sense of empowerment.2  

Contact us: If you have questions, please reach out to Sandy Hook Promise at

1. Social Isolation
a. Center for Disease Control
b. Beyond Differences
c. WestEd
d. National Center for Biotechnology Information

2. Cacioppo & Hawkley, 2009 O’Malley, & Amarillas, 2011
a. Science Direct


Start With Hello

Teaches youth to minimize social isolation, empathize with others, and create a more inclusive and connected culture.

Learn more


To see more of what we’ve accomplished, watch our new video.


  • More than 11 million participants in one or more of our Know the Signs programs and initiatives
  • More than 6,500 Promise Leaders working in local communities across the country
  • More than 4.5 million people have made the Sandy Hook Promise to do all they can to protect children from gun violence
  • More than 2,700 SAVE Promise Clubs throughout the U.S.
  • 4.5 million people trained in Start With Hello
  • 2 million people trained in Say Something
  • More than 40,000 tips received through the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System in districts and states nationwide



  • Launched our Start With Hello Elementary digital training program specifically for grades K-5, with a grant from The Walt Disney Corporation 
  • Launched our first back-to-school public service announcement, garnering 85 million+ views worldwide, more than $4 million in donated ads via TV, radio, print, and digital, and generating nearly 5,000 media mentions
  • Received our first statewide partnership, mandating the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System to be placed in all schools in Pennsylvania
  • Received the distinguished 2019 “Freedom from Fear” Medal awarded by the prestigious Roosevelt Institute
  • Received the 2019 FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for outstanding contributions to local communities in the prevention of crime and violence


  • October 2018: SHP has 6,200 volunteer Promise Leaders taking action and bringing Know the Signs programs to their communities, hosting information tables at events, meeting with lawmakers, taking advocacy actions like signing petitions and making calls to their legislators and more
  • September 2018: Over 15,000 schools signed up for our Start With Hello Call to Action Week
  • August 2018: We hit 3.5 million youth and adults trained in our Know the Signs programs at schools and youth organizations throughout the country
  • August 2018: To date, over 3,000,000 people have Made the Promise at
  • March 2018: SHP launched the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System (SS-ARS) and begins implementation in school districts around the country
  • March 2018: Written by Sandy Hook Promise, the STOP School Violence Act passes, opening up $100 million dollars over 10 years for schools to implement prevention programs like Know The Signs, anonymous reporting systems and other school safety improvements
  • March 2018: Launch of “The Other Side” PSA
  • February 2018: Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden speak with President Trump at the White House Listening Session on gun violence prevention and school safety in the wake of the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida


  • December 2017: By the end of this year, over 1.5 million supporters have Made The Promise and we have over 2,400 Promise Leaders nationwide
  • December 2017: Launch of “Tomorrow’s News” PSA
  • December 2017: We honored Vice President Joe Biden at our inaugural winter benefit for his work in gun violence prevention
  • November 2017: Over 4,000 schools nationwide have implemented at least one of our Know The Signs programs
  • June 2017: SHP combines efforts with SAVE, Students Against Violence Everywhere, and has since successfully launched over 1,000 SAVE Promise Clubs in 47 states and the District of Columbia
  • Spring 2017: We partner with SOS Signs of Suicide to bring suicide prevention programming to schools and youth organizations around the country
  • January 2017: Over 1,000,000 people have Made The Promise and we have over 2,000 Promise Leaders nationwide


  • December 2016: Our PSA “Evan garners 100 million views across channels in a few weeks and introduces our Know the Signs prevention programs to millions of Americans online and on television
  • December 2016: SHP plays a pivotal role in the inclusion of mental health parity as part of the 21st Century Cures Act, one of the last bills President Obama signs while in office
  • November 2016: Over the course of this year, we train over 1,000,000 youth and adults in a Know The Signs program
  • February 2016: We launch Start With Hello, our social inclusion program, nationwide
  • January 2016: Following the December 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, Mark Barden introduces President Obama in January 2016 ahead of the president’s speech announcing new executive orders on gun violence prevention at the White House


  • December 2015: We trained over 350,000 youth and adults in at least one Know the Signs program at over 500 schools or youth organizations
  • December 2015: Over 580,000 supporters have Made The Promise
  • December 2015: Over 1,000 volunteer Promise Leaders are spreading awareness and implementing programs in their communities
  • Fall 2015: We enter our first district-wide partnership to bring our programs to Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Florida
  • April 2015: We partner with Dr. Dewey Cornell of the University of Virginia to bring Safety Assessment and Intervention programming to schools so they can better assess threats and have a team in place to provide solutions to threats and get students help


  • December 2014: SHP’s “Monsters Under the Bed” awareness video and “What They Left Behind” documentary reach over 1.9 million people, and 400,000 view Monsters
  • December 2014: Over 400,000 supporters have Made the Promise
  • November 2014: SHP helps pass a universal background check initiative in Washington State in 2014.
  • November 2014: SHP continues to pass and progress legislation in multiple states and helps pass federal legislation to improve the NICS system
  • November 2014: We launched Say Something nationwide in 2014, training youth to know the signs of someone in crisis and identify a trusted adult to say something to and get the person the help they need before a tragedy can occur



  • December 2013: 180,000 people Make the Promise to protect children from gun violence
  • Fall 2013:  SHP announces core purpose and actions, shifting from a policy focus to community-based prevention through programs and practices, education and awareness and changing “gun violence acceptance” attitudes & behaviors
  • Spring 2013: We lead passage of legislation in Delaware, Illinois and New Jersey and make progress in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire
  • Spring 2013: SHP progresses and helps gain the passage of sensible, comprehensive mental health & wellness and gun safety & access laws in Connecticut
  • Winter 2013: SHP launches comprehensive research to understand causes and enablers of gun violence and to identify real solutions, meeting with academics, medical professionals, law enforcement, gunowners and groups, educators and overall experts in the space of gun violence prevention
  • January 2013: SHP is founded and officially launched

Legislative Priorities

Gun violence is preventable and we're currently advocating for three main gun violence prevention policies to protect our children and communities. Please join us and call on your legislators to pass these life-saving bills!

Pass Model School Safety Policy

In the vast majority of incidents of school violence, students display many warning signs or signals before taking harmful action. We already have evidence-based programs that we know have helped stop multiple school shootings, suicides, and other acts of school violence. Sandy Hook Promise supports state and federal policy to require all schools to implement the following proven school safety programming to stop violence before it happens.

    • School Threat Assessment: Threat assessment teaches adults in schools and youth organizations how to identify, assess and respond to threats of violence or at-risk behavior BEFORE a tragedy takes place. Threat assessment not only addresses the threat itself but also helps identify and treat the underlying problem that led the youth to make the threat.
    • Student Safety and Violence Prevention Training: Students need training to recognize signs and signals, especially within social media, from individuals who may be a threat to themselves or others. They should also be encouraged and empowered to say something to a trusted adult BEFORE it is too late. This training should be required at least once a year in every school.
    • School Personnel and Student Suicide Prevention Training: Youth, educators and administrators must know how to identify, intervene and get help for youth who may be depressed or suicidal. Every school should be required to provide at least one hour of evidence-based suicide prevention training each year to both students and teachers.
    • Student Social Inclusion Training: Studies have shown that social isolation and loneliness can have a significant impact on students’ mental and physical health, academic performance, and peer relationships. By teaching students how to be more inclusive and connected to one another from a young age, we can create stronger school communities where marginalization and rejection are minimized, bullying is significantly reduced, and students’ mental wellness is optimized.
    • Anonymous Reporting Systems: Every state should establish a 24/7 anonymous reporting system that is free and accessible to all schools, parents, teachers, students, and administrators. When combined with training, it is a critical tool for ensuring everyone in the school ecosystem knows how to identify the warning signs of violence and that key information quickly gets to those who can help prevent harm.



Pass Extreme Risk Protection Orders

In the aftermath of a shooting incident, we often hear stories from friends or family members about the warning signs the shooter exhibited.

Extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs) empower family members and law enforcement agencies to prevent gun violence and gun-related suicides. Under such a law, family members and law enforcement officials can petition a court to temporarily separate at-risk individuals from firearms. If the judge finds the person poses a significant danger of injury to self or others, the judge will order that the firearms be temporarily placed in safe storage until the person receives the help they need.

Sandy Hook Promise supports legislation that enables family or friends to alert law enforcement to a potentially dangerous situation and gives law enforcement the tools and authority they need to remove firearms in the interest of public safety. This legislation can be passed at the state level, as it has been in Connecticut, California, Oregon, Indiana, Washington, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Congress can also take action at the federal level to require or incentivize state passage of these life-saving laws. If you live in a state without an ERPO law, contact your state and federal representatives and ask them to support ERPOs. If you live in a state with an ERPO, educate your family, friends, and neighbors about the law and how it can save a life.


Pass Background Checks

Background checks are a proven and critical tool to help keep guns out of the hands of those who are a danger to themselves or others. Background checks help protect our children and communities. States with expansive background check laws have seen 52% fewer mass shootings¹, a 48% reduction in suicide deaths by firearm², and a 48% reduction in law enforcement death caused by gun violence³. By requiring that firearms be sold and transferred through licensed sellers and subject to background checks, we can prevent future tragedies. Sandy Hook Promise is proud to support legislation to strengthen our background checks system at the state and federal level to protect our children and communities from preventable gun violence.

With the support of millions of Promise Makers, Sandy Hook Promise has proudly helped lead the effort at federal and state level to strengthen our background checks system since our founding. We are closer than ever to passing universal background checks, but we need your help to build the votes to protect our children and communities from preventable gun violence. Call on your Representative and Senator to support universal background checks today.


[1] Everytown for Gun Safety. New Research: States with Background Checks Experience Fewer Mass Shootings. New York: Everytown for Gun Safety, 12 Nov. 2015. Online.
[2] Michael D. Anestis, Joye C. Anestis, “Suicide Rates and State Laws Regulating Access and Exposure to Handguns”, American Journal of Public Health 105, no. 10 (October 1, 2015): pp. 2049-2058.
[3] Everytown for Gun Safety. Latest Gun Violence Research: States With Background Checks Have Fewer Domestic Violence Homicides, Fewer Police Killed By Guns. New York: Everytown for Gun Safety, 16 January. 2015. Online.

Our Mission

Enact sensible laws, policies and regulations at a state and federal level in the areas of mental health & wellness and gun safety that result in the reduction of gun-related death and injury.


Our Board

Who are Promise Leaders?

Promise Leaders are compassionate volunteers who support the Sandy Hook Promise mission. You’re willing to take action in your community to prevent gun violence by uniting people who value children’s lives. You’ll stand against the gun violence epidemic that claims the lives of thousands of children each year and traumatizes millions more. With Promise Leaders in every U.S. state, we’re organizing people of all backgrounds and beliefs to end gun violence in our schools.


Do you have volunteer opportunities for students and educators?

If you’re a student looking for activities for your club or organization, learn more about our Save Promise Clubs. If you’re an education professional looking for gun violence prevention and social emotional wellness training, please contact our program team.

Learn how our programs benefit students, thanks to the efforts of our volunteers.

What are gun violence prevention volunteer activities?

  • Program: Outreach with local leaders to help start programs in your community.
  • Awareness: Write a letter to the editor to your local newspaper about the issues.
  • Awareness: Host an info table at a local fair, conference or community event
  • Advocacy: Contact lawmakers to help pass our sensible gun safety laws.
  • Fundraising: Hold a fun fundraiser to support our mission.
  • Share ideas for your own activities!

 Volunteers in Texas

How are volunteers trained and supported?

Sandy Hook Promise has an expert team of engagement professionals to educate and inspire volunteers. Services include:

  • Toolkits so you can learn about programs and how to take action
  • A secure Facebook group for volunteers across the country
  • Phone call and email support from the Promise Leader team
  • Informative text updates and email newsletters
  • Specialized online trainings and meetups
  • Invitations to Sandy Hook Promise meetings and events in your area

If caring people like you volunteer, then we can keep our promise to honor all children lost to gun violence, including mass shootings and other tragedies.




Our mission is simple: to prevent gun violence against children. Your donations will help us continue to work towards achieving this mission.  

Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund is a 501(C)(4) tax-exempt public charity. Your donation is not tax deductible and goes toward policy and non-policy campaigns to prevent gun violence.

Donate to the Action Fund

Sandy Hook Promise additional donation options

  1. Stock Donation or Planned Gift to SHP: Please call us at (203) 304-9780 or email us at
  2. Support our SHP Action Fund: Non tax deductible fund dedicated to advocate for state and federal policy changes in the areas of mental wellness and gun safety.
  3. Support our SHP Foundation: Tax-deductible fund dedicated to building a national network of Promise Communities committed to Parent Together and implement mental wellness, community and gun safety programs. 
  4. If you prefer to make a donation by check, it should be made payable to the Sandy Hook Promise Community Fund and mailed to: PO Box 3489, Newtown, CT 06470, Attention: Development.

You Can Help Us Achieve More

The SHP Community Fund is a restricted fund dedicated solely to the Newtown community. It is needs based – requiring individuals and/or C3 organizations to request assistance from SHP. SHP will also develop programs with funding as needed. No fees and/or administrative costs are taken from this fund.

Donate to the Community Fund