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Our History

Sandy Hook Promise was founded by loved ones of the victims of the school shooting  at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012. This timeline from tragedy to transformation illustrates the growth of our organization and the movement to stop school shootings, prevent gun violence and create safer schools, homes, and communities.

Sandy Hook Tree

Explore the Timeline

Explore the Timeline


Twenty first-graders and six educators are killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School by 154 bullets fired in less than five minutes. Affected families begin meeting in a Newtown home to discuss how to ensure a school shooting tragedy like this would never happen again.

Picture of LA Times cover


Several families unite to launch Sandy Hook Promise on January 14, 2013. At the event, “The Promise” is read for the first time. Co-founders begin to lobby in Washington, D.C., for expanded background checks. Sadly, expanded background checks fail to pass Congress.

Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden testify on key reforms to help create change after the tragesy at Sandy Hook elementary.

In Connecticut, 24 Sandy Hook family members call on the State Legislature to strengthen the large capacity magazine provision. The Legislature responds by placing much needed restrictions on ammunition sales.

To address prevention beyond legislation, Co-founders begin research nationwide on mental health, educational programs, law enforcement, mass shootings, and school shootings. It is soon discovered that warning signs precede every attack. No one yet teaches these warning signs of violence. Broad research begins the strategy and development of the Know the Signs programs, including Say Something and Start With Hello.


No One Eats Alone campaign becomes Sandy Hook Promise’s first call-to-action to address social isolation. The first Start With Hello training is conducted at Ruth C. Kinney Elementary School in Islip Terrace, New York. The first Say Something program teaching the warning signs of potential violence is conducted by Nicole Hockley, Sandy Hook Promise Co-founder, in November 2014 at St. John’s Church in Columbus, Ohio.

Nicole Hockley visiting a school during Start with Hello Week.


The first credible school shooting plot is averted in Cincinnati, Ohio, with the help of a Say Something-trained student and guidance counselor.

Two students at a Say Something training

Sandy Hook Promise holds its first annual Promise Champions Gala in Washington, D.C., to honor corporate sponsorships and elected officials supporting our bipartisan programs and policies.


Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund leads a coalition to pass the 21st Century Cures Act and rallies to support the Mental Health Reform Act. The laws provide meaningful reform in mental health resources and to ensure those in distress have access to the needed services.

Mark Barden, Sandy Hook Promise Co-founder, testifies at the Senate Hearing on President Barack Obama’s Executive Actions on Guns.

Mark Barden speaking live


12/14/2017 marks the 5-year Remembrance of the tragedy that killed 26 lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School. A benefit is held at the Plaza in New York City to create support for our mission.

SAVE (Students Against Violence Everywhere) merges with Sandy Hook Promise to create SAVE Promise Club chapters in elementary, middle, and high schools nationwide.

Save Promise Club circa 2017


Programs and policy initiatives continue to grow, in part due to the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting.  The Say Something Anonymous Reporting System launches nationwide, the first anonymous reporting system exclusively serving schools 24/7/365. The Walt Disney Company agrees to fund the development of a digital Start With Hello, which launches with training specifically for elementary schools.

Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund writes and helps pass the landmark Students Teachers and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act to fund suicide prevention and youth-focused mental health programs at the state level.

Sandy Hook Promise's supporters holding signs at a gun violence prevention rally in DC.


Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund brings stakeholders to the table to pass the Texas School Safety and Mental Health in Public Schools Act (2019) requiring that every district’s enrichment curriculum include suicide prevention and warning sign information.

The National Crisis Center for the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System launches in Miami, Florida.


Sandy Hook Promise launches Say Something: Prevent Suicide and Being a Trusted Adult programs to prevent youth suicide and violence. This bolsters virtual tools and options of the Know the Signs programs due to the COVID pandemic.

Student and teacher holding a "Say Something to me" sign

The “Back-to-School Essentials” Public Service Announcement (PSA) wins the Emmy for Outstanding Commercial (aired in 2019).

Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund champions the Ohio Safety and Violence Education (SAVE) for Students Act to require students to receive life-saving training, like Know the Signs.


Programs continue to center focus on youth mental health with new and updated resources for youth and adults as impact of the COVID pandemic continues.

Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund writes and passes Suicide Training and Awareness Nationally Delivered for Universal Prevention (STANDUP) Act .

Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” takes on new meaning when performed by real school shooting survivors in Sandy Hook Promise’s new PSA (wins Emmy for Outstanding Commercial in 2022).


12/14/2022 marks the 10-year Remembrance of the tragedy. Sandy Hook Promise honors loved ones and the impact of the life-saving Know the Signs programs and policies.

Say Something: Elementary launches for K-5 students using the Say Something framework with age-appropriate curriculum with an Animated Series option.

Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund plays a pivotal role in the writing and passing of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act in the wake of the horrific school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

Image of Rob Elementary school memorial


Nearly 10 million Promise Makers have made The Promise to help prevent gun violence and protect children. The legacy of the loved ones killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School continues with Dylan’s Butterfly Effect, Mary’s inspiration of our mental health work, and Daniel’s Compassion and Connection.

Collage image of Sandy Hook Promise's co-founders and their loved ones who were killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.



Where to Next?

Our Programs

Our proven Know the Signs programs teach youth and adults how to prevent violence, shootings, and other harmful acts.

Our Impact

Committed to driving change to protect children, measuring our effectiveness to learn and celebrate our shared success.

Our Advocacy

Through our sister organization, Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund, you can help change policy to enact common sense reforms.