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State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond gathers with the Beyond Differences National Teen Board in Mill Valley. Photo courtesy of Beyond Differences

   Beyond Differences raised $675,000 at its annual benefit at the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley on April 20. Cocktails! Connections! Celebration! was a celebration of inclusion, acceptance and belonging. 

   State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond was master of ceremonies and gave a special honor to former Marin County Superintendent of Schools Mary Jane Burke, who was one of the first champions of Beyond Differences’ programs and was instrumental in bringing them to Marin County schools. 

   Members of Beyond Differences National Teen Board shared their stories of overcoming social isolation and becoming leaders in building a culture of belonging by writing curricula, leading powerful discussions on a national stage and speaking at the United Nations. 

   With free educator training, social-emotional curriculum and national awareness days of action, Beyond Differences is dedicated to helping students understand social isolation, promote diversity and inclusion, and encourage youth to embrace differences and see them as a strength. For more information, visit

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