The RESPONSE ABILITY Project is a national initiative that addresses bystander intervention and heroism. Key consultant for this project is Dr. Alan Berkowitz, a renowned expert in the area of social justice and bystander behavior. There are several products and programs as part of this project: a DVD package (videos, facilitator's guide, book and online certification), trainings, a keynote speech, an interactive workshop for campuses, and the book written by Dr. Alan Berkowitz.  

Bystander Behavior and Bystander Intervention

The primary issues we address are bystander intervention and heroism.  Bystander behavior is the human phenomenon where we see or hear a problematic situation yet we do not take the actions necessary to intervene. The bystander effect, or Genovese syndrome, is a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases where individuals do not offer any means of help in an emergency situation to the victim when other people are present. The probability of help has in the past been thought to be inversely related to the number of bystanders; in other words, the greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is that any one of them will help. The mere presence of other bystanders greatly decreases intervention. This happens as the number of bystanders increases, any given bystander is less likely to interpret the incident as a problem, and less likely to assume responsibility for taking action.

Bystander intervention, as a prevention initiative, is experiencing an explosion of interest today, especially in light of the sex scandal at Penn State University. We are committed to bystanders being active and powerful in the face of a situation.

History of the RESPONSE ABILITY Project

Since it debuted in the summer of 2008, this award-winning program has become one of the most powerful, effective and successful educational initiatives on bystander behavior. Created initially for college students, this program empowers the 80% of individuals who are not causing, or even participating in, problematic behaviors and are also not standing up to the 20% who are.

It all started when we brought 10 college students together for a whole month on a private Facebook group. During this month, they uploaded webcam videos introducing themselves and sharing stories about bystander behavior moments in their lives. We then brought them all to a house in Sedona, Arizona, where they spent a whole day sharing about and exploring the topic of bystander behavior as it relates to being a college student. We captured it all on video -- 4 cameras in the retreat house and several others as the students traveled, hiked, interacted, and sat around a campfire at the end of the day.

The weekend was transformational for each and every student.  They were not the same human beings leaving Sedona as the ones who arrived on Friday. We all saw our lives and ourselves differently. As the students shared around the campfire on Saturday night, it was clear that they were leaving with a commitment to stand up for what's right and to make the difference they really are committed to make -- to be every|day heroes.

The RESPONSE ABILITY Project is committed to always make this conversation "real" and digestible. A program that allows everyone to see others confronting the barriers that get in the way of making a difference for someone else, for an organization or for an issue. A program that both educates and inspires. A program that transforms values into action. All with the same mission: to empower the every|day hero in all of us.

Awards, Recognitions and Accomplishments

While we did not produce this project to win awards or other recognitions, they do shine a light on the project and allow others to explore what it has to offer. At this time, the project has received the following awards and accomplishments:

  •    Distinguished list of national sponsors
  •    Over 500 Level I Certified Facilitators around the country
  •    Used on over 250 campuses, communities, companies and organizations
  •    Winner of the 2009 Laurel Wreath Award (NIC)
  •    Winner of the 2009 Willis HRH Fellow Award (FEA)
  •    Winner of the 2009 Telly Award (national)