This I Believe, Inc., was founded in 2004 as an independent, not-for-profit organization that engages youth and adults from all walks of life in writing, sharing, and discussing brief essays about the core values that guide their daily lives.
This I Believe is based on a 1950s radio program of the same name, hosted by acclaimed journalist Edward R. Murrow. Each day, Americans gathered by their radios to hear compelling essays from the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, Helen Keller, and Harry Truman as well as corporate leaders, cab drivers, scientists, and secretaries—anyone able to distill into a few minutes the guiding principles by which they lived. These essayists’ words brought comfort and inspiration to a country worried about the Cold War, McCarthyism, and racial division.
In reviving This I Believe, executive producer Dan Gediman said, “The goal is not to persuade Americans to agree on the same beliefs. Rather, the hope is to encourage people to begin the much more difficult task of developing respect for beliefs different from their own.”
Selected contemporary This I Believe essays were featured in regular broadcasts on National Public Radio (NPR) in the United States from 2005 to 2009, in a series produced and hosted by Jay Allison. Essays were then featured from 2009-2014 in weekly broadcasts on satellite and public radio shows hosted by Bob Edwards. Essays are currently heard on the weekly This I Believe Podcast. In addition, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) aired essays from Canadians in 2007. In 2005 and 2006, USA Weekend invited its readers to participate in our project and published selected essays from their readers. And numerous local public radio stations, newspapers, and magazines have featured essays from citizens in their communities.
This I Believe, Inc., in partnership with Henry Holt and Company, published two books collecting essays featured in the NPR series. The first book, This I Believe, was published in 2006 and became a New York Times bestseller in paperback, while the second volume, This I Believe II, was published in 2008. In addition to collecting these essays for posterity, the books have become popular as common readers at colleges and universities and with “one book, one community” projects. In partnership with publisher John Wiley & Sons, This I Believe published another series of books, each on a particular theme: This I Believe: On Love (2010), This I Believe: On Fatherhood (2011), This I Believe: Life Lessons (2011), and This I Believe: On Motherhood (2012). In 2013, This I Believe debuted a new set of books built around essays from a particular city or state, beginning with This I Believe: Kentucky. Other regional books in the works are This I Believe: Philadelphia and This I Believe: New York City.
Teachers around the country—and around the world—have embraced This I Believe as a powerful educational tool. They have downloaded our educational curricula, posters, and brochures for using This I Believe in middle and high school classrooms and in college courses. These curricula help teachers guide students through exploring their beliefs and then composing personal essays about them. The students learn about themselves and their peers, and experience the delight of realizing their views and voices have value.