In addition to their innovative humanistic approach of education, the Waldorf Schools also place a strong importance on developing their students' sense of social responsibility. Studies show that their students are indeed more socially aware than students from other schools, which fosters their activism and self-confidence.
This heightened sense of social responsibility is not due to one particular initiative within the schools, but rather the priority placed on peace and tolerance, which is an integral element of the humanistic pedagogical approach of their academic model, in which students are more aware of their own individual path.
Throughout their history, Waldorf schools have prided themselves on linking together communities that have been polarized by political or socio-economic forces. Examples include their South Africa school which violated the rules of apartheid in allowing black and white students to attend class together, even though the school lost state financial aid as a result. Similarly, one of their schools in Isreal boasts Jewish and Arab stduents and faculty members; they also run a joint Arab-Jewish Waldorf kindergarten and primary school as well as Arabic language multi-cultural Waldorf school there as well. More than one thousand poor favela residents of Sao Paulo, Brazil have been incorporated into a Waldorf-run community service organization; this center provides childcare, vocational training, job opportunities and integral social services such as health care and Waldorf education.
They also rely on Friends of Waldorf Education, a strong affiliated network of teachers, alumni and administrators which not only advanced the cause of Waldorf education around the world, but helps set up volunteer programs (placing around 500 young people abroad each year), fosters emergency pedagogy to psychologically-traumatized children in crisis regions, mobilizes their forces behind WOW Day, in which students, parents and teachers from Waldorf schools around the world dedicate their day to assist and raise money for disadvantaged children at Waldorf schools. They also assist individual projects through their International Relief Fund and provide educational scholarships to kids in need.