We the People: Project Citizen is a curricular program for middle, secondary, and post-secondary students, youth organizations, and adult groups that promotes competent and responsible participation in local and state government. The program helps participants learn how to monitor and influence public policy. In the process, they develop support for democratic values and principles, tolerance, and feelings of political efficacy.
Entire classes of students or members of youth or adult organizations work cooperatively to identify a public policy problem in their community. They then research the problem, evaluate alternative solutions, develop their own solution in the form of a public policy, and create a political action plan to enlist local or state authorities to adopt their proposed policy. Participants develop a portfolio of their work and present their project in a public hearing showcase before a panel of civic-minded community members.
The Project Citizen program is administered with the assistance of a national network of state and congressional district coordinators in every state and is conducted with the assistance of the National Conference of State Legislatures. It is funded by the U.S. Department of Education by act of Congress. Additional funding at the state level is also provided by an increasing number of state legislatures.
The curriculum was first used in the 1995-96 school year as a pilot in 12 states. Since then the domestic program has expanded to include schools in every state as well as American Samoa, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico. As of November 2006, approximately 22,500 teachers have taught Project Citizen to over 1,400,000 students.
The formula for tracking student participation is based on two different surveys. The first was conducted in November 1997 by researchers at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin, in preparing An Assessment of We the People Project Citizen: Promoting Citizenship in Classrooms and Communities. The second was conducted by the Center for Civic Education in February 1999.
Project Citizen in the Commonwealth
This site is intended as a resource for teachers in Virginia that use Project Citizen and as a source of information for those that may want to use Project Citizen. You will find links to the various district coordinators in the state, middle school and high school SOL correlations. If you are interested in receiving materials and training, please contact the state coordinator, Bill Wilson, Director of the Madison Institutes at James Madison University.
We would like to recognize Mr. Rory Dippold's eigth grade class from Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School for being recognized with an Exceptional rating at the Project Citizen National Showcase competition in Philadelphia, PA. Full results can be seen here.
"After spending the morning with some very engaging 8th graders at Twinfield Union School, my belief is reinforced that Project Citizen offers kids more than a course in civics education. It gives them a real-life opportunity to develop and sharpen their decision-making abilities. I hope, for our country's sake, that some of these Project Citizen students opt for a career in public service"
-Senator James M. Jeffords, speaking to the Twinfield (VT) Union School's 8th grade
Project Citizen class "Project Citizen helps bring state government, politics and the concept of representative democracy to life for the next generation of America's leaders. It may not be as dramatic as "reality TV" but it helps students gain a real life glimpse at how they can make a difference in helping their communities."
-Senator Richard T. Moore, Massachusetts Senate
"As a judge and practicing attorney, I have been involved in many programs, but none that even approached the excitement in civil participation of this program. Project Citizen is practical experience in democracy and civil involvement."
-Judge Gregory J. Donat, Tippecanoe County Court I, Lafayette, Indiana