MAY 2021
Doing Civics for Civics
I’ve had the great honor of advocating for stronger K–12 civic education policies at the local, state, and now national levels for the past decade-plus, and it’s not lost on me that collectively, these campaigns proved the civics lesson of a lifetime. During my time at the McCormick Foundation, we helped launch a districtwide civics initiative in Chicago Public Schools (CPS), the third largest district in Illinois serving 20% of the state’s students, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office, District CEO, the city’s leading philanthropic organizations, and civic education nonprofits.
We later led separate state campaigns to require civics courses in middle and high school, building bipartisan supermajorities, and later implementing these policies with fidelity from Rockford to Cairo. And now the CivXNow Coalition is leading a national campaign to pass transformational federal legislation, the bipartisan Civics Secures Democracy Act (CSD), which would bring $1 billion annually to districts, states, and nonprofits throughout the fruited plain. This lesson in federalism and policy formulation, advocacy, and implementation demonstrates the power of doing civics for civics.
Each month, I’ll use this column to:
  Reflect on our monthly progress to strengthen local, state, and national civic education policies
  Highlight the grassroots advocacy of our 169 and growing coalition partners
  Share insights from our grasstops engagement with members of Congress and other DC power brokers
I’ll share my monthly civics lessons with you, hoping they simultaneously inform and inspire action at every level of our federal system. Please join me on this lifelong journey of doing civics for civics.
Yours in civics,
Shawn Healy
Senior Director of State Policy and Advocacy, iCivics
Inside this newsletter:
  Successful CSD Advocacy Month
  CivXNow Policy Summit
  YMCA Y&G Students Support CSD
  CivXNow Partnering with ActiVote
  Join the CivXNow Team — Policy Team Coordinator
  New Coalition Members
CivXNow Coalition Celebrates Successful Civics Secures Democracy Act Advocacy Month
As May concludes, we celebrate a highly successful inaugural month of action on behalf of the Civics Secures Democracy Act (CSD). This month, we hosted five congressional meeting prep sessions attended by dozens of supporters, facilitated several meetings with congressional staff and educators from their districts and states, and witnessed extensive grassroots outreach through emails and phone calls to congressional offices. We proved to all 535 Members of Congress that the civic education field and our allies are united behind this transformational bill to strengthen K–12 civic education from sea to shining sea.
Thank you for all that you’ve done, and most importantly, all that you will continue to do to build strong, bipartisan majorities to pass the CSD in both chambers this session. We urge you to continue to use the CSD Advocacy Toolkit to schedule meetings with congressional legislative assistants, email and call your Senators and Representative, and share your support and stories on social media. Together, let’s continue to do civics for civics.
Save the Date for Our Inaugural Policy Summit
We are excited to announce that the inaugural CivXNow Policy Summit will be held September 21–22, 2021. The CivXNow Coalition believes now is the time to catalyze the momentum we’re seeing across states to implement policies that promote comprehensive solutions to prioritize civic education in K–12.
The current social and political context have reinvigorated the urgency of the coalition’s policy goals and this virtual summit will provide both learning opportunities and inspiration to spur policy action. The Policy Summit will be a gathering of hundreds of attendees including state legislators, state education leaders, philanthropic leaders, press, and other influencer groups including parents, teachers, and administrators. With support from Carnegie Corporation of New York, we will share models for K–12 civic education as well as spotlight the need to accelerate progress during the 2021–2022 legislative sessions.
Registration details will follow in subsequent emails, so in the interim, save the date and plan to join us for this celebration of progress to date and preparation for further policy wins in 2022 and beyond.
YMCA Y&G Students from All 50 States Voice Support for Civics Secures Democracy Act
YMCA Youth and Government students from across the country have voiced their support for the bipartisan Civics Secures Democracy Act (CSD), including over 250 "Student Sponsors" of the bill from all 50 states and nearly 130 congressional districts. These students have reached out to ask their Representatives and Senators to sponsor the bill, organized virtual meetings with congressional offices, and worked with their peers and local communities to grow support for investing in civics education at the local, state, and federal levels.
Sophia Koppensteiner, who also serves as the 2021 Kentucky Youth Governor as part of the YMCA's Youth and Government program, reflected on the inspiration for her advocacy. “I have been involved in multiple civic leadership programs provided by the Y,” said Koppensteiner. “I would love for more students to get the same opportunities that I have had, and therefore, I have become more involved in advocating for the Civics Secures Democracy Act.”
After scheduling a meeting with her Congressman, Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY-02), Koppensteiner described the experience as “invaluable.” She elaborated, “I, as a student, was able to voice my opinion and share my views on the importance of this Act; it will help provide a larger number and more diverse group of students an opportunity to learn the necessary skills to make a difference in their community.”
Students like Koppensteiner are eager to build durable, bipartisan support for the CSD and to participate in state and local campaigns to strengthen K–12 civic education inside and outside of school.
CivXNow Partnering with ActiVote During Month of Action for CSD
Civic education doesn't stop at the schoolhouse gate. We are excited to partner with ActiVote for civic education and engagement on policy issues facing our communities and the elections that help decide our direction.
ActiVote empowers all Americans to be active in our democracy by helping voters create the habit of voting. They provide easy access to your elections and what candidates really stand for, while filtering out all the noise. With their #DailyDemocracy you can take one small action every day, increasing your civic engagement day by day.
During May’s Month of Action on behalf of the Civics Secures Democracy Act (CSD), CivXNow is partnering with ActiVote to gauge public sentiments for stronger civic education policies and educate users on the CSD. Please download the ActiVote app, weigh in on the civics survey, and show your support for the CSD. ActiVote will be highlighting our coalition for the next week to generate more support for and awareness of our mission.
Add Your Expertise to the CivXNow Team
iCivics is hiring a CivXNow Policy Team Coordinator to assist with CivXNow and our policy work as a whole. This individual will support policy and advocacy work, coalition-building, social media, event planning, research, and other departmental needs and administrative duties.
Meet the Newest CivXNow Coalition Members
The CivXNow Coalition is growing fast. We now stand at 169 member organizations strong! We remain deeply appreciative of all of your efforts and what we have accomplished together. Our goal is to aggregate and activate large networks of support to expand and re-imagine civic education as a force for civic strength. Thank you for your partnership. If you are part of an organization interested in joining the Coalition or learning more, please contact Patricia Leslie-Brown.
The latest additions to the Coalition include:
  Citizen Discourse
  Human Rights Educators USA
  iThrive Games
Our Mission
Recognizing that preparing our youth to assume the responsibilities and understand their rights as active participants in the civic life of this great nation is essential to the health of our Republic, we pledge to help every school in the nation fulfill its historic and vital civic mission. We pledge to ensure that every young person acquires the civic knowledge, skills, and behaviors necessary for informed and authentic civic engagement.
A Team Effort
The CivXNow team produces this newsletter each month.
We are grateful for the energy, time, and guidance of the CivXNow Advisory Council and to many, many others who support individual projects.
The important work of CivXNow is generously funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York,
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and The Robert R. McCormick Foundation.
Follow us and use #CivXNow to join the movement!
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