Grant from Google.org for online civic engagement program for Washington students

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A $100,000 Google.org grant has been given to the Council on Public Legal Education to collaborate with iCivics on creating Washington's own state-specific platform for iCivics: iCivicsWA.

This platform gives schools and after-school programs across the state access to Washington-specific civics lessons, aiming to increase student civic engagement. This grant makes Washington the second state in the nation to implement similar programing at no cost to students or teachers.

iCivics is a national civic curriculum that uses online games, educational videos and other civic resources to teach students how government works and provides practice. The program was founded in 2009 by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to restore civic education in our nation’s schools.

“At Google we believe in the importance of civic knowledge and engagement, and that starts on a local level,” said Darcy Nothnagle, head of external affairs for the NW at Google. “iCivicsWA provides a fantastic opportunity for students to understand the political system in Washington State and energizes them to get involved locally and nationally.”

Thanks to the grant from Google, this resource will give access to state of the art digital civic education experiences to every student in Washington at no cost. The first iteration of the site includes four lesson plans targeted to high school students. The site will be connected to the existing iCivics website, which contains civics curriculum on the federal government.

“We are excited to see these lesson plans launch in Washington State,” said Margaret Fisher, the state director for iCivics in Washington “This is a big step in teaching young people about our democracy and empowering them to participate.”

Louise Dubé, Executive Director of the national iCivics program will join Margaret Fisher to officially launch the platform as part of the Civic Learning Summit 2 on January 23, 2018. Sponsored by the Council on Public Legal Education, Summit 2 will highlight progress made over the last year in addressing significant difficulties faced with civic education in the state of Washington.

The launch of iCivicsWA will help address how to reach all children in Washington with a quality civic learning education. The program will place an emphasis on reaching out to underserved youth - immigrant and refugee youth, youth of color and youth in rural communities.

Google and iCivics are celebrating the grant by giving 8-12th graders from the YMCA’s Youth and Government program a sneak peek Wednesday at the program at Hamilton International Middle School in Wallingford before its official launch.

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Google has over 2,900 employees in Washington state in offices in Seattle and Kirkland; since 2011, Google has awarded more than $20 million to nonprofits and schools in Washington state.

The Council on Public Legal Education is a program of lawforwa.org, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in Washington State that has worked for the last twenty years to ensure that all within the state learn and exercise their rights and responsibilities. In 2017, it formally launched the Civic Learning Initiative to ensure that all students in Washington have access to high quality civic education.

iCivics was created by Civics Inc., a nonprofit organization that empowers teachers with effective and engaging resources to develop the next generation of citizens. iCivics was founded by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to develop new and innovative approaches to civic education. In Washington, the state is now the fifth highest user of iCivics in the country.


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