This past week, I learned more about the primary civic engagement program that the Constitutional Rights Foundation provides to underperforming schools across America: Civic Action Projects (CAPs). The idea is to train teachers from at-risk school districts how to use a semester long lesson plan to jumpstart students' knowledge of American government. Teachers then encourage students to go out into their communities and make a difference. This past year, several thousand students performed civic action projects in their communities, which included policy ideas that spread across a broad gamut (sex education revisions in the school, better environmental protection laws in the city, and campaigns to change state laws on euthanasia).
The CRF hosted an end-of-the-year reflection and celebration at the Los Angeles City Hall, and I helped conduct student and teacher evaluation reviews afterward (this amounted to me plowing through hundreds of CAP reviews and assessing response patterns). I am using that data right now to offer suggestions for program expansion and procedural revision in an effort to make CAP more successful next year. Additionally, I am making a video that broadcasts the forms of youth empowerment engendered by civic action in the community.