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Orange County, CA November 5, 2002 Election
Smart Voter

Pew Charitable Trust High School Civic Engagement Project

By Thomas C. Wilson

Candidate for Board Member; Laguna Beach Unified School District

This information is provided by the candidate
I was instrumental in LBHS becoming part of this unique and exciting grant program whic is currently underway
The Pew Charitable Trust, one of America's largest foundations, has a long-standing interest in civic engagement. Recently they established a new program, which will fund innovative precollegiate civic engagement efforts.

A recent grant made by Pew as a part of this initiative has funded a national project headquartered at Providence College in Rhode Island. The goal of this project is to provide one-year grants of $100,000 to 10 clusters of 20-25 high schools that are interested in examining the civic engagement opportunities available to students in each school.

These school clusters will use grant funds to employ a full time coordinator for the project and to cover additional expenses. The coordinator will work with each school, helping to organize and implement the program.

Each school in the cluster will select a teacher who will receive a small stipend from Providence College, to take responsibility for the project on that campus.

The teacher will organize a small group of "lead students" who will be trained by the project to conduct a campus "audit" to assess what their school does well to provide opportunities for students to engage in the public life of the school and community. Included in the audit might be information about levels of participation in extra-curricular activities; internship, volunteer and political campaign opportunities and student forums or other places where students have a chance to discuss and debate public issues.

Data collected in the audits would be used to begin a school wide conversation, facilitated by the "lead students" about 1) the issues students are passionate about that would cause them to get engaged civically, 2) opportunities their school provides or might provide in the future for civic engagement. These deliberations would conclude with the development of action plans in each school to implement one or two new strategies or enhancements to existing activities for civic education and civic engagement.

The national project will culminate in the production of a set of findings that would be used to suggest a national strategy of using high schools as sites for enhancing youth civic engagement.

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