Generation Citizen applauds Utah legislature for passing innovative civic engagement program pilot

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SALT LAKE CITY, UT ―  On March 10, 2020, the Utah legislature passed HB 334, a landmark, three-year civic engagement program pilot that builds on the state’s culture of volunteerism and community engagement by introducing a commitment to local innovation and project-based civics. The landmark bill provides $414,200 in state-level funding, including operational costs handled at the state-level, for teacher professional development, evaluation design, and district support to implement project-based civics in at least three participating districts, or local educational agencies (LEAs). When signed by Gov. Gary Herbert, the law will uphold the values of Utah’s commitment to character and civic education by:

  • Implementing a three-year civic engagement pilot program, intended to evaluate the benefits of, and methods for, implementing a civic engagement project requirement for high school graduation.

  • Selecting participating LEAs from diverse geographic areas, with varying student population sizes.

  • Providing support for teacher training and professional development.

  • Requiring the Utah State Board of Education to report the pilot program’s results to the Education Interim Committee.

“Utahns have a long tradition of civic engagement and volunteerism. Our commitment to strengthening our communities is what has always set our state apart,” says Rep. Daniel Johnson, R-Logan, sponsor of HB 334. “By launching this pilot program, Utah will set the bar for what it means to encourage local innovation, spur civic readiness, and equip students to be engaged citizens in the 21st century.”

“We are incredibly excited that the Utah legislature took this decisive action in passing this bill with such widespread majorities in both chambers,” said Scott Warren, co-founder and CEO of Generation Citizen. “This action demonstrates that the push and desire for 21st century civics education is real, non-partisan, and happening across the country,” said Scott Warren, co-founder and CEO, Generation Citizen. 

“A coalition of teachers, district leaders, history providers, and civic education stakeholders from across the state of Utah partnered deeply with lawmakers to make HB 334 a reality. Its passage illustrates what’s possible when relationship-building and crafting statewide policy meets abiding respect for the unique role of local innovation and teachers in providing project-based civics,” said Andrew Wilkes, Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy, Generation Citizen.

HB 334 is the first, important step towards ensuring that all students in the state are prepared to assume the duties and responsibilities of citizenship through accessing project-based, experiential civic learning. Utah’s example of a well-designed, funded pilot civic engagement pilot program is a national model for other states to consider. The program is rooted in the state’s historic, interrelated commitments to character and civic education.

Utah’s civic engagement pilot program is the latest evidence that the students in Utah—as well as the entire country—deserve access to project-based civics and experiential learning that prepares them for lifelong civic engagement. HB 334’s bold affirmation of hands-on, real-world civics builds on the legislative successes of Massachusetts, Illinois, and Florida—all of which took statewide policy action to provide comprehensive civics education.