Generation Citizen (GC) is excited to have launched its program last week in ten middle and high schools in the San Francisco Bay Area of California.
GC partners volunteer Democracy Coaches – students from area colleges – with middle and high school teachers to help empower young people to take action on issues they care about in their local communities by using the political process. GC is bringing civics education back into the classroom while simultaneously revolutionizing how it is taught; its ultimate vision is a democracy in which every citizen participates.
Students choose a local issue that matters most to them, ranging from gang violence to drop-out rates to lack of teen jobs. Twice a week, during class time, Democracy Coaches collaborate with classroom teachers to lead the students in exercises to identify the root cause of the issue, determine who or what can effect a change, and then take the necessary actions that will have an influence.
Scott Warren, Executive Director of Generation citizen makes the analogy to science class. “In science we don’t just lecture at students, we give them experiments to do. They learn science by doing science. In civics education, we usually just talk about how a bill becomes law. GC’s action civics program gives young people the tools to actually do something about the issues that matter to them. They learn politics by doing politics.”
Generation Citizen’s launch into the Bay Area marks its first foray out of the Northeast, as it becomes a truly national organization. “We’re excited for students throughout the Bay Area to make their voices heard, and to work on issues that really matter to them,” said Danielle Love, GC’s Bay Area Site Director. GC will work with 1,500 students in the Bay Area this year.
In the Bay Area, Democracy Coaches have been recruited from San Francisco State University, University of California, Berkeley, City College of San Francisco, and University of San Francisco. Additional colleges and secondary schools will be added each year. In addition to the Bay Area, Generation Citizen has programs in New York City, Boston and Rhode Island, and an affiliate program in Fort Collins, Colorado. Nationally, GC will reach over 10,000 students this year.
Generation Citizen has been recognized by funders including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Echoing Green, the S.D Bechtel Foundation, The Westly Foundation, and the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, as one of the most innovative and effective organizations working to address the problem of democratic disengagement.
Inaugural Schools in the Bay Area
Barack Obama Academy
Buchanan YMCA (KIPP Bay Academy and Gateway Middle School)
Coliseum College Prep Academy
Creative Arts Charter School
John O’Connell High School
Mission High School
Paul Revere School
Skyline High School
Urban Promise Academy