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September 9, 2013

Back to school is an exciting time of year for everybody! It’s a time of familiar faces, new friends, lots of things to do, and so many new opportunities for learning. And that includes the Y4Y community! We have two webinars in September that are custom designed to address specific needs in the field.

First up is our next Coffee Break Webinar, Sustainability with Y4Y, on Thursday, September 12, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. (Eastern). Join us for an informal talk about how you can use Y4Y resources to support your program’s sustainability efforts. Coffee Break webinars are designed to give you more opportunities for interaction with the presenters, so bring your questions and your curiosity.

Next is our latest Quarterly Expert Webinar, Connecting with Civic Learning and Engagement, on Monday, September 16 at 1:00 p.m. (Eastern). Our guests will be Felicia Sullivan, Senior Researcher at the Center for Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University, and Jill Bass, Director of Curriculum and Teacher Development at the Center for Action Civics/Mikva Challenge. Join us as we explore the newest content on the Y4Y portal and understand what civic learning and engagement is, why it’s a priority for the Department of Education, and how you can use Y4Y to enhance civic projects in your program.

As always, registration for both of these webinars is totally free! Click the links above to register today. If you can’t make the scheduled times, remember that all Y4Y webinars are archived online and available any time and on virtually any device – even on your tablet or smartphone!  



August 20, 2013

We hope you’ve had the chance to explore some of the new content on Y4Y about civic learning and engagement. The page that introduces the concept describes the key goals and characteristics of a civic learning and engagement project.

Sometimes, though, the best way to understand the what, why, and how is through examples. Check out the following links for some examples of projects that bring the concept of civic learning and engagement to life.

Committed to Positive Change: Students describe projects they’ve started and describe what drove them to get involved in civic life.

A Special Kind of Project-Based Learning: In this example, see how additional activities and goals define a civic learning and engagement project as distinct from general project-based learning and service learning.

Civic Learning and Engagement in Action: This interactive web feature includes four examples that highlight the defining characteristics of civic learning and engagement projects, including hands-on activities and working with government agencies.

As you read through the examples and engage your imagination, you’ll start to get a sense of what types of civic learning and engagement projects might be a good fit for your students and your community!  



August 20, 2013

If you want students in your program to get going with civic learning and engagement projects, take the first step of equipping your staff with the tools, knowledge, and confidence they’ll need to implement this specialized kind of project. Kick things off with the Introduction to Civic Learning and Engagement Training to Go, which includes a fully-formed PowerPoint presentation, talking points, and handouts for a training session that gets your staff thinking about and planning for successful projects.

Or, if your staff already understand the basics, you may want to skip ahead and have them begin brainstorming ideas to implement in the program. Use Y4Y’s Brainstorming Civic Engagement Topics tool for an organized and productive brainstorming session among your team.  



August 20, 2013

In your program, you can help youth develop many of the 21st century skills they need to be successful in life through civic learning and engagement projects and other activities in your program. One of the unique aspects of civic learning and engagement is that it can help young people appreciate the diversity of America’s people, ideas, and values as they learn more about how these components interact to define communities and public policy.

Take the opportunity to develop this appreciation by using Y4Y’s Incorporating Multiple Viewpoints Checklist. The checklist will help you identify ways that the four domains of literacy (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) can be vehicles for building social competence and communication skills that are critical for active and successful citizens growing up in the 21st century.  



August 20, 2013

All programs strive to provide youth with hands-on learning that is memorable, meaningful, and authentic. Hands-on learning is also a component that is central to any well-planned project. That’s why project-based learning (including civic learning and engagement projects) is an excellent opportunity for programs.

When building a project, staff can ensure hands-on learning and provide youth with real-life experiences in their community by applying the approach of active investigation. As active investigators, students learn more about community issues from a firsthand perspective instead of just learning about them from facts and figures. Active investigation can mean charting the locations of garbage receptacles to discover gaps that might be leading to a litter problem. It can involve attending a city council meeting and asking a well-planned question about the proposed plans for new, safer lighting near the community center. Students can also think on a national or a global scale and actively investigate issues by connecting virtually with students and adults in another location.

There are many forms of active investigation that can fit your project and your students; check out these examples and see what might work for your next civic learning and engagement project.