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21st Century Community Learning Centers

Projects for Every Age

Civic learning and engagement projects at a local level, like the examples below, demonstrate to students that they can have some influence on the circumstances around them. While it’s important to discuss with students that they don’t have unlimited control over the decisions that affect their daily lives, it’s equally important — and empowering — to help them learn that they have degrees of influence, which expand as they get older and stay involved.

Younger Youth

The younger the child, the more important it is to connect civic action to direct outcomes. Often, this is best accomplished by identifying a challenge or issue within the context of a school or an afterschool setting. Within the right parameters, even very young children can identify an issue, connect with organizational leaders and take action to see the issue resolved.

Example: A group of elementary school students determine that the school vending machines offer only unhealthy options (candy, soda). They research the problem and put together a list of better choices for vending machines sales. Then, together with the school nurse and physical education teacher, they visit the principal, present their findings and ask for a change.

Older Youth

Middle and high school students are often concerned with injustice, and with issues that are likely to impact their personal lives. While their first impulse may be to take on very large concerns such as national legal policies, major polluters or international human rights issues, it is a good idea to guide their immediate attention to related issues closer to home.

Example: A group of high school students, concerned with violence against women around the world, direct their attention to raising awareness of domestic violence locally. Working with a battered women’s shelter and the local police department, they create a public service video program featuring local female business owners and politicians who have suffered domestic violence. The program not only raises awareness, but also increases contributions to the women’s shelter.

 

 

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Project-Based Learning

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Glossary

Project-Based Learning