Among seven solutions to the deep polarization that grips our country, a majority of Americans chose K-12 civic education as the best solution. Well known pollster Frank Luntz conducted a pro-bono poll for CivXNow. The research tapped the opinions of a representative sample of the American electorate. When asked which would have the most positive and meaningful impact on strengthening the American identity, Americans chose civic education as the number one choice among other options such as: “a year of national service,” “money in politics,” or “ranked choice voting.” Most importantly, Democrats and Republicans both chose it equally. 

When interviewed about the results of the poll and the most immediate need, Mr. Luntz noted President Reagan’s statement that, “Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation.” 

Referring to the results of the poll, Mr. Luntz also noted that the most pressing task before us is to ensure the continued health of freedom and democracy is “to teach young people the skills to think critically, assess the quality of sources, and distinguish facts and information from misinformation and disinformation.” As he put it, “a healthy democracy requires a healthy dose of informed skepticism and an effective, functioning unbiased media.”

In concluding what CivXNow members should take from the survey, Mr. Luntz said, “Not only are you on the right path, but you are essential to the future health of this country. Particularly in light of this election, you should redouble your efforts to bring about a greater commitment to civic education even sooner. We are running out of time. We are losing a generation. We need civic knowledge right now.” 

Inside this newsletter
  • Bipartisan $1 Billion Bill for Civics - Thank You and We Need More Support!
  • 2020-2021 Equity in Civics Youth Fellowship Application Open
  • Advocating for Civics During Pandemic and State Budget Crunches 
  • Mark Your Calendar - Upcoming Events
  • Ways to Get Involved - Election Resources and Volunteering 
Bipartisan $1 Billion Bills for Civics - Thank You and We Need More Support!

On September 17th, Constitution Day, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) introduced the bipartisan HR 8295, the "Educating for Democracy Act" of 2020, a measure to direct funding to states and local education agencies to support civic and history Education. Congresswoman DeLauro is the Chair of the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, and Congressman Cole is the Ranking Member of that Subcommittee.

Thank you to the over 80 organizations that already endorsed this bipartisan legislation! If your organization would like to sign-on as an endorsing institution, please fill out this form. This bill is the first proposed investment in civic education that is commensurate with the critical need to protect the health of our constitutional democracy. We thank Congresswoman DeLauro and Congressman Cole for their leadership in introducing this bill which would make a critical investment in, and significantly strengthen, civic education in our nation. As a Coalition, we are committed to making high quality, equitable civic learning accessible to all, and this legislation is an important step in that direction. 

We need you to spread the word about the ‘Educating for Democracy Act.” Please contact your Congressperson in the U.S. House of Representatives to ask that they co-sponsor the bill. Use our template script to assist in your outreach.
To reach your U.S. Representative:
  • Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121, ask for your House member, once connected to their office, ask to speak to whomever handles education issues for the Congressperson (you may have to leave a voicemail). Ask that staffer to ask the Member to co-sponsor HR 8295, the ‘Educating for Democracy Act,’ introduced by Representatives DeLauro and Cole, that would dramatically improve civic and history. Offer to send the staff member the summary of the bill and the “Dear Colleague” letter.
  • Email or write to your U.S. Representative by visiting, and entering your zip code in the box in the upper right hand corner. From there, you can go to the member’s website, where you will find their mailing address, phone number, and a feature for constituents to make requests or send comments to the House member. Please send all communications to their Washington, DC office, not their district offices.

Then, send a communication to your networks, staff, Board, participating teachers, supporters, and others to ask that they reach out to their U.S. House members to request co-sponsorship of the bill. Use this communication to craft your message to your network, including the bill summary and the “Dear Colleague” letter sent to all members of Congress by Representatives DeLauro and Cole. 

Thank you to those organizations that have already spread the word!

Please note: We are not contacting U.S. Senators about the legislation at this time.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact Ted McConnell, CivXNow Sr. Policy Advisor at [email protected].

Media Coverage of HR 8295, the "Educating for Democracy Act” of 2020:
2020-2021 Equity in Civics Youth Fellowship Application Open

The Equity in Civics Youth Fellows are middle and high school students who leverage their unique civic experiences to shed light on the ways in which civic education, civic engagement platforms, and civic institutions can create more inclusive spaces. As student ambassadors for equity in civics, Fellows engage in rich dialogue and explore the pressing issues facing our nation while adding necessary youth voice, perspectives, and talents to the CivXNow movement. 

Applications for the 2020-2021 class of Fellows are due Sunday, October 4th. 
Check out our Medium page to learn more, apply, or nominate a student! 

Fellows have the opportunity to engage with experts in the fields of civics, education, policy, and media and represent CivXNow on panels and at events throughout the country. The Fellowship is a paid year-long program for students in grades 7 through 12 to lend their voice to the discussion on equity in civic education. Our goal is to cultivate a deeper appreciation for student voices in the field of civics which we accomplish by facilitating student-led discussions about civic education with equity at the center to ensure student perspectives are represented in the national dialogue.
Advocating for Civics During Pandemic and State Budget Crunches 

This month, CivXNow spotlights John Schneider, Managing Director of External Affairs at Mass Insight Education & Research about the struggles and learnings from advocating for civic learning in Massachusetts during a time of global pandemic and state budget shortfalls. Schneider is a member of the CivXNow State Policy Task Force representing the Massachusetts Civic Learning Coalition (MCLC). In his role with MCLC, he serves on the state-level Coalition’s Steering Committee and chairs its Advocacy Subcommittee. 

In 2018, the Massachusetts Legislature passed, and Governor Charles Baker signed into law, S.2631 An Act to promote and enhance civic engagement. This law requires every middle and high school in the Commonwealth to provide students with the opportunity to participate in at least one student-led civics project, as part of their civics curriculum—a first in the nation. The law authorizes a Civics Project Trust Fund, to be supported with state funds and private funding, to support training and implementation of the law. Passing the legislation was an important first step. Now MCLC, which organized to pass the bill, is continuing to advocate to ensure full implementation. 

Q: Tell us about Mass Insight Education & Research (Mass Insight) and your role in the implementation of the Massachusetts civics law?

Schneider: Mass Insight, is a nonprofit consulting firm providing leadership in policy and practice focused on improving schools and closing opportunity gaps. We are Boston-based but work with schools across the country. We became a member of the Mass Civic Learning Coalition (MCLC) in part to support the College Board’s Two Codes initiative which provides high school students access to college-level computer science and American government courses through the Advanced Placement program.

Q: What advocacy and or lobbying activities are you currently engaged in?

Schneider: MCLC is currently focused on the FY21 state budget and the implementation of the Mass Civics Project Trust Fund, which was funded for the first-time last year at $1.5 million. 

Q: How has the pandemic affected your advocacy efforts? 

Schneider: Needless to say, it has really changed how we meet and connect with legislators and staff. And not just the formal meetings that advocates have with legislators, but also the casual networking encounters—what I call, in a thick Boston accent, the “Hi, How are you?” chance meeting—that are so important to building relationships and being in the loop about state policy. I miss that the most.

Q: Are you finding it difficult to get policymaker's attention? 

Schneider: We are doing okay. One lesson from this work is that it is so important to build relationships with legislators, “early and often.” In January this year—it seems so long ago—MCLC sponsored a thank you event at the State House that was very well attended. So in June, when we organized several virtual lobbying days to focus our outreach efforts on our FY21 budget request, we were well received and not a Johnny-come-lately to legislators. We had more than 40 meetings with legislators and staff during the virtual lobbying days and, with additional outreach, we have since connected with over 60 legislators and staff. What’s frustrating is that our legislature is waiting for Congress to decide this month on a Covid relief package before finalizing the budget. Regardless, the state budget looks grim for FY21 and maybe even FY22.

Q: What tactics are you using to get policymakers’ attention?

Schneider: We prepared a very thorough report on MCLC’s work and the implementation of the trust fund and shared that as part of our lobbying meetings and subsequent communications. Data and results combined with stories can make a difference. We are planning additional outreach to the legislature soon to make sure they are invited to an upcoming civics conference at the end of September.

Q: What are you hearing about your state legislature’s session next year?

Schneider: Ha, we are still in session! It was supposed to end on July 31st but the rules were suspended and the session extended. Massachusetts is currently operating on a 1/12th budget, approving funding on a month-to-month basis, and it will be October or November before the FY21 budget is completed.  

Q: How do you effectively manage a coalition and coordinate its advocacy activities during the pandemic?
Schneider: MCLC is fortunate to have some excellent part-time and student staff that has helped mobilize and support volunteers like me in the lobbying work. They were, and continue to be, instrumental in the coordination of our efforts. I also can’t say enough about the work that happened prior to this year in building support for this work. Relationships matter, a lot.

Q: Are you encountering political pushback regarding your efforts, people saying you’re advocating for things that are too conservative or too liberal?

Schneider: We are fortunate in Massachusetts that there is bipartisan consensus about the importance of civic education and support has come from both the legislature and the Governor. I guess we will soon see how deep that support really is as agreement is reached over an FY21 spending plan.

Q: What advice do you have for coalitions in other states who are encountering difficulty in getting their message through during the pandemic? 

Schneider: Three thoughts: 1) Don’t wait until the next pandemic to develop relationships with key legislators and members of the administration. 2) Explain in a clear and concise way—no jargon, please—how civics education supports student learning and ways that you are helping teachers teach during the pandemic. 3) Keep working at building a big, bipartisan table with plenty of room for different political views BUT where there is consensus that learning about history, government, civics, and social change is important to the future of our nation and republic.

For more information, read the CivXNow case study, The Massachusetts Model
to learn about MCLC and their successful efforts 
to form a state-level coalition, pass legislation, and fund implementation.
Mark Your Calendar - Upcoming Events

Find out more about upcoming events hosted by CivXNow and Coalition members!

Student Summit on Civics
Commonwealth Club, in partnership with CivXNow, will be presenting a webinar in October highlighting the need for student voice and civic education during these unprecedented times. Join 2020 Equity in Civics Youth Fellows A’Niya Bankston (CA), Matthew Green (PA), Marcus McNeill (MA), and Viren Mehta (CA) for a student-led discussion on the issues that are most important to this generation and their solutions moving forward moderated by journalist Moriah Balingit of The Washington Post.

Student Summit on Civics
Tuesday, October 6th | 6-7pm ET
CivXNow Open Forum: Equity in Civic Education 
Where are the opportunities to actively pursue equity in our organizations and the field? During these historic times we are being called by our constituents to engage in creative solutions that help us tackle the realities today's students are facing in the classroom and beyond. Realizing that many of us sit somewhere along the continuum from how to successfully implement equity in civics programming to understanding what equity in civics means to your organization, CivXNow is facilitating space to explore this critical issue as a field. We don't have all the answers but will shared some insights from the Equity in Civics Steering Committee; a project supported by the Hewlett Foundation and in partnership with Generation Citizen, which has been focused on equity over the past year.

Join Verneé Green of Mikva Challenge, Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg of CIRCLE, and Andrew Wilkes of Generation Citizen and moderator Amber Coleman-Mortley of iCivics for a collaborative discussion. This is not a panel; rather an exchange between organizations. Guests are encouraged to bring their success stories, burning questions, insights, and expertise to the event. 

Help shape the conversation by letting us know what steps your organization is taking to address both internal and external diversity, equity, and inclusion by filling out the brief survey here

CivXNow Open Forum: Equity in Civic Education
Tuesday, October 20th | 5-6:15pm ET

Meeting the Moment: Renewing Democracy through Civic Learning
New Hampshire Institute for Civics Education, in partnership with the Warren B. Rudman Center at the University of New Hampshire School of Law, presented a William W. Treat Lecture to celebrate Constitution Day featuring CivXNow Advisory Council members, Louise Dube and Ted McConnell. 

Ways to Get Involved - Election Resources and Volunteering

Do you have resources to help educators teach the election? Let us know, and we’ll distribute them in the next newsletter!

Are you interested in becoming more involved in CivXNow? Fill out this form to volunteer with our upcoming initiatives!
Your CivXNow Team

Our CivXNow team facilitates the publication of this newsletter.

In addition, we are supported by (and very grateful to) several members of the Coalition who - very generously - contribute their energy, time and guidance including: Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Mikva Challenge, PACE, McCormick Foundation, Tufts University, Citizen University, Ronald Reagan Foundation, JFK Library Foundation, ConSource, National Conference on Citizenship, Generation Citizen, and many many others who support individual projects.


Louise Dubé
Executive Director
iCivics, Inc.
Cambridge, MA