Earlier this month, Google, which has a headquarters in Kirkland, announced a $100,000 Google.org grant to the Council on Public Legal Education to collaborate with iCivics on creating Washington’s own state-specific platform for iCivics: iCivicsWA.
This platform gives schools and after-school programs across the state access to Washington-specific civics lessons, aiming to increase student civic engagement, according to a press release. The grant makes Washington the second state in the nation to implement similar programming at no cost to students or teachers.
According to the release, iCivics is a national civic curriculum that uses online games, educational videos and other civic resources to teach students how government works and provides practice. The program was founded in 2009 by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to restore civic education in our nation’s schools.
“At Google we believe in the importance of civic knowledge and engagement, and that starts on a local level,” Darcy Nothnagle, head of external affairs for the Northwest at Google, said in the release. “iCivicsWA provides a fantastic opportunity for students to understand the political system in Washington state and energizes them to get involved locally and nationally.”
With the grant from Google, this resource will give access to state-of-the-art digital civic education experiences to every student in Washington at no cost, the release states. The first iteration of the site includes four lesson plans targeted to high school students. The site will be connected to the existing iCivics website, www.icivics.org, which contains civics curriculum on the federal government.
“We are excited to see these lesson plans launch in Washington state,” Margaret Fisher, state director for iCivics in Washington, said in the release. “This is a big step in teaching young people about our democracy and empowering them to participate.”
According to the release, Louise Dubé, executive director of the national iCivics program, will join Fisher to officially launch the platform as part of the Civic Learning Summit 2 on Jan. 23. Sponsored by the Council on Public Legal Education, Summit 2 will highlight progress made over the last year in addressing significant difficulties faced with civic education in the state.
The launch of iCivicsWA will help address how to reach all children in Washington with a quality civic learning education, the release states. The program will place an emphasis on reaching out to underserved youth — immigrant and refugee youth, youth of color and youth in rural communities.