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We the People: Project Citizen

We the People: Project Citizen is a curricular program for middle, secondary, and post-secondary students and adult groups that promotes competent and responsible participation in local and state government. The program helps people learn how to monitor and influence public policy. In the process, they develop support for democratic values and principles, tolerance, and feelings of political efficacy.

Students work cooperatively to identify a public policy problem in their community. They then research the problem, evaluate alternative solutions, develop their own solution in the form of a public policy, and create a political action plan to enlist local or state authorities to adopt their proposed policy. Participants develop a portfolio of their work and present their project to a panel of civic-minded community members.


The Project Citizen program is administered with the assistance of a national network of state and congressional district coordinators in every state and is conducted with the assistance of the National Conference of State Legislatures. It is sponsored in Virginia by Virginia Civics.

Project Citizen Curriculum

Project Maverick: A Project Citizen Case Study

See how Douglas Freeman High School in Richmond, VA, has adapted the Project Citizen program to create its school-wide Project Maverick initiative. 

Every senior at Freeman participates in Project Maverick, with small groups of students working together to identify problems, research solutions, and propose public policy plans of action.

Video courtesy of Henrico Schools.


Professional Development for PC

Virginia Civics staff are happy to provide in-service training for schools and divisions on an as-requested basis, either in person or online. Reach out to us by email to schedule a professional development training for your staff. Trainings can be anywhere from one hour to a full day and can include hands-on projects with all materials included.

Get in Touch

Request a Project Citizen training.

Emily Voss

Emily Voss comes to civic education from the museum world, where she was passionate about making museums relevant to the modern world. She currently serves as the Manager of National Programs for the Center for Civic Education. Prior to that, she served as the Education Director at the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison’s Montpelier where she spent the past decade developing programs for adult professionals that invited engagement with America’s founding documents. She served as the Virginia State Coordinator of the We the People program for 10 years and is a co-founder of Virginia Civics. Emily holds a BA in History from Gettysburg College, and an MA in Museum Education from the Cooperstown Graduate Program (SUNY). She and her family currently reside in central Virginia.

Co-Executive Director & Chief Programs Officer

Jen Patja

Jen Patja has dedicated her career to strengthening constitutional self-government through her work with Virginia Civics, the Center for Civic Education, and Montpelier’s Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution, where she served as Deputy Director. Jen is a co-founder of Virginia Civics, and serves as a House of Delegates-appointed member of the Virginia Commission on Civic Education, a state legislative commission. She is the producer and editor of “Rational Security,” a weekly foreign policy and national security roundup, and “The Lawfare Podcast,” a daily audio production in cooperation with the Brookings Institution. Jen has held teaching and research positions at the University of Virginia, most notably in Criminology and the school’s University Internship Program with the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service. She received her master’s in Sociology from the University of Virginia, and a bachelor’s in English from the University of California, Berkeley.

Co-Executive Director & Chief Operating Officer

Amelia Bochain

Amelia Bochain has devoted her professional life to effective social studies education that fosters civil discourse. As a classroom teacher for nine years, she implemented project-based learning that focused on civic engagement and encouraging effective discussion skills. She is particularly passionate about the We the People program, where she coached teams that placed in regional, state, and national competitions.

State Coordinator