VA Civics is the home of We the People: the Citizen and Constitution and Project Citizen in Virginia
Through the student-focused We the People and Project Citizen programs, VA Civics brings civic learning into the 21st century by providing resources on challenging constitutional questions, rooted in the history and theory of the American founding.
We the People: the Citizen and the Constitution instructs students in the history and principles of American constitutional democracy, allowing them to study the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in depth. The program promotes civic competence and responsibility among the nation’s elementary, middle, and secondary school students.
Project Citizen promotes competent and responsible participation in local and state government. Through the program, students learn how to monitor and influence public policy. The curriculum fosters support for democratic values and principles, tolerance, and feelings of political efficacy, and it applies learning to real public policy issues of concern.
Teachers may choose to have their students compete in organized We the People competitions, which take the shape of simulated congressional hearings, or Project Citizen showcases. Virginia Civics organizes regional and state We the People competitions where students have the opportunity to compete against teams from across the Commonwealth, and we support in-school events.
Beth Herndon, Orange County High School
We the People: the Citizen and the Constitution was developed under the auspices of Chief Justice Warren Burger in the 1980s. The program has since been managed nationally by the Center for Civic Education, a non-profit that provides the format for the We the People program, produces supporting textbooks and materials, and organizes an annual national student competition each spring. In the three decades since its inception, We the People has been hailed for its effectiveness in engaging and educating young people on the U.S. Constitution and our government, instilling in them not only the knowledge, but also the skills and dispositions to participate constructively and continually in the civic life of our nation.
Since its inception, We the People has been consistently recognized as a standout in civic education. In repeated studies, Educational Testing Services found that We the People students “significantly outperformed… [other students] on every topic.” Similarly, assessments by experts at Georgetown University and Stanford University found that students who took part in We the People performed “significantly higher” on tests of civic knowledge and showed a “greater commitment to democratic principles.” The U.S. Department of Education has also praised We the People as “contributing to excellence in education.” Perhaps nothing is more telling than the simple statistic that over 90% of We the People alumni vote in every election, which is nearly twice the rate of their peers.
To better prepare students for their roles in our constitutional democracy, VA Civics offers professional development seminars for educators and provides teachers with full funding for a year of training opportunities, where renowned scholars teach content over a rigorous four-day Summer Institute, and shorter follow-up trainings in the fall and spring.
Consider applying for our yearly teacher training cohort for complete training and materials related to the We the People program.
We love to have program alumni involved in all aspects of Virginia Civics. Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org for volunteer opportunities in competitions, classroom support, and VA Civics operations.
The Virginia We the People program and other programs of VA Civics are only possible through the generosity of donors. Please consider making a gift to support the work of VA Civics through our online giving portal. We can accept gifts via cash, check, credit card, or transfer of stock. We appreciate recurring gifts, which are processed once monthly.
Absolutely not. Our programs encourage constitutional literacy and critical thinking. Students are taught the history of ideas and the reasons behind them, instead of merely memorizing a list of facts. Each lesson includes critical thinking exercises and interactive activities so they not only study information, but also interpret it through thought-provoking questions. As a result, students are able to think through what they are learning and form their own opinions based on reason and research.
Consider joining our Virginia Civics Coalition, a growing partnership dedicated to advancing effective civic education and engagement efforts through a shared commitment to nonpartisan, student-focused, comprehensive practices and policies.