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Google and the Council on Public Legal Education Team Up for Grant to Benefit Civic Education in Washington Schools

A fundamental understanding of how our country operates should be a goal for every resident of the United States. A system can thrive if those who live within it can comprehend how the government and all of its branches work.  In fact, our public schools were founded to teach young people to understand these structures, and to cultivate informed citizens. Unfortunately, the study of the rights and duties of citizenship has nearly disappeared from most school curriculums.

Because the success of any democratic system depends on the active participation of its citizens, the national nonprofit iCivics was founded in 2009 by Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to help improve civic education throughout the U.S. iCivics gives students the necessary tools to study and participate in civic life, and empowers teachers to develop a new generation of informed citizens using online games, videos and other resources. Their resources include print-and-go lesson plans, interactive digital tools, and award-winning games.

We at Google recently announced a $100,000 Google.org grant benefiting the nonprofit iCivics in collaboration with the Council on Public Legal Education. Washington State’s Council on Public Legal Education promotes public understanding of the law and civic rights and responsibilities. This grant will go toward creating Washington State’s own iCivics platform, iCivicsWA, to improve civic education and provide lessons to schools and after-school programs statewide.

We believe in the importance of civics knowledge and engagement, and that starts on a local level. iCivicsWA provides a fantastic opportunity for students to understand the political system in Washington State, and energize them to get involved locally and nationally.

Four Washington state-specific lesson plans targeted toward students in high school were released on Jan. 23rd. The lessons are also available online through icivics.org — which contains lessons on the federal government — with additional lessons to come in the future. Students from YMCA’s Youth in Government program at Hamilton International Middle School in Seattle were the first to test drive the iCivicsWA platform. Judge Marlin Appelwick, co-chair for the Council on Public Legal Education, also made an appearance.

Google, the Council on Public Legal Education, and iCivics have come together to create a new resource for young people to learn more about how their government works. Regardless of geography or income, young residents of the U.S. deserve an opportunity to learn about how our country operates.

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