ELEVATE: Generation Citizen | Oklahoma Department of Commerce

ELEVATE: Generation Citizen

A non-profit program teaches students action civics.

Homelessness, hungry children, gun violence and pollution are just a few of the issues Oklahoma students are tackling through a social studies program called Generation Citizen.

“Our whole mission is to ensure every student across the country receives at least one semester of high-quality action civics before they graduate,” said Amy Curran, executive director of Generation Citizen in Oklahoma. “We very intentionally focus on local government because real change happens at the local level, and that’s where students can have influence.”

Generation Citizen is a non-profit that works directly with teachers and administrators. It offers training and support to bring action civics into the classroom. The organization works with 25 schools in 10 cities throughout the state.

In December, more than 180 students attended Generation Citizen’s Fall Civics Day at Oklahoma City Community College to share their semester-long work on local issues. Civics Day is like a science fair, where students will present their action projects to a range of community members.

“We’re not of voting age yet. We don’t feel like we can make an impact on the community through legislation or protesting. We feel like we have to wait until we’re adults to make change. With this program, I feel like we are able to, and I feel like that’s really cool,” said Maggie Housley, eighth-grade student.

“Students feel like their voices aren’t heard by adults, and we have to change that. We have to show them that we can make a change and so can you,” said Kaylyn Simmons, eighth-grade student.

In the spring of 2019, five classroom projects from the program became bills. All five made it through committee, and two made it to the Governor’s desk.

“It’s the future of social studies education and curriculum,” said Kenady Maynard, eighth-grade teacher at Alcott Middle School in Norman. “It takes a lot of pressuring your students to get outside their comfort zones, but to me, that’s what makes it great.”

To see how the program works, watch “Elevate: Generation Citizen.”

Generation Citizen Video

To find out how to bring Generation Citizen to your school, go to www.generationcitizen.org.

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