We received many outstanding applications for the Civic Spring Project from across the country. We are grateful for all those who took the time to submit proposals; it is heartening to witness how much important youth-led work is being planned and taking place at this particular moment in history.
Our Selection Committee has chosen to highlight following projects as Civic Spring Project (CSP) Honorable Mentions. Please take time to read through the following project descriptions and consider supporting their good work, as these worthwhile projects did not receive direct funding from WW Foundation largely because we had no more funds to allocate to these worthy projects. If you would like access to the full proposals for any of these projects, please contact the person listed or reach out to CSP Program Officer, Jeannemarie Halleck at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congratulations to the CSP Honorable Mentions!
C.B. Community Schools
C.B. Community Schools (CB) in Philadelphia, PA is a small high school serving 70 vulnerable young people in the child welfare system each year. At CB, our healing-centered, community schools model focuses on building the skills and knowledge to enhance student agency, build empathy and support students to think critically about the world. Our student-led project focuses on responding to the mental health needs of young people as a result of the current COVID-19 crisis and racial justice mobilizations. Our resilient students know that their mental health is deeply impacted by these crises and they want to take civic action; through multimedia projects with our community partners, CB students want to support their peers faced with similar experiences. CB will work in partnership with two local organizations experienced in working with youth-led initiatives, MilkCrate Tech and Minding Your Mind (MYM). Students will engage in a mixed-mode, socially distanced and virtual civic learning project to create content related to mental health support for young people with trauma. Students will work on the mental health component of our CB app in partnership with Milkcrate Tech to increase the immediate support our school can provide to the CB student body and alumni during these times.
Contact: Sara Schwartz, Director of Communications & Development, email@example.com, 610.256.0944,
We Raise New Jersey
We Raise New Jersey (WRNJ) is a diverse coalition united in the belief that New Jersey students need and deserve a world-class education to effectively compete and succeed in our rapidly changing world. We are collaborating with Parent Impact to launch a new program to integrate New Jersey students into WRNJ initiatives. Parent Impact is a New Jersey non-profit whose mission is to empower, advocate, and connect families to resources that support their families’ needs for greater outcomes in urban communities. Together we will recruit a diverse group of high school and early college students from across the state to act as paid advisors on education and civic engagement issues in New Jersey. Our Youth Leadership Ambassadors (YLAs) will be compensated for participating in a two-way exchange with our coalition. They will receive training and mentorship in civic engagement and education policy and will provide input and ideas to inform WRNJ’s advocacy agenda for the future. Following the summer program, WRNJ will continue to engage YLAs with supplemental training on New Jersey governance, education policy, and interpersonal and soft skills. Additional projects and opportunities during the commitment include co-creating campaigns, surveys, and resources with other stakeholder groups within the coalition, as well as mentorship from coalition members and advisors.
Partner: Parent Impact
Contact: Mary O’Malley, Steering Committee Leader, firstname.lastname@example.org, 973.886.2817
As in much of the country, the current COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing inequities and issues in Trenton, NJ. Locally, as of late May, just over 40% of Trenton households completed their census form; in the most recent municipal elections, less than 23% of registered voters participated, with a potential unregistered 20,000 residents; and over the past weeks, gun-related violence has spiked. Accordingly, we propose a project that addresses these issues—COVID-19 education, voter registration and participation, Census participation, violence prevention, and community engagement—through a coordinated training program of civic skills, knowledge, dispositions, and capacities. Biweekly education, training, and discussion meetings will provide the skills needed to develop content for and conduct a social media outreach and engagement campaign, the knowledge needed to understand and situate current local, regional, and national conditions, and the dispositions and capacities to meaningfully and reflectively engage and evaluate social and political realities locally, regionally, and nationally. The long-term goal of this project is to deepen the bench of civically informed and engaged individuals in Trenton so that they can enter into positions of power where they can improve and enhance the political, social, and economic conditions of the City and the region.
Contact: Michael Nordquist-Managing Director, Community Planning & Development, email@example.com, 609.341.4713
The Mississippi Youth Leadership Initiative for Health Equity (MYLIFE)
Through MYLIFE, the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation will develop a curriculum component for our flagship Summer Youth Institute (SYI) program that explores COVID-19 through a public health perspective. With the help of our partners at Jackson State University’s School of Public Health–the only accredited school of public health in Mississippi–the students, rising high school sophomores and juniors whom we refer to as SYIers, will design and hold local public workshops in their communities — 28 of them, across Mississippi. Knowledge of health disparities and their causes will allow SYIers to explore public health issues close to home. SYIers will incorporate locally focused information for their community audiences and help to shine a light on the systemic shortcomings of healthcare delivery in Mississippi, as well as the relationships connecting race, poverty, and health. Their work will be memorialized on a website that lifts up each of their counties and will be updated as time passes to reflect current health developments. SYIers will hold a timely second workshop in fall 2020 or spring 2021 to discuss new issues and evolving perspectives as knowledge about COVID-19 grows. SYI 2020 will be remote and will take place over two weeks. The Winter Institute will provide SYIers the software and hardware necessary to create virtually the life-changing community building, history, and organizing lessons that they typically receive in person over an immersive nine-day period.
Partners: Jackson State University School of Public Health, Mississippi
Contact: Von Gordon; firstname.lastname@example.org; 601.557.0056, ext. 701
Maine Students Vote
Maine Student Vote seeks funding to strengthen and expand our current student-led democratic engagement model to reach even more high school and college students this summer in all corners of our state. With additional funding we will be able to train civic team captains, design peer-to-peer organizing plans, register students to vote, draft contingency plans for a possible remote/hybrid semester, and strum up energy and enthusiasm for the 2020 general election through nonpartisan youth voter campaigns and collaborations. The activities listed in this proposal will primarily take place from July-September 2020. By providing critical training to students, building a robust network of civic champions, and working with schools and campuses on action planning, we are uniquely positioned to provide additional support to not only increase the youth voter turnout, but to pave the path for the next generation of civic leaders in Maine.
Partner: League of Women Voters
Contact: Meg McCormick, Director, Maine Students Vote, email@example.com, 207.891.1022
This project is a partnership between Liberty’s Promise, Community Youth Advance, and the News Literacy Project, and consists of engaging youth leaders in the 2020 elections cycle. We will work with 40 youth from underrepresented communities in the Washington, DC Metro area to better inform and engage communities of color on their rights and the 2020 election cycle. Liberty’s Promise will work with 25 immigrant youth, and Community Youth Advance will work with 15 male African American youth. This project, which we call, We Are All the Future, will combine civic education with youth-driven civic action. Through it, we hope to achieve the following:
- increase youth’s understanding of and participation in the 2020 election cycle,
- provide youth with the necessary skills to be civically engaged and become well-informed members of the community,
- help youth advocate for their rights and for the collective good of the community, and
- encourage them to become the next generation of leaders in their community.
At the end of the program, we expect that our youth will be a) well-informed on the election process and how the local government works, b) capable of presenting in public to a large group of peers and c) feel more civically engaged in their communities. We believe this project can be easily replicated in communities across the country.
Partners: Community Youth Advance, News Literacy Project
Contact: Robert M. Ponichtera, Ph.D., Executive Director, Liberty’s Promise, 703.549.9950
This summer, Mikva Challenge plans to strengthen direct-service out-of-school summertime programs for young people to define, promote, and expand policies related to COVID-19 responses as they relate to public education systems. With support, Mikva Challenge is hiring high-school-aged youth from across the nation to participate in summer programs developed around an action civics curriculum and focused on a Youth Council model. We plan to hire youth in Chicago, in Washington DC, and from across the country (reflecting urban/suburban and rural communities) to participate as Civic Partners. Mikva Challenge participants will delve deeply into public policy issues surrounding COVID-19 and develop meaningful, researched and informed recommendations to inform education-system and school policies and practices. Mikva Challenge’s innovative programming will provide participants with the opportunity to develop their voice, civic literacy, identity, and leadership skills in addition to the tools and platform to advocate for change.
Mikva Challenge will connect young people in our cohort to partner with education leaders to implement a few of their best policy ideas. Mikva Challenge partners with the Chicago Public Schools, DC Public Schools, and NYC Department of Education; leaders from these school districts will be asked to participate in a virtual Town Hall with participating young people to explore their policy solutions. Mikva Challenge also partners with over 15 school districts across the country, both rural- and urban-, who will also be invited to learn from this virtual event. This initiative will ensure youth are a part of local–and national–COVID-19 policy discussion by giving young people an opportunity and platform to create and promote youth-appropriate solutions to education challenges caused by the pandemic.
Partners: Chicago Public Schools, DC Public Schools, NYC Dept. of Education
Contact: Jamie Dillon, Director of Development, firstname.lastname@example.org, 312.863.6345
Young people are powerful engagement leaders, particularly in intergenerational teams where youth and adults learn together about how to make engagement practices more meaningful, equitable, and powerful. Our project will explore a particularly promising and innovative direction for this learning: supporting young people to develop new examples of public engagement during his tumultuous time. As communities in New Hampshire and all over the country are scrambling to find new ways for residents, officials, and institutions to interact, these youth-led demonstrations of productive engagement have enormous potential to change institutional practices and inspire further innovations.
Partners: Pittsfield Listens, Granite State Organizing Project, DHS Project Dream
Contact: Michele Holt-Shannon, Director, NH Listens, Michele.Holt-Shannon@unh.edu, 603.862.0692