Civics Week will encourage students to register to vote and participate in activities that empower their voices in our democracy; follow the latest with #YouthVoteNYC
NEW YORK --The de Blasio Administration recently launched its most robust civic engagement effort at schools of all grade levels and colleges across New York City. The effort will encourage students to register to vote and participate in the City's first-ever Civics Week program, which aims to increase civic participation and empower the voices of New York City students.
During Civics Week, students at Department of Education schools will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities that will help students hone their public speaking skills, encourage them to participate in Participatory Budgeting, connect students with community leaders and elected officials, and give students an opportunity to participate in town halls to discuss issues that matter to them and their communities. Hundreds of high schools also will be hosting student voter registration events, with the goal of registering thousands of young New Yorkers. Civics Week and the student voter registration drive are part of Mayor de Blasio's 10-point democracy agenda known as DemocracyNYC, which aims to increase civic engagement and strengthen democracy locally and nationally.
"In order to strengthen our democracy and mold the next generation of leaders, we need to begin teaching our kids the importance of civic engagement early in their lives," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "With Civics Week and programs such as Participatory Budgeting, we're empowering our kids and reminding them that they have the power to spark change in their communities by using their voices. I encourage everyone to participate in Civics Week to continue creating a fairer and stronger democracy at home and across the nation."
To support Civics Week and participating schools, the Department of Education developed instructional guides to help schools host voter registration drives and design activities that encourage civic participation. Schools interested in participating can access the guides here and here. Civics Week is part of the Department of Education's Civics for All initiative, which teaches students about the foundations of American government and the democratic process.
Some of the activities schools across the City will host include:
Participatory Budgeting: Civics for All's Participatory Budgeting In Your School will provide $2,000 for high school students to identify priorities and direct spending at 48 New York City public high schools. Students at these schools will engage in a participatory budgeting experience by identifying and proposing projects that are voted on by the entire school community. Each participating school will receive:
- A $2,000 allocation to fund the selected proposal.
- Training on how to integrate the project into a social studies course and, in partnership with Participatory Budgeting Project, how to successfully engage students in generating and voting on ideas.
SoapboxNYC: A K-12 public speaking competition that calls on students to speak out on issues that affect them and their communities. SoapboxNYC is led by Mikva Challenge's Project Soapbox and helps students develop, practice and hone their public speaking skills. School winners will compete in borough-wide contests later this year.
Poster Contest: Students will have an opportunity to participate in the City's Civics for All poster competition in which students are invited to showcase their artistic talent and civic engagement beliefs by exploring and creating posters that speak to important social issues, exercising student voice and examining the importance of voting and civic participation.
Guest Speakers: A variety of schools will host forums where student activist groups can connect with other students to speak about the importance of civic engagement and a variety of issues, including racial and gender equity, the environment, social media, how to write a petition and gun violence. Teams of activists from other American cities will also be visiting schools throughout the week to discuss issues of national significance and their related activism.
Town Halls: Students will be able to participate in town halls hosted by their schools to talk about issues that matter to them and their communities.
Additionally, the City will be working with DOE Schools, CUNY and other colleges to host Youth Vote NYC voter registration drives. College students will also have the opportunity to take a Civic Engagement Pledge to make a commitment to become more involved in their communities. For more information, visit nyc.gov/youthvote to download "how to host a drive" toolkits and watch videos of student activists speaking about the importance of participating in our democracy. Outreach specialists from the Mayor's Public Engagement Unit also will be at 70 high schools to support voter registration efforts.