Washington, D.C., 2015 Award Recipient

Reinvigorating civics education for a new generation of Americans

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Civic education in America is scarce and uneven despite the need for an engaged citizenry. Cuts in funding, assessment, and graduation requirements related to civics education leave students uninformed about the basic rights and duties of citizenship.

iCivics is reinvigorating civics learning for a new generation of Americans through engaging online video games and classroom resources that encourage innovative thinking. Founded by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in response to the declining quality of civics education in U.S. schools, iCivics is re-imagining learning through online role playing games that put students in the driver’s seat, equipping them with agency to think through and make the difficult choices that democracy requires.

Games like Do I Have a Right? and Executive Command allow students to run their own law firm and advise about citizen rights, or be the president and learn about our representative democracy. Other games, like Argument Wars and We the Jury, develop skills related to argumentation and careful deliberation. iCivics also creates digital tools to help students develop the skills necessary to be an engaged citizen, including writing persuasive essays and reading foundational texts.

iCivics has partnered with education technology companies to develop new tools, services, and distribution models for disseminating their learning products. Most recently, iCivics collaborated with the MacArthur-supported Games Learning and Assessment Lab (GlassLab) at Electronic Arts to explore the use of its game data to provide real-time feedback to teachers about student performance. This new service will help teachers efficiently customize use of iCivics resources for each student’s learning needs.

iCivics is the most widely adopted civics curriculum in the country. More than 60,000 educators – more than 40 percent of middle school social studies teachers— use iCivics resources, and they serve more than six million youth in classrooms and after-school programs in all 50 states and internationally. It has published 20 educational video games and more than 120 lesson plans, offering the most comprehensive, standards-aligned civics curriculum available freely on the Internet.

iCivics will use its $750,000 MacArthur Award to establish a revolving venture fund to support innovation and financial sustainability, to strengthen fundraising capacity, and to equip a new Boston office.

Grantee Profile: Learn more about iCivics

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