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Rating: 5 stars  

I believe that we all need to work to improve our democracy in the USA by learning how to participate as active citizens in our government and by learning how to have productive, respectful and civil dialogue with people that have different experiences and beliefs. The Institute for Civility in Government offers experiential learning in these two areas with some excellent programs that are supported by generous donors.

I am most familiar with their Student Legislative Seminar in Washington, DC program and have participated over the last two years first as a community observer and then as a co-leader. This program brings high school students to Washington, DC where they learn about monuments, memorials, museums, government buildings and offices, the arts and public transportation systems in addition to receiving briefings on key issues chosen by the students and preparing statements that they deliver personally to their elected officials or their staffs.

Both of my student groups came from rural Texas high schools and for many of them this was a tremendous learning opportunity in which they learned how to travel by air, Metro, bus and foot in addition to learning about their government and Washington, DC. They learned a great deal about the complexities of their chosen issues and prepared clear, reasoned and in some cases provocative statements for their officials. We received appreciation from the Senate and House staffs for the quality and thoughtfulness of the student statements and the students received feedback as well on the what and why of the official positions. Overall I felt it was a good exchange and learning opportunity for all. Many students said that the experience opens their eyes to how they can make a meaningful impact and in some cases to pathways they will take after high school.

I will continue to support the Institute for Civility in Government both financially and as a volunteer because I believe it is making a very positive contribution to improving understanding, participation and impact on effective governing of our country. By also supporting the Institute you can help expand our reach to include more students in our programs and hopefully create a nucleus of prepared and motivated citizens for the future.

Role:  Board Member