WW Launches Civic Spring Project

The Civic Spring Project To Increase Civic Learning Opportunities For Young People Focusing On COVID-19 Pandemic Response

May 15, 2020

FOR RELEASE: DAY, May 15, 2020
CONTACT: Frances Hannan, Director of Multimedia Projects | 201-587-4755 | hannan@woodrow.org

Program Will Award Grants To Local Organizations, Partnerships Will Provide Effective Summer Civic Learning Experiences

PRINCETON, NJ (May 15, 2020) – The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation today launched the Civic Spring Project, which will catalyze a broad array of organizations to increase civic learning opportunities for young people. The Civic Spring Project will use the summer months to increase civic knowledge, skills, and engagement by creating incentives, support, and rewards for locally defined youth civic engagement initiatives aimed at meeting acute needs.

“As we adjust to new realities, civic action to address local needs has never been more important,” said Woodrow Wilson Foundation President Rajiv Vinnakota. “How we, as individuals, families, communities, organizations, experts and leaders, respond to the current situation is both a real-life civics test and opportunity to empower a new generation of civic leaders.”

The Civic Spring Project will award at least five grants (in the $75K–$100K range) to organizations that can meaningfully partner with, mentor, and involve young people. During summer 2020, partnerships that receive grants will address local community needs in responding to COVID-19 and/or building civic capacities for the 2020 election cycle. The program will seek to fund projects that are civic-minded, youth-oriented, nonpartisan, nimble, measurement-minded, and generative.

The initial programs will be designed by grantees and may include participation from groups such as community and nonprofit organizations, governmental agencies, businesses, out-of-school-time organizations, K-12 schools, higher learning institutions, and religious institutions. In addition to catalyzing local action in communities throughout the nation, the Foundation aims to demonstrate the lasting value and potential of civic learning and action.

“This moment could hold tremendous potential opportunities for young people, particularly those in high school and college, to increase their local knowledge, engagement and leadership while acquiring further civic skills,” said Mr. Vinnakota.

The Civic Spring Project was developed by nearly 40 subject-matter experts with the collective goal of creating a program that will catalyze summer civic knowledge and experience efforts, especially in light of COVID-19. Because schools and localities—the systems typically leading civic learning programs—continue experiencing stress and fatigue from combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, the Foundation and its partners want to tap into a group eager to help its community make productive change: youth.

In addition to input from civic learning experts, the Civic Spring Project was developed with insight and recommendations from young people who were members of the task force.  Youth will continue to have an engaged and meaningful role throughout this process, as young people will be part of the Selection Committee, as well as develop and co-lead the Community of Practice across all of the grantee programs.

“This type of partnership between students and adult allies is needed at this moment as we co-create new possibilities for civic action,” said Merrit Jones, President of Student Voice and member of the task force.

The Civic Spring Project will provide teens and young adults with the ability to connect with others across a wide range of socioeconomic and racial backgrounds. The experience is intended to increase understanding and social cohesion while individuals expand networks, especially those from marginalized populations.

Interested applicants are invited to submit their proposals through Monday, June 1, 2020 and can learn more and apply here: civic-spring.org

Grantees will be selected and announced in early June.


About the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation

Founded in 1945, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation (www.woodrow.org) identifies and develops the nation’s best minds to meet its most critical challenges. The Foundation supports its Fellows as the next generation of leaders shaping American society. Rajiv Vinnakota became president of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation in July 2019, after serving as Executive Vice President of the Youth & Engagement division at the Aspen Institute and as co-founder and CEO of The SEED Foundation. He also founded Red and Blue Works, a civic learning initiative, in spring 2019.


Civic Spring Project Partners:

– Sanda Balaban | YVote

– Ashley Berner | Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy

– David Bobb | Bill of Rights Institute

– Brian Brady | Mikva Challenge

– Andrew Brennen | Prichard Committee Student Voice Team

– Mary Jo Callan | University of Michigan–Edward Ginsberg Center

– Elise Corbett | Entercom

– Joe Daly | Bloomberg Philanthropies

– Mario Fedelin | Changeist

– Chris Gates | Philanthropy Bridging Divides

– Mary Ellen Giess | Interfaith Youth Core

– Abraham Goldberg | James Madison Center for Civic Engagement

– Jeannemarie Halleck | Waynflete

– Sarah Harris | Entercom

– Daniel Hart | Rutgers University – Camden

– Shawn Healy | McCormick Foundation

– Audrey Hutchinson | National League of Cities

– Merrit Jones | Student Voice

– Deb Jospin | Cities of Service

– Rebecca Kelley | National 4-H Council

– Matt Leighninger | Public Agenda

– Peter Levine | Tufts University’s Jonathan Tisch College of Civic Life

– Phebe Meyer | Clapham Group

– Jose Oromi | Horizons National

– Nikola Pavelic | Cities of Service

– Eileen Resnick | Sumners Foundation

– Mark Rodgers | Clapham Group

– Rose Rodriguez | Cities of Service

– Dara Rose | Horizons National

– Anna Saavedra | University of Southern California, Dornsife–Center for Economic and Social Research

– Stefanie Sanford | College Board

– Andrew Seligsohn | Campus Compact

– Bela Shah Spooner | National League of Cities

– Robert Sherman | Robert Sherman Consulting

– Julie Silverbrook | iCivics

– Lucian Spataro | Arizona State University

– Kurt Dean Squire | UCI Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences

– Leslie Gabay Swanston | National Summer Learning Association

– Tamara Tweel | Teagle Foundation

– Jane Williams | Horizons National

– Adam Zalisk | Amplify

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