The Center for Civic Participation provides education, training, and curriculum development to help people find and learn to effectively use their voice to advocate for issues they believe in. CCP offers several learning/doing formats designed for the various participatory citizens in our society.  Our initial focus has been on high school students and college students.  We also have sessions available for adults; these can be arranged as one night a week, four-week sessions for example.  All graduates of CPP programs will receive “diplomas” documenting their success and accreditation as is made available by the client institution or organization. In addition, we are available for teacher training and curriculum development focusing on helping students acquire the skills they need to actively participate in the political process.
I. Education

Effective citizen engagement requires knowing the political and civic landscapes. A civic education is more than knowing about the three branches of government, the judicial system, and the Constitution, though it certainly includes them as well. Advocates need to know how power is distributed to and used by the many factions that make up society. They need to be able to follow the money as well as how to raise money for their own initiatives. We provide models of effective organization and advocacy as well as insights into the politics, economics, and cultural systems that we all encounter daily and that must be understood in order to become an effective advocate for any issue.

II. Training

Citizenship is a craft that relies on people mastering various skills including effective communication (writing and speaking), using social and traditional media, knowing how to organize a campaign as well as how to attract and motivate members and backers to your cause and how to manage them efficiently. The Center for Civic Participation provides participants with these and other hands-on tools for organizing successful strategies to realize their goals.

II. Curriculum Development

The Center for Civic Participation works with schools and other educational institutions to help them develop curricula that are appropriate for their needs. Since we specialize in organizing and issue advocacy education and skills, our brand of “civics” is more action oriented than traditional courses on government and society. We provide blended curricula; courses and workshops that enable faculty to not just educate students but activate them using practical and real world lessons in the classroom and beyond.

The following are examples of projects the Center offers or has already conducted:

A.            High school summer academies

These would be one or two week-long programs at local colleges and could be boarding and/or day student accommodation.  The goals here would be to expose students to college environments as well as provide education in civics topics and have field trips as well as evening discussion/lecture/movie sessions.  High school programs incorporate state frameworks where applicable.

B.            High school in-residence programs

CPP staff would work within the school day as is typical with artist-in-residence programs.  Staffers would be “teachers” with a classroom for designated periods/sections each day.  After school learning opportunities would be included and feature trips to sites such as gardens, coops, recycling centers, renewable energy installations, government agencies.  Weekend activities could also be scheduled for additional learning/experiencing.

C.            High school teacher training programs

CPP will provide extensive teaching instruction in participatory civics and studies for faculty members.  These sessions could be summer institutes for teachers or on-site sessions during the school year, most likely over several Saturdays throughout the year.  Accreditation would be awarded to successful completion of training.

D.            College CPP training programs

CPP will be available to college wishing to enlist our services in order to supplement their existing civics studies programs or to serve as their primary civic engagement course.  Offerings can be tailored to meet the curricular needs of the particular institutions by varying the amount and mixture of subject matter and experiential learning.  CPP programs would include course credits as deemed appropriate by the participating college(s).  Programs could also include summer and January workshops.  CPP plans to hire “graduates” in order to expand the range of our offerings and to train others to help them spread participatory citizenship to their constituencies and communities.

E.            Adult CPP education programs

CEC will provide a series of programs for adults who want to become more environmentally literate and involved.  Typically these sessions would be held at and sponsored by local colleges with CEC trained staff conducting the classes and leading associated field trips.  These would be evening classes, supplemented by weekend day trips to significant environmental sites.

F.            CPP programs for the business sector

CPP will develop and offer day-long or multi-day sessions for members of the corporate world wishing to become proficient in managing environmental affairs: understanding their environmental impact and image, learning how to deal with the public and government concerning environmental issues as well as how to become more responsible and environmentally sustainable corporate citizens.  CPP will help corporations realize how to best be in fact and represent themselves as such.

G.            CPP training for the public sector

Civic responsibility is and ought to be a public responsibility. It is particularly important for government agencies to model good civic behavior.  Participatory civics in the public sector means that agencies practice what they preach and also improve their outreach to the public as well as the private sector relating to civic issues.  CPP will, among other things, show agencies what others have done to become more responsible and effective civic leaders.

H.            CPP online training

CPP staff plans to offer various online programs for the above groups. We currently conduct a course entitled “The Dynamics of Citizen Advocacy” out of the University Without Walls program of UMass/Amherst. These programs offer much of the same materials presented in our class instruction.  Of course, the applied, experiential components are absent, but detailed instruction on how to carry them out is included.  Online training would be fully accredited and conform with state frameworks where applicable.

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