We the People: Project Citizen is a curricular program for middle grade, high school and post-secondary students that promotes competent and responsible participation in local and state government. The program helps young people learn how to monitor and influence public policy. In the process, they develop support for democratic values and principles, tolerance, and feelings of political efficacy.
Entire classes of students or members of youth organizations work cooperatively to identify a public policy problem in their community. They then research the problem, evaluate alternative solutions, develop their own solution in the form of a public policy, and create a political action plan to enlist local or state authorities to adopt their proposed policy. Participants develop a portfolio of their work and present their project in a hearing showcase before a panel of civic-minded community members.
Project Citizen focuses on the role of state and local governments in the U.S. federal system. The curriculum involves an entire class of students or members of a youth organization, in a series of structured, cooperative learning activities that are guided by teachers, organization leaders, and adult volunteers. Working in cooperative teams, the students learn to interact with their government through a five-step process that includes:
1. identifying a problem in their community that requires a public policy solution
2. gathering and evaluating information on the problem
3. examining and evaluating alternative solutions
4. developing a proposed public policy to address the problem
5. developing an action plan to get their policy adopted by