New Grant Awards for American History and Civics Education

Today, the U.S. Department of Education awarded three new grants under the American History and Civics Education’s Academies and National Activities programs to provide students greater opportunity to learn about the rich history of our nation and build the skills needed to fully participate in civic life. The American History and Civics programs enable institutions of higher education, non-profit organizations, and other interested applicants to explore innovative and creative ways to support educators and the teaching of American history and civics to students. This program aims to develop more active and engaged citizens, but does not dictate or recommend specific curriculum, as these decisions are – and will continue to be – made at the local level. 

This year’s competitions invited applicants to design projects that incorporate racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse perspectives into teaching and learning. Though applicants earned no additional competitive advantage for addressing these “invitational priorities,” all three of this year’s grantees chose to address this priority in their applications. You can learn more about their applications here.  

In planning for the American History and Civics programs this year, the Department has emphasized two points. First, as every parent knows, when students can make personal connections to their learning experiences, there are greater opportunities for them to stay engaged in their education and see pathways for their own futures. And second, we respect and trust the Nation’s educators and know that the work they’re doing to promote important conversations can benefit all students.  

The Department is pleased to support the following new FY 2021 American History and Civics Academies and National Activities grantees and this important work as we continue our efforts toward reaching the founding ideals of our nation: 

Kentucky Educational Development Corporation (American History and Civics Academies Program; FY 2021 Award Amount: $499,408) 

The grantee will conduct Presidential Academies for the teaching of American History and Civics that offer innovative instructional workshops for 250 (50 per year for five years) veteran and new teachers to strengthen their knowledge of American history and civics. They will also offer Congressional Academies for students of American history and civics to provide 500 (100 per year) high school students with opportunities to develop a broader and deeper understanding of these subjects in the history and principles of the Constitution of the United States, including the Bill of Rights. Project partners include: National Council of History Education, Kentucky Council for the Social Studies, Gettysburg Foundation, Gettysburg National Military Park, Abraham Lincoln Birthplace, the National Constitution Center, The Rendell Center for Civics and Civic Engagement, the Library of Congress, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Georgetown College, Eastern Kentucky University, Morehead State University, Kentucky Department of Education. 

Both the Presidential and Congressional academies are infused with historical units that discuss the diversity of the United States and the struggles for racial equality, gender equity, and economic fairness. Teachers and students will use primary sources and narrative histories to examine issues including race, gender, and class. The academies will include activities designed to bring the complex historical subject to life through objects, artifacts, documents, and dialogue. Participants will experience on-site historical field institutes to provide substantive historical content increasing participants’ knowledge.  

Street Law, Inc. (American History and Civics National Activities Program; FY 2021 Award Amount: $307,543) 

Project staff will provide high-quality professional development to 452 teachers in all 24 Maryland school districts over its three-year life and will impact over 36,000 students. The goal of this project is to ensure an increased frequency in discussions and deliberations around current issues in Maryland classrooms and communities, with particular focus on serving diverse and under-resourced areas. Project partners include: Maryland State Department of Education, Baltimore County Public Schools and the Wisconsin Evaluation Collaborative. Street Law, Inc., is a non-profit organization that advances justice through classroom and community education programs that empower people with the legal and civic knowledge, skills, and confidence to bring about positive change for themselves and others. 

The project will provide professional development and curricular resource development support geared toward teachers teaching in low-income communities and underserved communities. The intent is that student academic, civic, and social knowledge, skills, and attitudes will improve as teachers provide more frequent opportunities to engage in high-quality discussions of current issues.  

Arizona State University (American History and Civics National Activities Program; FY 2021 Award Amount: $377,228)                                      

The GeoCivics Project will support culturally and linguistically diverse students in both Arizona and across the U.S. through empowering K-12 teachers with professional development, digital resources, and lesson plans on American history and civics. The grantee will leverage strong partnerships with local school districts that have large English learner populations. Project partners include: Arizona Geographic Alliance, local school districts, and K-12 Geography Alliances.  

The grantee will support the creation of history, government, civics, and geography learning environments that validate diverse and ensure inclusive learning spaces. The project team will recruit teachers who work with culturally and linguistically diverse learners in Title I schools and who have common experiences as the students they work with, whether it be cultural experiences or linguistic diversity knowledge that helps them support the diverse students they work with.