On October 18, 2018 at the National Conference in Citizenship in Washington, D.C., six inspiring initiatives were honored as winners of the 2018 American Civic Collaboration awards.
The six winners and 23 finalists represent outstanding examples of collaborative work that elevate democracy and civic engagement, at every level of American life. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, these organizations are working hard to build a better future, and inspire others to do the same.
Soon, we'll have photos and interviews with the finalists to share. In the meantime, meet the 2018 winners in each category:
NATIONAL WINNER: iCivics
iCivics is a leader in the field of civic education, paving the way for students to learn about their nation through innovative curriculum that includes games, digital interactives, surveys and teacher resources. More than 200,000 teachers use iCivics games and resources to educate and engage 5 million K-12 students in all 50 states, and the organization is committed to doubling its reach by the year 2020. In the words of Civvys judge and 2017 National Winner Jody Thomas, “This organization hits all the right notes and they have the metrics to back it up.”
LOCAL WINNER (TIE): Interfaith Works Central New York El Hindi Center for Dialogue
The El-Hindi Center for Dialogue at Interfaith Works in Central New York was nominated for their outstanding work in a variety of programs, most notably an initiative bridging the gap in understanding between the Syracuse Police Department and the local community. Their immediate and lasting impact presents a model for other communities to follow. Civvys judge Michele Holt-Shannon, who was also a 2017 Local winner, pointed out “the use of multiracial, multilingual facilitators expands the impact of the dialogues.”
LOCAL WINNER (TIE): Colorado State University Center for Public Deliberation
As a pioneering model adopted by other universities, the Colorado State University Center for Public Deliberation operates under the belief that universities play a key role in not just providing quality information or training informed citizens, but in elevating the quality of communication in their communities. They provide forums for citizen engagement, connection and empowerment – improving outcomes for the students involved, the local community, the faculty bringing together theory and practice, and the university as a convener.
YOUTH WINNER – FIRST VOTE NC
First Vote NC believes that if students have an opportunity to practice voting, it will become a habit. They have built a track record of success with their virtual voting platform and civics lessons, which provide education, information, and room for engagement, while de-emphasizing the right versus wrong nature of today’s politics in favor of understanding how perspectives differ because of a myriad of factors. Through a mobilized network of teachers using the platform, the work of First Vote has reached over 40,000 students in 46 counties.
POLITICAL WINNER – MAINE RANK CHOICE VOTING EDUCATION EFFORT
This year, the Chamberlain Project Foundation and the Foundation for Independent Voter Education launched a joint effort in Maine to make sure voters were comfortable and aware of ranked choice voting, which helps broaden candidate pools beyond two parties, increase voter turnout and give more power to each vote. Their work created a transformational change in the way the state of Maine elects its leaders, what Civvys judge David Sawyer called “a game changer for the nation, breaking the polarization paradigm.” Two other judges called this work “an essential experiment” in the “laboratory of democracy.”
COMMITTEE CHOICE AWARD – MONTEVALLO JUNIOR CITY COUNCIL
In 2012, eight middle-schoolers in a small, rural Alabama community approached their mayor to start the first-ever Junior City Council in their town. Through the work of these young people, they established themselves as a political body, and their president sits on the dais at all City Council Meetings to represent the youth voice. The JCC hosts deliberative forums, developed a merchant discount card for teens and convened a mayoral debate, among other activities. Their nomination, submitted by an adult, noted, “In the decade I have worked in civic engagement, I have never seen a group of young people be given as much real power to make positive change in their community.”