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Re-Imagining Civic Education for American Democracy A Plan for Equitable Civic Education X 2026


Responding to an Urgent Education Crisis The Remote Learning Toolkit

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In spring of 2020, nationwide school closures caused an urgent crisis in education. Fortunately, iCivics was uniquely positioned to answer this call. Our platform is already free and digital, non-partisan, comprehensive, and trusted. We are specialists in online learning. Our team quickly shifted gears: re-deploying resources to benefit the emerging needs of millions of teachers, parents, and students. The result: our newly launched remote learning toolkit with curated and adapted resources, activities, and supports to facilitate meaningful home learning.

iCivics in Action Y Teacher from Massachusetts Liked iCivics @icivics Prepping for upcoming weeks of e-learning…which will feature the great @icivics game “Win the White House”! Y Mother from Tennessee Liked iCivics @icivics Used the @icivics infographic #StateofEmergency to teach my 6th grader about our current local and state level

Re-Imagining Civic Education for American Democracy

iCivics.org


Table of Contents

Who We Are

4-5

Our Vision

Executive Summary

iCivics’ vision is a thriving American democracy supported by informed and civically engaged young people.

6 - 10 The Current State of Civic Education

11 - 17

Our Mission iCivics reimagines civic education for American Democracy. We champion equitable, non-partisan civic education so that the practice of democracy is learned by each new generation. We work to inspire life-long civic engagement by providing high-quality and engaging civics resources to teachers and students across our nation.

The State of iCivics

Our Values

18 - 29

In doing our work to champion civic education, we are guided by the following values:

Our Next-Phase Strategic Plan (FY21-FY25)

30 - 36 How We Will Achieve This and When?

37

Accessibility for all students Non-partisanship Educator focus Collaboration Equity

Conclusion

38 Citations

A visualization of feedback from thousands of teachers, parents, and students.

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Executive Summary

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iCivics is driven by a vision: that great civic education is the foundation of a thriving American democracy. When Justice Sandra Day O’Connor retired from the Supreme Court in 2006, she understood that something was very wrong. Many Americans lacked knowledge, curiosity, and the will to participate in our unique experiment of self-governance. As someone who devoted her life’s career to public service—in all three branches, no less—this fact troubled her deeply. So she did what only the best citizens do: she did something about it. iCivics was born in 2009 and it grows strong today. In little time, iCivics has become the premier non-profit civic education resource in the nation—providing high-quality, non-partisan, stimulating, and freely accessible resources to millions of teachers and students across America. As I write this, our nation, and global community, are gripped by a crisis that only underscores the importance of our vision. Never has the need for and the impact of robust civic engagement and a united citizenry been more apparent - and high-quality civic education for all is an essential, long-term investment in those ends. In 2019, iCivics celebrated its 10-year anniversary…with much to show for it. iCivics has created a comprehensive first-of-its-kind digital civic library of more than 200 curricular resources; digital literacy tools; professional learning materials; and educational video games (played more than 100 million times). Each year, 110,000 teachers actively engage with our platform, benefiting nearly 7 million students – that now equates to the majority of middle and high school students in America.

Re-Imagining Civic Education for American Democracy

iCivics.org

And behind these numbers lies something far more meaningful. Countless young people, who otherwise would not care, now feel the weight of their civic roles in society. Many are electrified by it. A great deal of progress has been made since Justice O’Connor spearheaded this nascent initiative. iCivics is meeting the demand for high-quality resources that were once lacking, and has become a trusted go-to brand and thriving network for educators who once felt isolated and unsupported. But more work remains, and the time is now to build upon our success and be bold in our ambitions. The results of poor civic education are clear. Among American Millennials, many of whom did not receive a quality civic education, understanding of and trust in our democratic institutions remain alarmingly low. Yet the time granted to civics in the classroom keeps shrinking. Today, only 9 states and DC mandate a full year of civic education.1 If civic education is to be a solution to what ails our constitutional democracy, we must ensure that it becomes a priority for our nation. Fortunately, there is unprecedented momentum for this cause. At a time when Americans seem to agree on very little, there is overwhelming public consensus about the importance of educating every student for American democracy.2 And we are seizing the moment. In 2018, iCivics created the CivXNow Coalition: a fast-growing movement calling for a civic education revival in America. Our goal is to change the systems to make high-quality and equitable civic education a centerpiece of modern education nationwide. This movement has now galvanized 120+ influential members.


iCivics will lead the collaborative initiative to make civic education a priority for our nation. iCivics is uniquely placed to deliver a powerful solution proportional to the scope of the problem. We have the scale, reputation, visibility, knowledge ,and expertise to lead a movement to garner attention and commitment to the mission of helping our constitutional democracy to thrive, and work collaboratively to deliver impact and results. Our ambitious, next-phase strategic plan builds from the assets we have developed to secure a healthy American democracy. By the time we celebrate our nation’s Semiquincentennial anniversary in 2026, we will have achieved the mind-shift change needed, and we will have put in place new and more rigorous policies to ensure quality civic education in 20 states. We will provide even more relevant and engaging resources for high-quality civic education. And we will have demonstrated what systems-wide quality civic education looks like in order to deliver results. This plan lays out a framework for success over the next 5 years. It includes three interdependent axes of work that fuel each other. Each axis is supported by clear activities to ensure results are ambitious, and also measurable and achievable:

Invest as the Premier Provider

Catalyze a Movement

Equity

Evolve for Impact

Invest as the Premier Provider Be the civic education provider of choice at scale and meet a growing demand for expertise in remote learning Catalyze a Movement Shift a national mindset to prioritize civic education Evolve for Impact Expand the model to advance civic engagement through place-based programming

What is the ultimate vision of great K-12 civic education for all? It is a school system committed to cultivating student knowledge, skills, dispositions, and engagement throughout the entire school experience, integrating relevant and engaging materials and experiences designed to promote a commitment to solving civic problems together across differences. It is schools working closely with parents and communities. It is equipping educators with the timely and high-impact resources that empower their teaching. It is a curriculum that speaks to all students and captures their imagination—regardless of their color of skin, zip code, or native tongue—to build civic agency. It is a government that believes civic education must be taught to all, as a matter of public principle and welfare. Each day, we set out to fulfill this promise. This document is iCivics’ blueprint to achieve our mission and vision. But we cannot do this alone. We need your commitment and support. We need you to join with us to build the foundation of a thriving American democracy. Our deepest appreciation for being part of this journey. Together, we can re-imagine civic education for all.

Louise Dubé Executive Director, iCivics

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The Current State of Civic Education

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Re-Imagining Civic Education for American Democracy

iCivics.org


Challenges Ahead In July 2026, the United States will mark its 250th anniversary with a grand commemoration; and yet, the democratic institutions our nation is built upon are under pressure. As our founder Justice O’Connor has often said, "the practice of democracy is not passed down in the gene pool, it must be taught to and learned by each generation." Young people are a powerful solution for strengthening our democratic republic, but, as a nation, we are still not adequately preparing them for engagement in today’s democracy. A strong commitment to civic education is lacking in America today.

Civic education is not prioritized in America.

There is an exponential difference in federal spending between civic education and subjects like Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics [STEM] and English Language Acquisition [ELA].3 By international comparison, Germany spends 45 times more per student on civic education than the U.S.4

Only 9 States mandate a full year of civic education.

Today, only nine states and the District of Columbia require one full year of U.S. government or civics.5 Unequal access to quality civic learning opportunities disproportionately affects low-income students and students of color.6 Low income students, those who are not going to college, and students of color receive less and lower quality civic learning opportunities than their more affluent and white contemporaries.

STEM vs. Civics Funding

There is a lack of civic education support for teachers. Teachers need access to more tools, training, and support for programming, assessment, and evaluation of civic education.7

Recovering from an Unprecedented Crisis

STEM

The COVID-19 crisis of 2020 upended nearly every facet of American life, including the education of more than 54 million K-12 students nationwide. iCivics’ vision and bold ambitions have not diminished. We will adapt our resources as the nation’s leading provider of civic education to meet the needs in the current situation, including remote learning. We will continue to highlight the need for civic strength and the role of education during this civic crisis.

$54 Amount per student per year

Civic Education

$.03

Amount per student per year

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Progress in the Field Our very polarized constitutional democracy must rebuild civic strength to thrive. Young people are distrustful of the institutions that appear to have lost the values which imbued the most laudable of American ideals – as expressed in the Declaration of Independence. The only path forward is education – we must build civic knowledge, skills and with it agency – to knit civic strength and reduce polarization.

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For many decades, both the quantity and quality of civic education has been cut. It is no surprise that many Americans—youth especially—distrust our systems of government and feel disconnected from civic life. But despite the polarization and misinformation that pervades this American ecosphere, we have an opportunity to make our democracy stronger. Civic education is, irrefutably, one of the chief solutions to combat our present ails. We must ensure that future generations gain a deep understanding of our governance systems; know how to engage as informed citizens; and understand why their civic participation matters. Quite simply, this is essential to the health of our democracy. This moment is an inflection point for our country; and we must succeed at rebuilding trust in young people that they can and should care about the health of our nation and their role in it. Fortunately, there is broad popular support among the American public for prioritizing civic education in schools. CivXNow is a collaborative effort to make this goal a reality. The driving goal behind CivXNow is to raise national visibility for, interest in, and support for, K-12 civic education (in and out of school). This is critical to our future. Unless K-12 civic education gets the investment in time and resources it warrants, our country will not benefit from sustained and productive input from young people to address civic challenges. Today, the field is in a stronger position than in the past. Over 120+ prestigious organizations have signed on as members, including: civics practitioners, educators, presidential libraries, universities and research centers, policy-makers, legal institutions, and funders. All are committed to expanding quality civic education nationwide, ensuring every school fulfills its vital civic mission.

“Right now, we have an incredible opportunity as a country to re-engage in teaching civics, and to reinforce what students have been learning in their classrooms. We’re seeing what civics truly is. It’s not just about voting, or even community action; it’s the entirety of the interplay between citizens and their institutions, and between citizens themselves, as all of us seek to build civic strength.”

Op-Ed by Louise Dubé, Executive Director, iCivics Re-Imagining Civic Education for American Democracy

iCivics.org


ics 2019

Since we first hosted the “Democracy at a Crossroads” Summit in 2017, the CivXNow Coalition has expanded its network of expert stakeholders, influential partners, and funders—all in short time and beyond expectations. There is undeniable enthusiasm for our cause. We have made momentous strides. The Coalition has published among the most comprehensive and up-to-date reports in the field. They outline the state of civic education in America; empirical and detailed “system maps” to guide our work; a menu of policies for states to exploit the “six proven practices” of civic education; and the myriad goals and approaches to measuring civic impact. These reports build credibility for our movement and help lay the groundwork to achieve long-term systems change in the civics field.

FUEL OUR DEMOCRACY

Through K-12 Civic Education

Chiefly, we have successfully advocated after and passed leading legislation and policies to expand, prioritize, and innovate civic education in the state of Massachusetts. More states will follow in this track as we deepen our networks in key states and leverage our collective power for profound civic mandates in schools. It must be noted: equity drives this initiative. We strive to coalesce behind common definitions, strategies, and values. Our efforts must ensure that all young people—from diverse backgrounds and experiences—have an equal shot at becoming informed and engaged members of our civil society We are the convener in the space, continuing the legacy of Justice O'Connor to use national influence and a local touch to change the dynamics of support for the field.

“Texas has a chance to step up and take the lead in civic education, but first we must play catch up to what other states are already doing. There is so much happening in the state, country, and world and the kids really want to understand, but for that to happen they need more access to good materials so that they can understand the basics.” Ashley Penney, iCivics EDNet Member, Middle School U.S. and Texas History Teacher, Wichita Falls Independent School District, TX

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CivXNow Milestones March CivXNow Coalition launched

January Massachusetts Case Study

November MA Gov. Charlie Baker [R] signs civics education bill

February Illinois Case Study

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2018

2019

2020

January Civic Learning Impact and Measurement Convening & Civic Education System Map released May State Policy Menu released

September Inaugural class of Equity in Civics Youth Fellows November Improving School Achievement Through Civic Life: A CivXNow Documentary

“…We have come to take democracy for granted and civic education has fallen by the wayside... Each generation has an obligation to pass on to the next, not only a fully functioning government responsive to the needs of the people, but the tools to understand and improve it.” Chief Justice John G. Roberts (January, 2020)

Re-Imagining Civic Education for American Democracy

iCivics.org


The State of iCivics

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iCivics Today The iCivics Method In 10 years, iCivics scaled to become the leading national provider of civics resources. We have grown an enthusiastic and empowered community of educators. Each year sees our rate of teacher-users increase by at least 20%; in fact, one in two of our teacher-users alone comes to us via a recommendation from a peer. This is the mark of our innovation. Why have teachers responded so emphatically to iCivics? Simply stated: iCivics’ suite of resources meets the needs of teachers to impart civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions within the constraints of the classroom time allotted while engaging students. That is our "secret sauce" and why we are the leading brand in the field.

12 iCivics teachers are in all 50 states, and represent the diversity of the American public at-large.

Our Resources Are: Equitable a Free.

a Digitally available — on browser and as apps.

a Adapting for English Language Learners.

Engaging a Our many games allow young people to experience civics. They simulate a range of key civic roles: the President, a judge, a news editor, a community organizer, an informed voter, etc. Students learn best by doing.

80% Public Schools

a Games are fun: they capture children’s imagination for civics—a fact that all educators prize. Teaching becomes that much simpler.

51% Title 1, Higher than National average Across the Political Spectrum

Across K-12

45%

42%

12%

Middle School

High School

Elementary School

Non-Partisan a All of our game-based curricula tackle civic themes and topics—even the most polemic—in a fact-based and balanced manner for teachers. Teacher-driven a Designed by teachers, for teachers: easy to use, easy to adapt, and sensitive to the real constraints of the classroom.

a All materials align to Common Core and state standards.

Efficient and Effective

a Teachers can use the iCivics resources without a large investment of time.

a Materials are designed for the classroom time structure.

a 3rd party research confirms the efficacy of iCivics materials.

Re-Imagining Civic Education for American Democracy

iCivics.org


The iCivics Method (continued) Comprehensive a Covers a full year of civics in both middle and high school, from the Constitution and Immigration & Citizenship to News Media Literacy. a Our entire curricular library deepens the game-based learning experience and imparts core civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions.

“When you put students in the driver’s seat, you allow them to see it from a certain point of view. They see things differently.”

Shelina Warren, iCivics EDNet Member, Social Studies Teacher, Dunbar High School in Washington, DC

a State-based curriculum for relevant states.

a Real-life civic action projects: students are guided in ways to apply their civic knowledge and skills to community issues they care about.

a Professional learning: enriching and multi-format opportunities.

iCivics is known for its outstanding and unique games. Games transform the experience of civic learning. They turn this complex subject into something digestible. For instance, our game Win the White House can:

1 2 3

Teach core civic knowledge from a systems perspective How does the electoral college work in a presidential election?

Put students in the decision-maker’s shoes Become the candidate, fundraise for your campaign, and promote your agenda for an electoral win!

Capture young people’s curiosity as they dive deeper into the topic How are purple states important? What is the value of polling? Can a Democrat support a campaign issue from the Republican party, and vice-versa?

Teachers may come to iCivics for the games, but they now stay for so much more. Our resources have expanded and deepened, now including more than 200 lesson plans, plus digital tools, instructional videos and blogs. 95% of iCivics teacher-users said that iCivics is a trusted and non-partisan resource which fosters civil conversations about current events in their classrooms.

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A History of iCivics Landmarks

Recognized by American Library Association and Common Sense Media

First game produced

14

Sandra Day O’Connor Civic Education Act passed in Florida iCivics used in all 50 states

2009

2010

2012

2011

Educator Network founded: 18 members iCivics Founded

+10M game plays

10th game released Featured in the New York Times

Re-Imagining Civic Education for American Democracy

2013

iCivics.org

10M

2014


Justice Sonia Sotomayor joins Governing Board

CivXNow Coalition founded

High school curriculum expansion begins

Educator Network grows: 208 members

2016

2015

Awarded MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions Launch of DBQuest

2017

2018

2019

5M students served

6.2M students served

Hosts “Democracy at a Crossroads” Summit

Surpassed 100M gameplays

First ELL-adapted game

CivXNow Coalition grows to +100 members

Top 10 Most Innovative Companies

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From our Educators

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“I tell my students on the first day of school that when you think of the most important classes you are going to have, civics is absolutely one of them. I use iCivics regularly. The lesson plans and games are very easy for students to understand. I think the education they can get about our government and about how influential they can be is priceless. They’re learning that they can actually cause the change that they want.” Kajal Chowdhury, iCivics EDNet Member, Social Justice and Advocacy Teacher, Oakland High School, Oakland, CA

“What I love about iCivics is the kids' engagement and how they pick up on how government works more quickly than a conventional classroom activity. Many of my students that struggled a bit academically and were more hesitant during other class activities really took to iCivics. Suddenly these kids were among the most vocal. They clearly were engaged and found their entry point for civics.” Jason Peledge, iCivics EDNet Member, Social Studies Teacher, Hanscom Middle School, Hanscom Air Force Base, Lincoln, MA

Re-Imagining Civic Education for American Democracy

iCivics.org


Our Edge iCivics is best positioned to build national momentum around civic education because we are recognized as a leader in the civic education community and have the right brand, tools, and network.

Premier Brand a Backed by an enthusiastic and still-growing teacher-community

Diverse and Powerful Network of Partners a A recognized leader of a wide coalition of influential organizations

Inclusive Values a Equity-centered: free and digitally available a Teacher-driven and accessible for all students a Non-partisan and collaborative

Engaging and Differentiated Games a Allowing for differentiated learning a Edu-games that engage students on the most pertinent civic themes a Supported by a full civics curriculum for middle and high school

Strong Organizational Capabilities a A robust and expert staff a Pro bono collaborators

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Our Next-Phase Strategic Plan (FY21-FY25)

18 18

Re-Imagining Civic Education for American Democracy

iCivics.org


Educating for American Democracy: Equitable Civic Education, a Solution

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Catalyze a Movement

Invest as the Premier Provider

Shift the national mindset to prioritize civic education

Be the civic education provider of choice at scale

Build: Lead a national coalition and deepen partnerships to help drive a movement for a reimagined civic education

Optimize: Enhance our world-class teacher experience to maintain top brand recognition

Advocate: Support federal and state-based efforts to enhance civic education by providing resources and tools

Equity

Engage: Leverage partners to engage in a multi-modal public messaging campaign to catalyze awareness of the impact and value of civic engagement and education

Evolve: Evolve our offerings to provide the most engaging, relevant, and effective civic education tools/instructional materials Measure: Provide formative assessment resources to improve teacher instruction

Evolve for Impact Build capacity and evidence to educate for meaningful civic education Train: Work with teachers and administrators to improve instructional practices to deepen impact for students Pilot: Build evidence base for impact through field-based pilots Establish: Establish state-based operations that work to sustain and support civically-minded school and district cultures


Strategic Shifts Where Are We Going? In our last strategic plan, iCivics had been focused on growing its reach to 10 million students per year. And, we are now very close to our goal. This strategic plan lays out an even more ambitious agenda, addressing the questions: Is that enough? Will it solve what ails us? What needs to change to ensure that ALL young people are prepared and engaged in the process of American democracy?

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Our answer is –more work remains. While our work is effective and important, continuing on the current trajectory will not be sufficient. iCivics is uniquely placed to deliver a powerful solution proportional to the scope of the problem. We have the scale, reputation, visibility, knowledge, and expertise to lead a movement to garner attention and commitment to the mission of helping our constitutional democracy to thrive, AND work collaboratively with others to deliver impact and results. By 2026, we will have achieved the mind-shift change needed; we will have put in place new and more rigorous policies to ensure quality civic education in 20 states; we will provide even more relevant and engaging resources for high-quality civic education; and we will have demonstrated what systems-wide quality civic education looks like to deliver results. By 2026, ALL students will be trained and provided the opportunity to be productively engaged in our American democracy.

Current Focus

Additional Reinforcing Elements

#1 provider of civic education products

u

#1 leader in building a civic education coalition and shifting the national mindset to prioritize civic education

Products focused on civic knowledge

u

Data-driven approach focused on improving student progress for civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions

Broad reach

u

Deep, systemic change to create civically-minded schools and districts

Re-Imagining Civic Education for American Democracy

iCivics.org


Strategic Plan What is Our Strategy? The strategic pillars enable iCivics to take on the challenge with a 3-pronged approach, delivering clear impact.

Strategic Pillars Invest as the Premier Provider

Catalyze a Movement

Evolve for Impact

Desired Outcomes

Quantifiable Outcomes

Be the civic education provider of choice at scale.

By the end of FY2026, iCivics will reach 160,000 teacher-users and 10M students.

Shift the national mindset to prioritize civic education.

Build capacity and evidence to educate for meaningful civic engagement.

By the end of FY2026, national spending on K-12 civic education will more than double.

By the end of FY2026, 100,000 students will be engaged through comprehensive civic readiness school models supported by iCivics.

Objectives

Descriptions

1. Optimize

Enhance our world-class teacher experience to maintain top brand recognition

2. Evolve

Evolve our offerings to provide the most engaging, relevant, and effective civic education tools/instructional materials

3. Measure

Provide formative assessment resources to improve teacher instruction

4. Build

Lead a national coalition and deepen partnerships to help drive a movement for a reimagined civic education

5. Advocate

Support federal and state-based efforts to enhance civic education by providing resources and tools

6. Engage

Leverage partners to engage in a multi-modal public messaging campaign to catalyze awareness of the impact and value of civic engagement and education

7. Train

Work with teachers and administrators to improve instructional practices to deepen impact for students

8. Pilot

Build evidence base for impact through field-based pilots

9. Establish

Establish state-based operations that work to sustain and support civically-minded school and district cultures

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Our Theory of Change How Will We Make an Impact? In order to sustain a healthy democracy, our country must increase its national commitment to civic learning. Young people are paramount to this nation. We must prepare them—profusely, tirelessly—to sustain and enrich American democracy. We are talking as much about a shift in our educational structures as a shift in mindset. This shift will drive the resources, policies and innovation required for broad-impact change. In parallel, civic learning itself must be deliberately and thoughtfully re-imagined for our diversity of learners. Equity is a centerpiece of our strategy. Our solutions must be ever more relevant to the plurality of teachers and students we serve.

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Desired Future State

To create a country in which...

The civic strength of our country is healthy and supported by young people who are prepared to play an engaged role in strengthening and maintaining democracy

Necessary Areas of Focus

In order to achieve…

There is a national mindset shift toward civic engagement, which drives policy change and increases funding to support civic education

Supporting Elements

iCivics ensures…

School systems renew their commitment to civic education

Civic education is reimagined for today’s democracy

Quality curriculum is available to all

Re-Imagining Civic Education for American Democracy

Families and communities support civic education

Effective professional development for educators is available

Teachers have the resources and support they need

iCivics.org

Civic engagement opportunities are available for students

Young people are engaged by resources and experiences


The Strategic Pillars 23

Catalyze a Movement

Equity

Evolve for Impact

Invest as the Premier Provider


Invest as the Premier Provider Propelled by our previous strategic plan aimed at expanding our reach, iCivics has become a leading and trusted provider of civic education resources. The scale and diversity of our reach are unmatched, as is the breadth of our comprehensive library of award-winning resources. Between now and 2026, iCivics’ leadership in driving the movement for civic education, will, in turn, create greater demand for civic education resources and services.

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While we will maintain our founding commitment to reach every student in America, an estimated 10 million students each year, by 2026, our focus will transcend the scale of our reach and the volume of our resources. As part of this effort, we will seek to ensure equitable access to and connection with our resources, including the completion of our English Language Learner initiative and implementation of a diversity, equity, and inclusion curriculum plan. We will also work collaboratively and across disciplines to provide the most engaging, relevant, and effective civic learning offerings that specifically foster civic skills and dispositions, along with knowledge. Critical to these efforts will be engaging with our teacher-users for critical, ongoing feedback with which we can continually enhance the teacher experience—from technical infrastructure to embedded surveys to an annual, in-person educator conference. What’s more, we will empower teachers to improve their instruction by providing formative assessment resources to measure student performance. We will strive to strengthen our position as the civic education provider of choice, so that every teacher has an experience like Joe Harmon.

“Never before iCivics, during my 15 years as a civics teacher, had an 8th grade student walked into my classroom and proclaimed, “We’re learning about the legislative branch of government today? Alright! The iCivics I fell in love with several years ago remains at the top of my list of highly effective curriculum providers. I’m excited to see where the next ten years will lead."

Joe Harmon, iCivics EDNet Member, Social Studies Teacher, Redbank Valley High School, New Bethlehem, PA

Re-Imagining Civic Education for American Democracy

iCivics.org


Logic Model Invest as the Premier Provider Outcome

Objectives

Quantitative Goals

Metrics

1. Optimize

iCivics will…

# of teacher/student users

Enhance our world-class teacher experience to maintain top brand recognition.

Provide the #1 civic education teacher resource.

Net promoter score (or another customer service measurement) Teacher survey results Brand recognition measure (e.g., “civic education = iCivics”) % of products that can be used by other educator segments

Be the civic education provider of choice at scale.

Quantifiable Statement: By the end of FY2026, iCivics will reach 160,000 teacher-users and 10M students.

2. Evolve

iCivics will…

Evolve our offerings to provide the most engaging, relevant, and effective civic education tools/instructional materials.

Provide products that teach selected civic skills/ dispositions Review 100% of products with an equity lens

Activities a. Broaden/evolve our technology to provide the #1 experience for educators b. Build the backend infrastructure to allow more advanced data mining and analytics (e.g. SEO, new measures) to better respond to customer needs and adapt our offerings c. Involve students and teachers in improving overall customer feedback and engagement strategy d. Host the annual Educator Network Conference

% of civic skills/dispositions covered by iCivics or partner-curated products

a. Expand reach of products to new educator segments, such as history, ELA, elementary (e.g. Race to Ratify for history teachers)

Completion of curriculum updates as outlined in the 2020 DEI agenda

b. Develop existing/new products to address all selected civic skills/dispositions

Offer Spanish for 100% of games

% of games offered with Spanish translation and ELL resources

Increase products that teach digital democracy/media literacy.

% of resources addressing digital democracy/media literacy

c. Curate partner resources that meet the iCivics brand criteria (flexible, time bound, engaging, accessible, easy-to-use) and address civic skills/dispositions d. Complete and implement 2020 DEI curriculum plan; the plan will outline our process to update curriculum to ensure we’re providing topical content that addresses issues of marginalization race/class/equity topics e. Expand equitable access by adding Spanish translations and ELL resources

Metrics: # of student users; # of teacher users; Teacher net promoter score

f. Continue to expand offerings that address the challenges and opportunities for students engaging in a digital democracy 3. Measure

iCivics will…

% of products with pre-post assessments

Provide formative assessment resources to improve teacher instruction.

Achieve 50% of active teacherusers finding value in our assessment tools for measuring student progress and improving students’ civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions.

Teacher survey measures for value of assessment tools Teacher survey measures for increase in student progress

a. Provide teachers a way to measure student performance, such as through pre- and post- curriculum assessments b. Provide assessment resources for teachers that measure not just knowledge, but also skills and dispositions

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Catalyze a Movement In order to govern ourselves and sustain our communities, Americans need an adequate understanding of the law and our government; skills for discussing and working together despite our disagreements; and a widespread commitment to preserving and improving our society and the rights and interests of all our people. Since its formation, Americans have sought to educate young people with this array of knowledge, skills, and dispositions.

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“Fixing this country’s very real and serious problems will take a multitude of different American voices. Building civic strength is the job of entire communities, and schools play a large role in that process.” Louise Dubé, Executive Director, iCivics

Yet, we are currently failing to meet reasonable benchmarks of success. Only about one in four students reach “proficient” scores in civic education and this has shown little change since the 1970s.8 When there is a lack of understanding about our system of government, disengagement and distrust often take root. And when distrust for major institutions combines with distrust for other citizens, the result is declining support for democracy itself. Young adults are no exception. In a recent survey, 35% of Millennials said they were losing faith in American democracy.9 But how do we make civic education a priority? How do we achieve systemic change? To answer these questions, iCivics led the development of the CivXNow Coalition in 2018, a national, trans-partisan coalition comprised today of more than 115 organizations to expand and improve civic education in America. Its first initiative was to undertake a comprehensive “systems mapping” process, which identified three key catalysts for strengthening civic education.10 They are: Mindset & Values, Relevancy & Engagement, and Federal and State Policy and Accountability Measures. If these strategies are implemented, we expect a measurable improvement in civic knowledge and engagement. CivXNow is poised to build on this empirical base, as well as this unique period of momentum for civic education, to continue to catalyze a movement to advocate for comprehensive policies for higher-quality civic education and to engage in a narrative campaign to compel action. Relevancy and Engagement

1 Mindset and Values

Re-Imagining Civic Education for American Democracy

iCivics.org

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3 Policy and Measures


Logic Model Catalyze a Movement Outcome

Shift the national mindset to prioritize civic education.

Quantifiable Statement: By the end of FY2026, national spending on K-12 civic education will more than double. Metrics: Annual civic education spending; $ invested in civic education by school districts, states, private funding, target $150M; $ from federal expenditures, target $50M

Objectives

Quantitative Goals

Metrics

Activities

4. Build

iCivics will…

# of CivXNow members

a. Define the scope, mission, and governance of the coalition

Lead a national coalition and deepen partnerships to help drive a movement for reimagined civic education.

Grow the coalition to 250+ organizations with representation from large national groups, ensuring equal partisan, racial, and geographically diverse representation.

% diversity representation by political affiliation, race, and geography

b. Continue to recruit and energize a diverse, trans-partisan coalition

5. Advocate

iCivics will…

Support federal and state-based efforts to enhance civic education by providing resources and tools.

Achieve comprehensive civic education mandates in 2-5 target states.

# of states using iCivics advocacy/policy resources (target 20)

c. Build support of thought leaders and strengthen relationships with coalition members to ensure long-term stability of coalition d. Coordinate the development of policy infrastructure (i.e., policy roadmap) e. Organize and manage the annual Youth Fellowship

# of states where iCivics is leading engagement (target 2-5)

Help 20 states achieve significant policy/advocacy shifts to prioritize civic education.

a. Directly contribute to advancing civic education mandates in 2-5 target states b. Create enabling tools that support advocates and policy makers, including a policy agenda and legislative language at the state and federal levels c. Engage nontraditional stakeholders (e.g., grassroots leaders) at the state level to advance state advocacy goals d. Target expanding state-level civic education policy in 20 states e. Organize state-level funding for advocacy f. Create state-based advocacy infrastructure in 2-5 states

6. Engage

iCivics will…

Leverage partners to engage in a multi-modal public messaging campaign to catalyze awareness of the impact and value of civic engagement and education.

Increase the national perception that civic education should be required to 80%.

A majority of the public who believes that building civic engagement is a critical mission of schools (vs. other priorities) and are willing to prioritize it Amount of press attention Ability to attract high-visibility surrogates to advocate for civic education

a. Conduct messaging research about the best framing around how to engage Americans in prioritizing civic engagement and education b. Design and run a public messaging pilot

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Evolve for Impact iCivics is exploring how to surround its resources with tools and services to support deeper learning in and outside the classroom, as well as to connect the learning with the local community. The new services will include everything from measures of civic learning and outcomes, to teacher practice, equity in the classroom, and youth voice.

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Cultivating a generation of young civic actors requires that schools, parents, and local leaders take ownership of the process. For this reason,we are investing strategically in place-based initiatives. iCivics strives to develop a new civic readiness model: locally-driven, locally-adapted, and extending beyond the school. Such models will be rooted in an equity-first approach. Its explicit goal is to expand access to students who have not traditionally benefitted from high-quality civic education. Once tested locally in numerous diverse settings, the program has the potential to be replicated nationwide. We will also be exploring alternative ways to document and measure impact. The civic mission articulated in so many schools' mission statements must have real and concrete programs associated with it. This plan should have the commitment of administrators, educators, students, families and the broader community. Schools and districts should articulate a detailed civic learning plan and measure progress against it. We must also have independent measures of impact that reveal whether schools are graduating civic ready students, students who have been adequately prepared for civic engagement.

“In my home state of Louisiana, civic education is not required, and, where it is taught, it is often focused primarily on dates and definitions. It is no wonder that many of my peers who did not benefit from civic education feel disconnected from and disillusioned with their government. And so it was my great honor to be nominated for and accepted as an inaugural youth fellow for equity in civic education. Along with 11 other students from across the country with unique and diverse perspectives, we will work with iCivics and its partners to ensure every young person has the opportunity to receive a quality and engaging civic education and is informed and enthusiastic for civic life." Alexandra Henderson, 17 years old, Youth Fellow for Equity in Civics, Baton Rouge, LA Re-Imagining Civic Education for American Democracy

iCivics.org


Logic Model Evolve for Impact Outcome

Build capacity and evidence to educate for meaningful civic engagement.

Objectives

Quantitative Goals

Metrics

7. Train

iCivics will…

# of trained civic education teachers

Work with teachers and administrators to improve instructional practices to deepen impact for students.

Increase the quality of teacher instructional practice for civic education by 30% and improve student civic learning by 20%, for participating engagement sites.

% improvement of teacher instructional practices over time

Activities a. Provide training and support for programming, assessment, and evaluation of civic education programs b. Build a field evaluation plan

Avg. # of opportunities provided to students to learn about civics Year-over-year analysis of student civic engagement, via surveys

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a. Help schools build and test civic learning plans (e.g., curriculum, training, engagement, evaluation, out of school networks, etc.) and leverage proof points for replication

8. Pilot

iCivics will…

# of districts enrolled

Build evidence base for impact through field-based pilots.

Support 3-5 pilots at sites that are aspiring to implement a rigorous approach to developing civically-minded school and district cultures.

# of completed projects Successful piloting of specific models that demonstrate the impact of civically-minded schools and districts

b. Attract partners to this effort to build a comprehensive strategy and move the needle

9. Establish

iCivics will…

Amount of local money raised

a. Support state fundraising efforts

Establish state-based operations that work to sustain and support civically-minded school and district cultures.

Establish iCivics presence in 3-5 sites to support pilots and training and support for teachers and administrators.

Positive policy change

b. Manage/coordinate on-the-ground activity (e.g., introduce an ED and then incrementally build staff presence in the state)

Quantifiable Statement: By the end of FY2026, 100,000 students will be engaged through comprehensive civic readiness school models supported by iCivics. Metrics: Before and after comparison of before survey responses

Size and involvement of network of engagement partners

c. Establish state civic advisory boards


How We Will Achieve This and When?

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Re-Imagining Civic Education for American Democracy

iCivics.org


Outcomes What Will We Achieve? Completion of the defined activities requires significant funding, but will achieve notable progress to advance our mission.

Strategic Pillars

Investments

Objectives

Planned Investment Outcomes a The most engaged and largest teacher community in civic education

1. Optimize

Invest as the Premier Provider

a Modern technology infrastructure, improving analytics/assessments/user experience insights to inform product design a The annual Educator Network conference

$16.6M over 5 years will produce…

a New products (e.g., new games and lesson plans) and updated existing materials to address selected civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions and include instruction on digital democracy/media literacy 2. Evolve

a An upgraded full complement of existing games including Spanish translation for ELL a Products that are all updated with an equity lens a Technology infrastructure to curate/host strategically aligned partner resources

3. Measure

a Pre and post surveys for all products to assess civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions a A diverse trans-partisan coalition made up of 250+ organizations

4. Build

Catalyze a Movement

a An annual Youth Fellowship program

$7.6M over 5 years will produce…

a A policy roadmap (federal and state)

a An increase in funders giving to civic education ($100M to $250M allocated nationally to civic education) 5. Advocate

a 2 states with comprehensive civic education mandates a An additional 20 states with a demonstrated policy shift to prioritizing civic education

6. Engage

Evolve for Impact

7. Train

$5.5M

8. Pilot

over 5 years will produce…

a Public messaging pilot to inform messaging campaign roll out a An increase in teacher instructional practice for civic education by 30% for delivery sites a Improvement in student civic knowledge, skills, and disposition by 20% for participating delivery sites a 3 pilots resulting in sites with comprehensive plans to implement and evaluate rigorous civic education programs a iCivics state-level presence established in 3 states

9. Establish

a Local partners attracted and supporting civic education plan roll out for delivery sites a A field evaluation plan

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Funding How Will We Invest to Achieve These Outcomes? Increasing the breadth and depth of our activities will require an increase in investments over time. Our 5-year financial model shows an annual growth rate of between 8% and 10%, with growth across each strategic pillar, including our revenue generating operations to ensure financial sustainability. Our projections take into account the activities that are required to meet our strategic goals at revenue levels we are confident we can collectively achieve.

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$9.0 $8.0 $7.0 $6.0 $5.0

$5.6

$5.1

$6.2

$6.6

$7.3

$7.8

$4.0 $3.0 $2.0 $1.0 Invest as the Premier Provider

$0.0

Catalyze a Movement Evolve for Impact

FY2020 FY2021 FY2022 FY2023 FY2024 FY2025

Develop Financial Sustainability

Budget FY2020 - FY2025 Note: This budget totals $33.5M over 5 years, leaving an operating reserve of $0.7M, as well as an additional funding reserve of $0.7M to be allocated to roll out for the public messaging campaign, additional advocacy, and/or earned revenue initiatives.

Re-Imagining Civic Education for American Democracy

iCivics.org


(continued) How Will We Invest to Achieve These Outcomes?

The total revenue required to deliver our 5-year plan is $35M. Our ongoing revenue generating operations raise $3M annually, and we project we will fund $15M of the $35M required through these ongoing revenue operations. In addition, we have launched a $20M growth capital campaign to fund the remainder required for our strategic growth.

FY2021 Total Revenue Needs

Revenue from Annual Operations

Revenue Required from Growth Capital Campaign

Assumptions

iCivics will...

FY2022

FY2023

FY2024

FY2025

Total

$5.8 M

$6.5 M

$7 M

$7.6 M

$8.1 M

$35 M

$3 M

$3 M

$3 M

$3 M

$3 M

$15 M

$2.8 M

$3.5 M

$4 M

$4.6 M

$5.1 M

$20 M

Receive significant pro bono support

Continue to raise $3M in annual fundraising and philanthropic giving

Fulfill the $20M capital campaign

Build enough demand in the market over 5 years and figure out a viable model for earned revenue to generate $2M per year

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Realizing Justice O’Connor’s Vision iCivics Growth Capital Campaign When Justice O’Connor retired from the Court, she had a clear and ambitious vision—that every child in America receive a quality, truly engaging civic education in order to fulfill their potential as informed and active citizens. This, she knew, was as important to the character development and academic success of young people, as it was critical to the health of our democracy.

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Even then, she recognized and was presciently concerned about the lack of understanding about our system of government and the disengagement that inevitably follows. Today, the alarming results of decades of decline in civic education that she foresaw are undeniable. Over the last ten years, iCivics has grown and evolved rapidly. We are no longer a promising start-up. Today, we are a successful, high impact and scalable resource solution, as well as the undisputed sector leader driving systemic change, with the capacity and strategic ambition to fulfill and sustain Justice O’Connor’s ambitious vision. As Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announced her retirement from public life, she issued a challenge to her fellow Americans to take up her cause to make civic learning and engagement a reality for all. Among her many accomplishments, one of her most significant contributions to American life is her unwavering commitment to restoring and transforming civic education. In her honor, the iCivics Board and the O’Connor family have launched the iCivics growth capital campaign to raise $20 million over the next three years to fund key strategic investments outlined in this strategy to help fulfill Justice O’Connor’s legacy, as well as ensure a sustainable financial foundation with which to sustain our reach and income for generations to come.

“I consider iCivics to be my most important legacy. It is time for new leaders to make civic learning a reality for all. It is my great hope that our nation will commit to educating our youth about civics, and to helping young people understand their crucial role as informed citizens in our nation."

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

Re-Imagining Civic Education for American Democracy

iCivics.org


Double Your Investment Today! Leonard and Judy Lauder are offering a matching gift opportunity of up to $5 million to fund iCivics' growth capital campaign.

Your Support Can Help Us Reimagine Civic Education

Learn more or make your donation by visiting iCivics.org

Visionaries $2 million and above

A donation at this level can help iCivics propel momentum for the civics movement

Guardians $1 million and above

A donation at this level can help iCivics develop impact evidence to strength the civics field

Patriots $500,000 and above

A donation at this level can help iCivics upgrade one of its award-winning games

Leaders $250,000 and above

A donation at this level can help iCivics build an analytic platform to help measure student progress

Advocates $100,000 and above A donation at this level can help iCivics train up to 400 teachers

Founders $50,000 and above

A donation at this level can help iCivics build custom game supports for our nation’s 4 million English Language Learners

Supporters EVERY donation counts

A donation at any level will help us inform and engage every student in America

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Risks What Could Take Us Off Track? This plan will involve iCivics expanding and experimenting in multiple directions simultaneously. While risky, bold action now could guarantee greater success and stability for iCivics in the long term.

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Invest as the Premier Provider

Catalyze a Movement

Competition e.g., more capitalized organizations take over the market

Under capitalization e.g., less funding available, or directed to competitors Challenges to iCivics’ organizational structure e.g., 501(C4) requirements and resourcing needs

Organizational limitations e.g., rising demand outpaces resources available for product development

Evolve for Impact

Unknown returns e.g., impact could be insignificant for degree of investment

Shifts in the political environment e.g., loss in urgency around civic education

Evidence is not replicable e.g., proof points are inconsistent across pilots

Prominence of the executive director e.g., achieving results on the desired timeline would be a challenge if the director were to leave

Change in organizational operations e.g., requires significant addition of new staff/skills

Some risks, like the 2020 global pandemic and its aftermath, are entirely without precedent. However, iCivics designed this strategy with the flexibility to shift the timing of our priorities without sacrificing our ultimate vision.

Mitigation Strategies

Leverage the current political moment—sparking interest in civic education—to engage the public and expand support for our mission

Re-Imagining Civic Education for American Democracy

Use investment framework to determine priorities if decisions need to be made around how to allocate limited funding

iCivics.org

Intensify our targeted fundraising efforts from a diverse mix of funders

Continue to develop partner relationships, in particular to support product development, earned revenue options, and resource sharing

When testing new solutions/approaches, pilot to evaluate impact before determining whether to roll out broadly


Conclusion: Our Cause Matters For you who have come all this way, heed these words. Civic education matters. To raise moral, literate, and productive citizens is at the heart of why American public schools were created. It matters that young people know our branches of government, their roles, and why they exist in the first place. It matters that young people know how to discuss and deliberate, reflect and ponder, argue and engage with one another… with civility. It matters that young people feel that they, too, have a voice in our shared government. Finally, it matters – deeply – that civic educators feel supported, prepared, and empowered. After all: our mission would be impossible without them. Needless to say – this all should matter for its own sake. Our cause matters. Thank you for trusting iCivics.

"Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right...and a desire to know…." President John Adams (1765) 11

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Citations

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1

Center for American Progress (2019). Strengthening Democracy With a Modern Civics Education.

2

“Reversing a Crisis of Confidence.” The Democracy Project, July 2018. An initiative of Freedom House, the George W. Bush Institute, and the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.3

3

Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools

4

Greeson, K. (2020, April 24). Strong government support for civic learning is possible. Just look at Germany.

5

Center for American Progress (2019). Strengthening Democracy With a Modern Civics Education.

6

Kahne, J., & Middaugh, E. (2008). High Quality Civic Education: What Is It and Who Gets It? National Council for the Social Studies, 34–39.

7

Godsay, S. and Sullivan, F.: A National Survey of Civics and U.S. Government Teachers

8

The 2014 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) civics assessment

9

Foa, Roberto Stefan and Yascha Mounk. “The Danger of Deconsolidation: The Democratic Disconnect.” Journal of Democracy 3 (2016): 5-17.

10

CivXNow Civic Education System Map

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A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law by John Adams (1765)

Re-Imagining Civic Education for American Democracy

iCivics.org


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Win the White House helps bring the electoral process to life in a fun, nonpartisan, and meaningful way! Students run their own presidential campaign from building arguments to support timely issues that are relevant to them, to strategic fundraising and media campaigns, to polling and personal appearances. Win the White House/Camino a la Casa Blanca, was refreshed and relaunched in 2020, just in time for the election season, with adaptations for the needs of English Language Learners. It is iCivics’ most popular game of all time with more than 20 million game plays.

iCivics in Action

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1035 Cambridge Street Suite 21B Cambridge, MA 02141 www.icivics.org (617) 356-8311

iCivics, Inc. is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization

Re-Imagining Civic Education for American Democracy

iCivics.org

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iCivics FY21-25 Strategic Plan  

iCivics has launched an ambitious, next-phase strategic plan to make high quality civic education a centerpiece of modern education.

iCivics FY21-25 Strategic Plan  

iCivics has launched an ambitious, next-phase strategic plan to make high quality civic education a centerpiece of modern education.

Profile for icivics0