Civics, Government, and Service-Learning ResourcesResources listed on this page are relevant for the curriculum areas of civics, government, and legal studies. These external resources should be carefully reviewed before use in the classroom.
Civic Education Initiatives
Statewide Civic Education Initiative
This Web page provides information on the latest in Civic Education initiatives and programs.
State Seal of Civic Engagement — Assembly Bill (AB) 24
In October 2017, AB 24 was signed into law by Governor Brown. The bill authorized the development of criteria to award a State Seal of Civic Engagement (SSCE) to deserving graduating high school seniors. The California Department of Education is overseeing the process for developing the criteria for awarding the SSCE.
California Task Force on K-12 Civic Learning
Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye and former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson jointly established the California Task Force on K-12 Civic Learning. The task force worked from 2013 to 2014 to bring definition to the skills, knowledge, and dispositions that our students need to be informed and involved citizens and community members, and made recommendations for how we can achieve these outcomes for all students in California.
Revitalizing K–12 Civic Learning in California: A Blueprint for Action (PDF; Posted 05-Aug-2014)
The product of the California Task Force on K-12 Civic Learning, this Blueprint was presented to Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye and former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson on August 5, 2014 in Sacramento. This Blueprint addresses four key areas for schools and students in grades K-12: standards, assessment, accountability, and incentives; teaching; curriculum; community stakeholders; and funding. It outlines a plan of action for students, teachers, administrators, business and community leaders, courts, and local government and elected officials to take immediate action to improve civic learning in all California schools and communities.
Power of Democracy
Motivated to improve civic knowledge and participation in California, Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye joined with influential judicial and civic learning leaders and experts to elevate the status of civic learning and engagement and to revitalize democracy in California. This steering committee aims to give Californians, particularly our youth, the knowledge, tools and opportunity to fully appreciate, understand and protect the Power of Democracy.
Annenberg Classroom offers classroom-ready civics education resources from the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania and the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands at no cost. A rich set of teaching aids on the Constitution also helps educators and government employees meet the requirement of the Byrd Amendment to provide materials on the U.S. Constitution for Constitution Day (September 17).
Arsalyn Program of the Ludwick Family Foundation
Arsalyn Program of Ludwick Family Foundation encourages young Americans to become informed and active participants in the electoral process. Arsalyn views the civic and political engagement of young people as beneficial to country, community, and character. Arsalyn is firmly committed to a non-partisan, non-issue-based and inclusive approach to ensure that voting becomes a lifetime commitment on the part of our nation's young adults.
Bill of Rights Institute
The mission of the Bill of Rights Institute is to educate young people about the words and ideas of America's Founders, the liberties guaranteed in our founding documents, and how our founding principles continue to affect and shape a free society. It is the goal of the Institute to help the next generation understand the freedom and opportunity the Constitution offers.
California Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools
Educating for Democracy, the California Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools is an effort sponsored by the California Coalition for Civic Renewal, a group of concerned California individuals and organizations seeking to enlist support of education, business, law, veterans, labor, parents, and service groups around the state to promote civic education in California.
California Courts Civics Education
The Courts’ Civics Education section features educational resources and materials for teaching and learning about the judicial branch and its role in our democracy. They host California On My Honor lessons, developed by California K-12 teachers, who participated in a professional development institute focused on civic education and the courts. Co-sponsored by the Administrative Office of the Courts and California State University, San Marcos, participants created and field tested engaging civics lessons that meet California History-Social Science Content Standards and Common Core State Standards.
Center for Civic Education
The Center for Civic Education specializes in civic/citizenship education, law-related education, and international educational exchange programs for developing democracies. Programs focus on the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights; American political traditions and institutions at the federal, state, and local levels; constitutionalism; civic participation; and the rights and responsibilities of citizens.
CIRCLE (Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement)
This organization promotes research on the civic and political engagement of Americans between the ages of 15 and 25. Although CIRCLE conducts and funds research, not practice, the projects that they support have practical implications for those who work to increase young people’s engagement in politics and civic life. CIRCLE is also a clearinghouse for relevant information and scholarship.
Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF)
CRF is a non-profit, non-partisan, community-based organization dedicated to educating America's young people about the importance of civic participation in a democratic society. CRF develops, produces, and distributes programs and materials to teachers, students, and public-minded citizens all across the nation.
Courts in the Classroom
Courts in the Classroom is an animated Web site for students and teachers that provides a lively and motivating introduction to key legal principles such as due process and free expression, the role of judges and courts in our legal system, and a range of landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases.
Democracy Class is designed to engage high school students in civic education as a means to create early and long-term involvement in the political process.
First Amendment Center
First Amendment Center serves as a forum for the study and exploration of free-expression issues, including freedom of speech, of the press and of religion, and the rights to assemble and to petition the government.
iCivics is an education project designed to teach students civics and inspire them to be active participants in our democracy.
Kids Voting USA
A national leader in civic education, Kids Voting USA gets students involved and ready to be educated, engaged citizens. Students learn about democracy through a combination of classroom activities, family dialogue and an authentic voting experience.
KQED’s The Lowdown
The Lowdown is a collaboration between KQED’s Education and News departments. The project looks at key issues in the news and attempts to address the story’s background context and how has it been shaped by past events. The Lowdown is specifically geared toward California high school social studies, English/language arts, and Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers as a resource for teaching with the news and creatively integrating current events into core curriculum, while also directly engaging students in civic issues. Most content can be used to teach to the new Common Core State Standards, which puts significant emphasis on media literacy, narrative non-fiction, argument-based writing, and primary source analysis.
This is a collaboration in civic education between California State University, Sacramento, and the California State Legislature, administered by the Center for California Studies. The project's mission is to engage California high school students in matters of public policy and state government by creating opportunities for students and state leaders to meet and share ideas on the issues affecting California.
National Constitution Center
The National Constitution Center is the first and only institution in America established by Congress to “disseminate information about the United States Constitution on a non-partisan basis in order to increase the awareness and understanding of the Constitution among the American people.” The Constitution Center brings the United States Constitution to life by hosting interactive exhibitions and constitutional conversations and inspires active citizenship by celebrating the American constitutional tradition.
National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC)
NYLC has transformed classrooms, empowered teachers, and captivated students by leading the way in providing high quality, dynamic, service-learning content to school districts, classrooms, out-of-school youth programs and everything in between. NYLC can accelerate student achievement in your district by strengthening academic, civic, and character outcomes through service-learning. With online content, customized professional development, tools, resources, and more – NYLC is leading the way to transform community into classroom and inspiring all young people to serve, learn, and change the world. They host the Generator School Network (GSN) which offers a clearinghouse for service-learning resources.
PBS NewsHour Extra
PBS NewsHour Extra provides students and teachers with quality educational resources based on current issues and events. PBS NewsHour Extra’s mission is to help high school students understand world events and national issues. Extra helps teachers and educators spark young people’s interest in the world around them by a) providing news articles written for students with the background and context needed to understand complex topics; b) creating high-quality, free lesson plans and teaching tools that make it easy to bring current events and issues into the classroom; c) offering an outlet for young people to speak out on issues important to them by publishing essays, and original audio and video recordings. Often these student voices are directly related to the news and give adults insight into how events affect young people.
Street Law, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing practical, participatory education about law, democracy, and human rights. Through its philosophy and programs, people are empowered to transform democratic ideals into citizen action.
United States Courts Educational Outreach
This site, produced by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, is designed to offer basic, practical information about the federal court system. The objectives of the content, events, and multimedia resources, are to inform, involve, and inspire visitors. These original, courtroom-ready and classroom-ready resources are the centerpiece of the federal courts’ national and local educational outreach to high school students and their teachers. They simplify complex concepts and motivate participants to serve on juries willingly when called.
Walter & Leonore Annenberg Presidential Learning Center at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Library
The Presidential Learning Center provides education programs including class trips, scholarship programs, free lesson plans, teacher workshops, and online student and teacher program opportunities.