Too often, young people are given the message that they are not capable, have limited knowledge about the world, and generally lack the tools to be productive and respected members of society. The danger occurs when these messages cause youth to question their own legitimacy, doubt their ability to make a difference and perpetuate a “culture of silence” among young people.

Students Speak Out Program

Project Citizen is a program that encourages teens to cultivate their public voice and explore their power as citizens in a democracy. Using an interactive project-based learning model, the program involves a group of teens working together with a facilitator to identify and research a public issue of their choice and propose a solution. Once they’ve developed their solution, they present it to a group of relevant policymakers for feedback and dialogue.

Through the process, the teens learn the value of personal civic engagement and also develop skills such as:

  • Moving from complaining about an issue to doing something about it
  • Gathering input to understand the ideas of like-minded people and potential opposition
  • Forming and testing hypotheses
  • Building common ground
  • Reporting results persuasively
  • Seeing a correlation between their actions and change.

The program helps participants learn how to monitor and influence public policy while developing support for democratic values and principles, tolerance, and feelings of political efficacy. Final presentations are videotaped, posted on our website and pushed out through various social media channels to encourage ongoing conversations about the issue.