Sen. Lesser Votes to Approve $1.5M in Civics Project Trust Fund to Ensure Students have Access to Civics Education

Fund will be spent toward teacher training and student projects in civic participation, as required by the 2018 Civics Education Law 

BOSTON — Senator Eric P. Lesser voted with the Massachusetts Senate on Wednesday to approve $1.5 million in funding for the newly created Civics Project Trust Fund to help schools provide civics education to middle and high school students across the Commonwealth.

The Civics Project Trust Fund, administered by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, will support the infrastructure, curricular resources, and teacher training needed to integrate high quality civic learning in Massachusetts schools.

“Last year, we made civics education a priority in Massachusetts, and now we have made good on that commitment by backing it up with funding for our schools and teachers. This Trust Fund will ensure that every student, no matter where they go to school, has equal access to civics education, distributing equal state resources to low-income communities,” said Sen. Lesser, who co-sponsored the funding amendment to the budget.

“This money is a down-payment on the future of civics education in Massachusetts,” said Sen. Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester), who sponsored the amendment. “The students that will take these civics courses and participate in these service projects are the future leaders of this state. The future leaders of this state deserve a curriculum that has received robust investment.”

The Civics Education Law was signed by Governor Baker in November 2018 and ensures that Massachusetts public schools teach civic participation and American history. It also requires that middle and high school students participate in no less than one student-led civics project.

“The Massachusetts state Senate has demonstrated leadership and made a critical impact for all students in the Commonwealth by supporting the Civics Project Trust Fund,” said Steve Rothstein, Executive Director, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.

“Our Commonwealth is one step closer to realizing the promise of the civic law that was passed last November and dedicating the critical resources needed to prepare all young people across the state to be active citizens in our democracy,” said Arielle Jennings, Executive Director of Generation Citizen MA and co-leader of the MA Civic Learning Coalition.

“This funding will allow the commonwealth’s students to be informed and prepared for civic engagement. We are deeply grateful to the MA Senate for taking the lead in making the Civics Project Fund a reality,” said Louise Dube, Executive Director, iCivics.

The Trust Fund will be used to implement the 2018 Civics Education Law, An Act to Enhance and Promote Civic Engagement, signed by Governor Charlie Baker in November 2018.

The Law focuses specifically on project-based learning, which is a hands-on and experiential approach to fostering civic engagement and encourages young adults to participate in their communities. The law additionally encourages the instruction of civic competencies – including news and media literacy, and critical thinking skills – and provides extracurricular civic participation opportunities.

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Eric Lesser