Department of Defense and National Defense Education Program Move to Prioritize Civic Education With $2 Million Grant to iCivics

November 01, 2021

The grant will fund the Civics, Service and Leadership program, designed to teach K–12 and JROTC students the foundational knowledge and skills needed to be engaged civic participants in a diverse United States.

Washington, DC — The Department of Defense (DoD) and the National Defense Education Program (NDEP) have awarded $2 million to iCivics, the country’s largest civic education provider, to build content and curriculum to teach civics to K–12 and Junior ROTC students. 

The grant will fund the development of iCivics’ Civics, Service and Leadership (CSL) program, a two-year pilot through which iCivics will build upon and refine its existing award-winning curricula to meet the specific needs of students in the military’s K–12 education system. It is the first grant awarded under the Enhanced Civic Education grant program developed by the DoD.

The initiative has the potential to ultimately reach the more than 60,000 students and 8,000 teachers—as well as the JROTC programs that operate in more than 1,700 public and private high schools, military outposts, and correctional centers throughout the United States and overseas.

The iCivics CSL program includes the development of new resources for elementary, middle and high school students, the creation of professional development for teachers designed specifically for NDEP, as well as the development of a technology portal for participating teachers and instructors. iCivics will also create a volunteer manual for military service members and families. All of the content will be aligned to state standards and benchmarks. iCivics will work with partners in this endeavor, including Blue Star Families, Makematic, National Council for the Social Studies, and a number of professional development providers. 

Section 234 of the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act requires the Department of Defense to implement a pilot program on enhanced civic education in collaboration with the DoDEA and/or JROTC. Enhanced Civics Education awardees will receive $4 million over two years to prepare the next generation to better understand the U.S. Government and their role as citizens in civic engagement.

This includes an expansion of the DoDEA and JROTC civic education programs, working to get military-affiliated youth more civically engaged and teaching critical civic knowledge and skills, such as voting, public service, collaboration, compromise, and media literacy. The DoD also awarded a civic education grant to the Education Development Center.

“iCivics couldn’t be more honored to be entrusted with this important work. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the military community and families for whom civic duty is already a central component of everyday life,” said iCivics Executive Director Louise Dubé. “We are thankful for the opportunity this partnership with the Department of Defense and National Defense Education Program presents for iCivics to play its part in ensuring the highest quality civic education possible for these students tied in such a unique and meaningful way to the civic life of our country through their DoDEA or JROTC education.”

In iCivics, the DoD has found a partner that is trusted by schools across the country. Founded in 2009 by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, iCivics has more than 300 digital educational resources used by more than 145,000 teachers and 9 million students annually. iCivics resources, which teach the fundamentals of American constitutional democracy by engaging students in a first-person perspective of civic life, are nonpartisan and free to use at www.icivics.org

“Our military families and young people interested in serving in the armed forces deserve the best possible civic education, which will ensure a full understanding of the constitutional democracy service members pledge to protect,” said Rep. Jake Auchincloss (MA-04). “In Congress, we recognized the importance of K-12 civic learning by funding a Department of Defense grant to create a civic education program for the Department of Defense Education Activity. iCivics is the national leader in providing students the tools needed to learn the fundamentals of engaged citizenship, and I am proud to champion iCivics for this program.”