Rationale of Project Citizen

The Project Citizen curriculum provides a practical, first-hand approach to learning about our complex system of government and how to monitor and influence it. Students will work together to conduct research in their community to discover problems that they think their governments are not handling at all or not handling well. Through this curricula students will 

Learn how to Monitor and Influence Policy


Learn the Policy Making Process


Develop Concrete Skills, Effective and Creative Communication Skills, and the Confidence Necessary to Exercise their Rights and Responsibilities


The Project Citizen Process

Students will follow a six-step process that will enable them to identify and study one significant problem, recommend a solution in the form of a public policy proposal, and present their research and proposal in the form of a portfolio and public hearing.
Step 1-Identifying Problems
In this step, students will identify a number of problems in their community or state that they think should be dealt with by the government or by both government and civil society acting cooperatively. Students will also start researching the problems they have identified and which governmental agencies at the local, state, or national levels might be responsible for dealing with those problems.
Step 2-Selecting a Problem(s)
Step 3- Researching the problem
Step 4-Develop a portfolio to present your research
Step 5- Presenting your Portfolio in a Simulated Public Hearing
Step 6- Reflection


A portfolio is a way for students to organize and display their research for their chosen issue(s). The portfolio could be created in a physical or electronic display that will then be presented by students in a simulated public hearing. The presentation is often the most memorable and empowering part of a student's Project Citizen experience. 

The portfolio and binder are displayed at showcases at the school, district, state, or national levels. Evaluators review each portion of the portfolio and documentation binder using the Guidelines for Portfolio Evaluation and the Portfolio Rating Sheet. For more detailed instructions on holding a portfolio showcase, please review the Guidelines for a Showcase Event. To see examples of physical and electronic portfolios click here.

Simulated Public Hearing

The purpose of the simulated hearing (the oral presentation component) is to teach students to present and defend reasoned opinions related to influencing public policy decision-making in their communities. For the simulated hearing, students or youth organization members are subdivided into four groups, one group for each section of the portfolio. Each group has the following primary responsibility:high school showcase image edited
  • Portfolio Group One: Explaining the problem
  • Portfolio Group Two: Examining alternative policies
  • Portfolio Group Three: Proposing a public policy
  • Portfolio Group Four: Developing an action plan


Each group makes a prepared four-minute presentation. The group then responds for six minutes to follow-up questions posed by members of the evaluator panel. Each of the four groups addresses the panel for a total of ten minutes. At the conclusion of each presentation, the panel members should provide constructive feedback.
To conduct a showcase in your school, city, or state contact your state coordinator.

Alternate Sites

Outside the traditional classroom, Project Citizen is used by after school programs, youth organizations, home school consortiums, and the Juvenile Justice system. Project Citizen is also used in post-secondary classrooms, such as in community college and university courses, and with adult groups, such as Families in Schools. Project Citizen students also work on projects together using distance learning tools. For more information on using Project Citizen outside of the traditional K-12 classroom, contact the Center at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
After School and Youth Organizations

After School and Youth Organizations

From 4H Clubs in Georgia to Girl Scout Troops in Washington state, youth organizations have embraced Project Citizen.

Incarcerated Youth & Adults

Incarcerated Youth & Adults

Offices of the Juvenile Justice System have used Project Citizen with the youth in these facilitates. Empowered, these students have presented their work to government officials. California and Wisconsin are examples of states that worked with both youth and adult incarcerated inmates with great success.

Post Secondary

Post Secondary

Project Citizen has been used in community colleges and universities i.e. San Jose State by Dr. Larry Gerston; and with other adult populations such as parents in Library programs, etc,. across the country.
Collaborative Projects

Collaborative Projects

Using current and emerging technologies, Project Citizen has connected universities and middle schools in collaborative Project Citizen work. Home School Consortiums have also used Project Citizen.



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