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Grant Brings Civics to Life for Nearly One Hundred Falmouth Middle School Students

YARMOUTHPORT – A grant from The League of Women Voters’ Civic Education Fund of The Cape Cod Foundation culminated in a student government town meeting earlier this month at The Lawrence Junior High School in Falmouth. Seventh grade social studies teacher, James Deasy, was awarded a $1,000 grant from the fund in 2015 to provide his students transportation to the Edward M. Kennedy Institute Senator-In-Training program at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston.

The goal of the trip was to add an experiential learning component to the students’ classroom study of democracy from its origins in ancient Greece to current practice in the U.S. Senate. This experiential learning is also known as ‘action civics’ whereby students learn how to effectively participate in the civic process, their community and greater society. The school’s current government operates on a Town Meeting structure and this month’s meeting gave the students a chance to put their new skills to work.

“Ninety seven students were able to visit the Edward M. Kennedy Institute to tie in what they’ve learned about Greek democracy in the classroom setting and bring it to life on a replica floor of the U.S. Senate,” said Mr. Deasy. “The students brought this experience and knowledge back to their student government town meeting. Their experience at the Institute taught them more about the process of democracy and how it relates to their daily lives, even though they’re still in middle school.”

The League of Women Voters of the Cape Cod Area in partnership with The Cape Cod Foundation has established a fund to support Action Civics for middle and high school students on Cape Cod. Action Civics combines traditional civic education, guided experiential civic education, and youth leadership development with the goal of creating an engaged citizenry capable of effective participation in the civic process, in their communities and in society.

“This was the first year of grants from The League of Women Voters’ Civic Education Fund. We awarded four grants that integrated action civics into school curriculum,” said Karen Mazza, Youth Service Director for the League of Women Voters of the Cape Cod Area. “These grants are intended to support schools’ efforts to expand opportunities for meaningful civic engagement for students who will hopefully become more civically engaged adults.”

“The League of Women Voters’ Civic Education Fund of The Cape Cod Foundation is supporting the outgrowth of the Foundation’s Youth Action Plan to support a healthy Cape Cod for young people and empowering our youth,” said Kristin O’Malley, Executive Director of The Cape Cod Foundation. “This mini-grant will help expand students’ understanding of civic engagement in hopes that they are empowered to actively participate in the future. This work is very timely considering this is a presidential election year and many people – including young people - are paying attention to politics and its impact on their communities.”

The League of Women Voters of the Cape Cod Area is currently raising money for the 2016 round of grants. Applications are being accepted through September 30. They will be awarded in October. Learn more about the Civic Education fund. Donations may also be made out to the “LWV Civic Education Fund” and mailed to The Cape Cod Foundation, 259 Willow Street, Yarmouthport, MA 02675.

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy. The local chapter started in Orleans in 1959 and later expanded to become the League of Women Voters of the Cape Cod Area.

The Cape Cod Foundation is a community foundation whose mission is to build permanent charitable resources for community betterment through informed grantmaking and civic leadership. The Foundation has distributed more than $55 million in grants and scholarships since its founding in 1989.