Civic Education in Schools and Community

Vision and Mission

The League of Women Voters vision is to “Empower Voters. Defend Democracy.”

The mission of the LWVPGH Civic Education in Schools and Community team is to foster more active and informed citizens by providing free nonpartisan, reliable resources and educational opportunities that advance the understanding of our representative government, elections, and voting.       civic.education@lwvpgh.org

Throughout our outreach, we demonstrate and reinforce our nonpartisan policy: The League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh is a nonprofit 501 (C)(3) organization and is nonpartisan, neither supporting nor opposing candidates or political parties.

 

A group of people in a classroom

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

History

The Civic Education team has been together and active in a free school and community outreach program for five years. Collaboration with and feedback from high school administration, teachers, and students have resulted in a program that is continuously renewed.

 

Activities

Our outreach has seven major components: Voter Resource Library, Independent Learning Modules, High School Outreach, Civic Education High School Outreach MODEL, College-University Outreach, Gen Z Outreach, Community Outreach.

 

              VOTER RESOURCE LIBRARY

             Graphical user interface, website

Description automatically generated

Voter Resource Library includes 50+ free, downloadable digital resources including infographics, explainers, tutorials and other documents. Most current or new graphics may be located at the top of the page. Graphics of a triangle (Allegheny County), keystone (Pennsylvania), and US Flag (Civics) help users search for the information

               INDEPENDENT LEARNING MODULES   A picture containing text

Description automatically generated

Independent Learning Modules (tutorials) are short PowerPoint slides in a Notes format and viewed as a pdf for independent learning. Coming soon—we are working to make these “Talking Presentations”.

 

                                              HIGH SCHOOL OUTREACH

                        A group of people sitting at a table

Description automatically generated with low confidence

Our Civic Education High School Voter Outreach Program includes virtual and in-person classroom lessons and digital resources for teachers and students. We begin each year by reaching out to the 40+ public school districts, including charters, in the Pittsburgh area. We focus on the high schools in our resilient, underserved communities. Over the past five years, we have presented in-person and virtual classroom presentations to at least 3000 students and received at least 2000 voter registrations--with the help of our dedicated presenters and committed volunteers.  In virtual classroom lessons conducted during the pandemic, we promoted Turbovote.org as a voter registration platform. The advantage of Turbovote is that multiple and ongoing reminder text messages about voter registration status and each current election are sent to the students who sign up. With the addition of a “dynamic” Turbovote QR code, we can for the first time in 2022, track how many clicks our posters or presentation slides receive. A click doesn’t mean that the individual follows through to register to vote, but it does show interest and does give us data. Over the years, we have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from students and teachers about our program. For more, see the Civic Ed High School Outreach Model.

 

            CIVIC EDUCATION HIGH SCHOOL OUTREACH MODEL 2021-2022

We designed this outreach model to assist any League of Women Voters group or r community members interested in starting a High School Voter Outreach Program. To download the resources we use, please click here.

LWVPGH CIVIC EDUCATION MODEL 2021-2022 PDF

 

The Model is divided into sections which fully explain: Forming a Civic Education team; Developing a Dynamic Program; Structuring High School Outreach; Getting the Word Out; and Funding. The APPENDIX includes all of the free, downloadable resources used in the program, including a preview of the PowerPoint presentation. (The presentation can be shared upon request.)   Please copy this link to share: www.lwvpgh.org/docs.ashx?id=831952.

 

                                                                                         COLLEGE-UNIVERSITY OUTREACH

                                    A picture containing text, newspaper, screenshot

Description automatically generated

Our volunteers share LWVPGH digital resources with College and University staff and students to amplify our reach through school social media, newsletters, websites, and email.

We send Teasers”, which are short social media messages with links to relevant infographics, explainers, and other documents. Sharing these resources directly with college and university staff and students helps them find reliable and trustworthy voting, election, and government information.

Each year we also are invited to many college-university classrooms or student unions to present our PowerPoints and to register students to vote.

                                                                                                     GEN Z WEBPAGE

                             A picture containing person, posing, crowd

Description automatically generated

Our GEN Z Webpage contains information tailored to the young voter. Besides our voter registration effort, we are also working to recruit student members for the League of Women Voters. Included on this webpage are sections about why voting is crucial for our democracy, how to make a voting plan, a political party quiz users can take, and our Happy Birthday and Claim Your Power posters with QR codes  for voter registration.

                                                                                            COMMUNITY OUTREACH

                             Text

Description automatically generated

Printed Materials: During the pandemic, we also learned about our resilient communities. Because of COVID and other factors, a segment as large as 40% of our Pittsburgh community did not have access to reliable technology in 2020-21.  That need continues into 2022. To respond to this need our team:


2019-20: Created and distributed grant-funded, printed voter materials.  Ready-Set-VOTE! door hanger bags of materials for over 2000 individuals resulted in new voter registrations--like the 187 student registrations at Pittsburgh Public Schools. These bags contained voter registration forms and instructions, but also our unique Civic Education infographics with topics like
election specific infographics, Fact or Fiction
 and Know Your Rights on Election Day .

For the 2021 Municipal Primary, printed voter materials for 1200 individuals were created and distributed.

For the Municipal General Election on November 2, 2021, 1000 Ready-Set-VOTE! bags were distributed to school and community partners.

 

For the 2022 Primary and General Elections, we are planning to deliver up to 8000 bags to our community partners and schools.

Community Presentations: Our outreach includes conducting presentations that have a civic education and voter registration focus. For example, we present to groups like: individuals in senior centers, groups of individuals with disabilities, civic groups like Rotary Clubs, and to union workers.

We believe in sharing our resources. On our Presentation Library web page, we make our community and school PowerPoints available to League and community members.

Audiences Served

Our target audiences include high school, college, and university students, although we have also presented to middle school students.

 

Resources have been shared with the following community audiences:  LWVPA (State League), and League members in local Leagues in Pennsylvania like Abington/Cheltenham/Jenkintown, Westmorland County, Erie, Lycoming County, Lewisburg, and others. Our resources are shared on an ongoing basis with community partners like Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP), Casa San Jose, Voter Empowerment Education & Enrichment Movement Pittsburgh (VEEEM), Jewish Community Center Pittsburgh (JCC), Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA), Carnegie Library system, including Mt. Lebanon Library, and many senior housing sites in the Pittsburgh area. Our reach extends to Leagues across the county in Maine, Maryland, Tennessee, Mississippi, and North Carolina.

 

Succesful Impact

Over the years we have made presentations  to at least 3000 students with at least 2500 voter registrations completed. In 2022 we may dramatically extend our results with over 3000 Ready-Set-Vote bags of voter registration printed materials that will go to Pittsburgh Public Schools alone.

 

After each presentation, we send a Google Feedback form to students. This PowerPoint describes the result of some of this data:

To view, download or share, please copy this link into your browser: www.lwvpgh.org/docs.ashx?id=964282

 

In 2022, we have also expanded our ability to collect data with the addition of dynamic, trackable QR codes embedded within our voter registration posters and presentation slides.

 

Our community partners depend on us to provide timely, reliable voting, election, and government information and frequently repost our information and resources on their websites.

 

Recommendations for adaptation and/or replication

In our Voter Resource Library, all of our 50+ infographics, explainers, Independent Learning Modules, and other documents are free to view, download, and share. We have a Presentation Library with previews of nine PowerPoints for use with high schools, colleges, and universities (full-length PowerPoints are shared when requested), in addition to five full-length, downloadable PowerPoints for community use.

Our Civic Education High School Outreach MODEL is a comprehensive document that allows any League (or any) group to replicate our program, from organizing a team to evaluating results.  In the Appendix are all of the free, downloadable documents that are part of the program.

Additional information can be found on our Civic Education in Schools and Community web page.

Contact information

Amy Kleissas at civic.education@lwvpgh.org    412-600.2581

Amy Kleissas, (she, her) 

League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh 

Director, Civic Education in Schools and Community

civic.education@lwvpgh.org   412.600.2581