WW Launches Civic Spring Project

FOR RELEASE: DAY, May 15, 2020
CONTACT: Frances Hannan, Director of Multimedia Projects | 201-587-4755 | [email protected]


Program Will Award Grants to Local Organizations, Partnerships will Provide Effective Summer Civic Learning Experiences

PRINCETON, NJ (May 15, 2020) – The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation today launched the Civic Spring Project, which will catalyze a broad array of organizations to increase civic learning opportunities for young people. The Civic Spring Project will use the summer months to increase civic knowledge, skills, and engagement by creating incentives, support, and rewards for locally defined youth civic engagement initiatives aimed at meeting acute needs.

“As we adjust to new realities, civic action to address local needs has never been more important,” said Woodrow Wilson Foundation President Rajiv Vinnakota. “How we, as individuals, families, communities, organizations, experts and leaders, respond to the current situation is both a real-life civics test and opportunity to empower a new generation of civic leaders.”

The Civic Spring Project will award at least five grants (in the $75K–$100K range) to organizations that can meaningfully partner with, mentor, and involve young people. During summer 2020, partnerships that receive grants will address local community needs in responding to COVID-19 and/or building civic capacities for the 2020 election cycle. The program will seek to fund projects that are civic-minded, youth-oriented, nonpartisan, nimble, measurement-minded, and generative.

The initial programs will be designed by grantees and may include participation from groups such as community and nonprofit organizations, governmental agencies, businesses, out-of-school-time organizations, K-12 schools, higher learning institutions, and religious institutions. In addition to catalyzing local action in communities throughout the nation, the Foundation aims to demonstrate the lasting value and potential of civic learning and action.

“This moment could hold tremendous potential opportunities for young people, particularly those in high school and college, to increase their local knowledge, engagement and leadership while acquiring further civic skills,” said Mr. Vinnakota.

The Civic Spring Project was developed by nearly 40 subject-matter experts with the collective goal of creating a program that will catalyze summer civic knowledge and experience efforts, especially in light of COVID-19. Because schools and localities—the systems typically leading civic learning programs—continue experiencing stress and fatigue from combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, the Foundation and its partners want to tap into a group eager to help its community make productive change: youth.

In addition to input from civic learning experts, the Civic Spring Project was developed with insight and recommendations from young people who were members of the task force.  Youth will continue to have an engaged and meaningful role throughout this process, as young people will be part of the Selection Committee, as well as develop and co-lead the Community of Practice across all of the grantee programs.

“This type of partnership between students and adult allies is needed at this moment as we co-create new possibilities for civic action,” said Merrit Jones, President of Student Voice and member of the task force.

The Civic Spring Project will provide teens and young adults with the ability to connect with others across a wide range of socioeconomic and racial backgrounds. The experience is intended to increase understanding and social cohesion while individuals expand networks, especially those from marginalized populations.

Interested applicants are invited to submit their proposals through Monday, June 1, 2020 and can learn more and apply here: civic-spring.org

Grantees will be selected and announced in early June.


About the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation

Founded in 1945, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation (www.woodrow.org) identifies and develops the nation’s best minds to meet its most critical challenges. The Foundation supports its Fellows as the next generation of leaders shaping American society. Rajiv Vinnakota became president of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation in July 2019, after serving as Executive Vice President of the Youth & Engagement division at the Aspen Institute and as co-founder and CEO of The SEED Foundation. He also founded Red and Blue Works, a civic learning initiative, in spring 2019.


Civic Spring Project Partners:

Sanda Balaban | YVote

Ashley Berner | Johns Hopkins Institute

for Education Policy

David Bobb | Bill of Rights Institute

Brian Brady | Mikva Challenge

Andrew Brennen | Prichard Committee Student

Voice Team

Mary Jo Callan | University of Michigan–

Edward Ginsberg Center

Elise Corbett | Entercom

Joe Daly | Bloomberg Philanthropies

Mario Fedelin | Changeist

Chris Gates | Philanthropy Bridging Divides

Mary Ellen Giess | Interfaith Youth Core

Abraham Goldberg | James Madison Center for Civic


Jeannemarie Halleck | Waynflete

Sarah Harris | Entercom

Daniel Hart | Rutgers University – Camden

Shawn Healy | McCormick Foundation

Audrey Hutchinson | National League of Cities

Merrit Jones | Student Voice

Deb Jospin | Cities of Service

Rebecca Kelley | National 4-H Council

Matt Leighninger | Public Agenda

Peter Levine | Tufts University’s Jonathan Tisch

College of Civic Life

Phebe Meyer | Clapham Group

Jose Oromi | Horizons National

Nikola Pavelic | Cities of Service

Eileen Resnick | Sumners Foundation

Mark Rodgers | Clapham Group

Rose Rodriguez | Cities of Service

Dara Rose | Horizons National

Anna Saavedra | University of Southern California, Dornsife–

Center for Economic and Social Research

Stefanie Sanford | College Board

Andrew Seligsohn | Campus Compact

Bela Shah Spooner | National League of Cities

Robert Sherman | Robert Sherman Consulting

Julie Silverbrook | iCivics

Lucian Spataro | Arizona State University

Kurt Dean Squire | UCI Donald Bren School of

Information and Computer Sciences

Leslie Gabay Swanston | National Summer Learning


Tamara Tweel | Teagle Foundation

Jane Williams | Horizons National

Adam Zalisk | Amplify


Looking for Fellowship Applications?

Fellowship applications and opportunities can now be found on our new website, citizensandscholars.org.

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