Virtual Week of Action uses online civics education to prepare students to shape the future of our democracy
New York – Mayor Bill de Blasio and Incoming Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter are celebrating the third annual Civics Week in New York City schools – a week-long celebration of youth voices and civic engagement in an effort to build a more active citizenry. Part of the NYC Department of Education’s Civics for All initiative, Civics Week brings together a coalition of citywide partners including DemocracyNYC, the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit, and civic leaders to help teach students K-12 the skills of civic engagement, the foundations of government and the democratic process, and the importance of registering to vote.
“Somewhere, in one of our public schools classrooms this Civics Week, a future Mayor of New York City is discovering the impact public service can make for their friends and family,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Maybe I’m biased, but I’ve found Civics Week to be one of the most exciting weeks for our students and I’m glad we can ensure all students are able to participate this school year.”
“Civics Week is the time to celebrate young voices and civic empowerment, while getting students of all ages engaged in the democratic process through voter registration drives, town halls and more,” said Bronx Executive Superintendent and Incoming Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter. “I’m thrilled to see so many schools take an active role in engaging with our young people around these important issues and preparing them to become the future leaders of our great City.”
“One of the most important things we can do as educators is empower students to use their voices and play an active role in our democracy,” said Outgoing Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “Our young people are the future leaders of our city and our nation, and Civics Week will inspire students to become life-long voters and engaged members of their communities.”
From March 8th to 12th, students in grades K through 12 have been participating in online events, including virtual classroom visits from civic leaders, interactive meet and greets with authors and journalists, and workshops on ranked-choice voting. Students are also being given the opportunity to register to vote, with staff from the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit hosting voter registration drives. During these events, students are engaging with new technology to make it easier than ever to register to vote and to enhance learning, including a tool to learn how to cast your vote with the new ranked-choice voting system.
Beyond Civics Week, the Civics for All initiative engages students year-round with innovative civics education programming in classrooms across the city. In past years, Civics Week has included in-person voter registration drives, town halls, classroom visits and other activities that brought civic engagement resources directly to students in city schools. Since its inception, over 50,000 students have registered to vote as part of Civics Week.
«It’s more important than ever to ensure that our students have the information and tools they need to make their voices heard—and that’s exactly what Civics Week brings to classrooms across the city,» said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives J. Phillip Thompson. «This year is no exception, with innovation leading the way to greater civic engagement by rolling out new tools to meet students in their digital classrooms, ensuring our youth are not left behind in this critical moment.»
“Civics Week is a great opportunity to help recruit the next generation of leaders and to engage with young people about the importance of civic participation and voting,” said Laura Wood, DemocracyNYC Senior Advisor & General Counsel. “DemocracyNYC is thrilled to visit virtual DOE classrooms this week, encouraging students to register to vote, become life-long voters and engaged members of their communities. We thank our critical partners at DOE and PEU for their efforts in this city-wide mobilization to empower youth to join in the democratic process.”
«Our Student Voter Registration Drive is striving to make the process of participating in elections as easy as possible for the city’s youth,” said Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit Director Adrienne Lever. “PEU’s proactive outreach model leverages innovative technology and tactics to engage New Yorkers and connect them to critical services. That model is proving particularly important during this incredibly challenging year – I am proud that we are able to work in close partnership with DOE to reach students in their virtual classrooms, and provide them with tools and technology that will help them actively engage in our democracy.”
“I am pleased to participate in this year’s Civics Week in NYC Schools, which allows me to engage with youth who are our future leaders,” said State Senator Roxanne J. Persaud, SD-19. “Answering students’ questions will enable me to emphasize the need for civic engagement and highlight community involvement. Now more than ever, it is crucial that our youth are engaged in their community’s needs. I thank DOE and all other partners for their efforts to involve and empower our youth.”
«As a public school teacher turned State Senator, it was an absolute pleasure answering such thoughtful civics questions from New York students. Get ready, because Gen Z is gearing up to show the world how justice gets won,” said State Senator Jabari Brisport.
«Meaningful civic education provides our students with the necessary tools to become future leaders in their communities,” said State Senator Alessandra Biaggi. “I am grateful to participate in this year’s virtual Civics Week and give insight into the inner workings of the New York State Senate. I’d like to extend my gratitude to the NYC Department of Education, the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit, and DemocracyNYC for coordinating this important week.»
«As a State Senator of a district with a high concentration of low-income and minority communities, I know how important it is to empower, educate, and mobilize our youth, who have been historically under-represented,» said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. «That’s why this virtual Civic Week is important. It is critical that we continue to promote civic engagement among our youth since they will be the ones responsible for New York’s future.»
“Empowering youth to engage in our democracy through projects like Civics Week is a great opportunity for children to learn how to be active participants in government,” said State Senator Andrew Gounardes. “By equipping the next generation with the tools and knowledge they need to be civically active and responsible, we are investing in a brighter future for our city. I applaud the work this coalition has done and the positive impact programs like these create for New York’s children.”
«Civics Week has become one of my favorite events each year. Engaging our kids in the hows and whys of our government helps strengthen our republic,» said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. «I applaud the DOE for keeping Civics Week going in the pandemic, and for bringing together the many partners who will help demonstrate, on multiple levels, the importance of civic engagement.»
«I enjoyed greatly the opportunity to answer students’ questions during Civics Week. Every young person should know that their voice matters and feel empowered to create change as impassioned participants in their community,» said Council Member Karen Koslowitz.
Starting in 2021, New York City will use Ranked Choice Voting in primary and special elections for local offices, which means that voters can rank up to five candidates in order of preference, instead of choosing just one. The voter registration deadline for the upcoming June 22nd primary is May 28, 2021.
New Yorkers who need to register to vote can do so through the DMV online, by mail or in-person at a New York City Board of Elections Office. New Yorkers who are interested in registering to vote, need to update their existing registration, or want more information on the upcoming elections can call 311 or visit www.voting.nyc.
About the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit:
The Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit (PEU) is pioneering a new model of government that proactively educates New Yorkers about and connects them to key City services. PEU Outreach Specialists provide individualized, in-person, and long-term case management across a broad range of policy issues. In the process, PEU helps New Yorkers build stronger relationships with their government. PEU’s core programs include the Tenant Support Unit, the Rent Freeze Unit, Universal Access to Counsel, the Home Support Unit, GetCoveredNYC, and DemocracyNYC. To contact any of these programs for assistance or to learn more about PEU, call 311 or visit nyc.gov/MayorsPEU.
DemocracyNYC is New York City’s nonpartisan civic engagement initiative, which works to increase participation in elections and strengthen ties to government. Visit nyc.gov/democracynyc to learn more.