December 22, 2015
Delegate Anderson speaking to Prince William County students to launch the new Civic Engagement program

Makes $23,000 Grant to Prince William County Public Schools

The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia has just awarded a grant of $23,000 to SPARK, the Education Foundation of Prince William County Public Schools, to support a new Civic Engagement Program for 200 middle school students across the county. The program is designed to teach students how their local, state and federal governments work; to give them an understanding of how to change public policy; and to offer hands-on experience researching and debating current issues in the community.

This grant was made possible through the Haymarket Fund, a donor advised fund at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia. This fund supports families and children with an emphasis on health, education, community development and improvement, and arts and culture.

This new program kicked off last week with a special program at George Mason University’s Science and Technology campus in Manassas. Organized by Jeff Girvan, Supervisor of History and Social Sciences for Prince William County Public Schools, the students enjoyed presentations by Virginia Delegate Richard Anderson on the role of state legislature in civil society, Lecount Holmes, a Frederick Douglas reenactor, and Colonel Richard Camp, USMC, Retired.

An integral part of the program includes hands on advocacy training. The students will conduct research on civic and social issues and then advocate for change around those issues with elected officials and other policy influencers, learning about the power of civic engagement in the process.

In February, the students will take a field trip to Richmond for a tour of the state capital with Delegate Anderson. The program will culminate in June with final presentations to government officials or agencies responsible for implementing the new policy.

“We funded this new Civic Engagement Program in Prince William County Public Schools because we believe it will both teach and encourage active citizen engagement with all levels of government,” said Eileen Ellsworth, President of the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia. “It is a terrific opportunity for these middle school students to acquire a much deeper understanding and appreciation of the role of government in our society and their capacity to influence the course of events.”