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Home Programs Education Programs School Participatory Budgeting in Arizona American History and Civics National Activities Grant

CFA Receives Major Investment to Expand School Participatory Budgeting as Innovative Strategy in Civic Learning

CFA received the American History and Civics National Activities discretionary grant from the U.S. Department of Education, an award of $1.5 million spanning over three years. This investment is set to catapult the School Participatory Budgeting (SPB) program into a sustainable beacon for civic education in Arizona and beyond, ultimately expanding access to high-quality civic learning and preparing young people who are informed, equipped, and empowered to lead into the future.

The project will meet this need at a critical turning point for civic education, American democracy, and civic life in Arizona. We need active, informed, and engaged communities more than ever. Research has shown that high-quality experiential civic learning can have a meaningful impact on the long-term engagement of young people, yet significant gaps persist in access to these strategies by educators and underserved student populations.

SPB is an evidence-based civic learning strategy that empowers students to make real decisions over real dollars to improve their school communities. SPB is proven to improve student civic skills, attitudes, knowledge, and practices. It is also a highly adaptable strategy that can be quickly scaled, applied in diverse community contexts, and layered with classroom content to deepen and extend American history, civic, and government education instruction.

CFA partners closely with the Arizona State University Participatory Governance Initiative (ASU PGI) and school districts throughout Arizona to engage students across the state in SPB processes. To date, SPB has engaged 70,000 students across 62 campuses with nearly $1 million in public dollars invested in over 100 student-developed improvement projects.

Building upon a strong track record of partnership and collaboration, with this investment, CFA, ASU PGI, and our partners will focus on:

  1. Integrating hands-on civic learning through SPB with content in American history, civics, and government
  2. Expanding the SPB Institute to provide professional development and technical assistance to hundreds of educators across the state
  3. Increasing access to experiential civic learning among underserved student communities by expanding partnerships to engage 100 school communities in SPB annually over a three-year period
  4. Fostering wider adoption of high-quality civic learning practices statewide and nationally through comprehensive partnership development, creation of toolkits and case studies, and increasing awareness

SPB will serve as a model not only within Arizona but also in school communities across the nation. Ultimately, this project will contribute to student learning outcomes in the short term, their likelihood of being active civic participants in the near term, and greater health and resiliency of our democracy for the long term.

In September 2023, Center for the Future of Arizona was awarded a three-year $1.5 million American History and Civics National Activities grant from the U.S. Department of Education in support of School Participatory Budgeting: Innovation in Civic Learning.

Center for the Future of Arizona’s School Participatory Budgeting program is supported by the U.S. Department of Education. A total of approximately $2 million, or 88 percent, of the program is currently financed with federal funds over the next three fiscal years, and approximately $290,000, or 12 percent, is funded by other sources.