Speak Up! Speak Out!

Speak Up! Speak Out! is an innovative civic education program for middle and high school students designed to teach young people about their communities and help them discover the many ways they can make a difference.

Speak Up! Speak Out! participants work together as teams to identify community problems, craft innovative solutions that address them, and present their findings to community leaders at the end-of-semester Civics Fair. Winning teams receive funds to use toward the implementation of their solutions. Fairs take place in Austin each fall and Dallas each spring.

Students Set the Agenda

This civic education project encourages students to become active participants in their communities. The distinguishing element of Speak Up! Speak Out! is that the students are responsible for determining the issues that will be addressed and developing viable solutions.

Study, Solve, and Share

Over the course of the semester, classes research their communities, select a problem that interests and motivates them, and develop projects, proposals and/or solutions to present to the community. Students present their projects at a Civics Fair held near the end of the fall and spring semesters.

Creativity and Communication

Participants are encouraged to use their diverse talents, experiences, and ideas to develop their projects. This project is unique in that it strives to give SUSO participants the opportunity to learn how young people can be active citizens and to create messages that will be heard by community leaders.

Frequently asked Questions

When and where is the Speak Up! Speak Out! Civics Fair?
The Fair will take place on November 18th at the Texas State Capitol building.

What types of problems do the teams study?
Participants are free to select whatever problem they feel most affects them, their neighbors, and/or the community. Past projects have examined: traffic problems, bullying, dropout rates, teenage pregnancy rates, environmental issues, and graffiti.

What is the time commitment for SUSO?
The SUSO curriculum and projects are flexible. While there is not a set time limit for working on projects or using the lessons, students are expected to do thorough research and craft well thought-out solutions. Most participating classes work on their projects for several weeks during the fall or spring semester.

Is there a cost or fee to participate?
No, SUSO is free to participants! 

Is parking provided?
Yes. Parking is provided for all participants, teachers, judges, chaperones, and volunteers. Bus parking is also provided. 

Is a meal provided? 
Yes. Lunch and a snack will be provided. 

Is there a limit on the amount of students I can bring?
Individual teachers bring no more than 30 students. If you have a special circumstance, please contact us!

What can the students win? 
Winning teams are awarded first, second, and third place for the middle- and high school divisions with awards of $300, $200, $100, respectively. Other awards for research, spirit, and creativity are also distributed. All student participants receive a medal. 
How does the facilitator stipend work?
SUSO Facilitators are eligible for a stipend of $300 for bringing up to 20 students or $500 for bringing 21 or more. This applies to both remote and in-person participants. Facilitators may also receive a one-time $50 bonus for any facilitator referral. The referral must be new to the program and participate in the in-person civics fair. This bonus is only available for Spring 2016 and may not be applied retroactively. If you have referred a facilitator, please email Korrine Salas Young with the details.

Event Details

Join us on May 17th for the Spring 2017 Texas Civics Fair hosted at The University of Texas at Dallas Richardson campus! 
Registration for the Spring 2017 Fair is open! 

Contact Us

Call (512) 471-7210 or email Program Director Korrine Salas Young or Program Assistant Tessa Tigar-Cross with any questions you have or if you are interested in learning more about the program.

Like us on Facebook

Like Speak Up! Speak Out! on Facebook to get updates on the Civics Fair, see videos and photos of student projects, get advice from SUSO alumni, and connect with other SUSO participants, teachers, and mentors.

"I learned that some of the small things in life that are easy to ignore and pass up can make a difference in someone else's life. When people get together, they can change anything." Garret M. Pooley, student at Highlands High School

"SUSO gives us teens a space to speak out and let our voices be heard." Alezia Olivia, student at L.G. Pinkston High School

"They really had a passion for these issues. It really makes you feel great about what they can do when they put their minds to it." SUSO judge, Press Secretary for Kinky Friedman