Annette Strauss Institute Receives Grant from the Texas Bar Foundation for Civic Education Program in Elementary Schools

Elementary students participating in a get-out-the-vote activity during the Annette Strauss Institute's Explore UT event. 

AUSTIN, TX (June 12, 2019) — The Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life is expanding its civic education program, Speak Up! Speak Out!, to third through fifth grade students for the 2019-20 school year. The expansion is made possible through a generous grant provided by the Texas Bar Foundation

Speak Up! Speak Out! cultivates agency in students by emphasizing skills that empower their voices to create tangible and noticeable change in their community. Since 2002, thousands of middle and high school students have been empowered through Speak Up! Speak Out! to seek out local problems in their communities and the program has equipped them with the civic dispositions and research tolls necessary to formulate solutions to problems. Beginning in the fall of 2019, elementary schools and educators will have the opportunity to administer a Social Studies TEKs-aligned civic curriculum to third through fifth graders and to facilitate project-based learning their classrooms.  

By participating in Speak Up! Speak Out!, educators and students will have the opportunity to present their projects to civic leaders during the Speak Up! Speak Out! State Civics Fair for third through fifth grade students in spring 2020. Students will compete to further fund the implementation of their projects. Additionally, elementary teachers may participate in professional development workshops beginning this summer to better facilitate project-based learning and social emotional learning in the classroom. 

Heather Vaughn, the K-12 Educational Outreach Program Coordinator said, “Speak Up! Speak Out! is expanding to elementary students to provide the experiential learning integral to intellectual and emotional development. When young children are invited to solve real problems, we cultivate their personal power to enhance their sense of self and their ability to contribute to their communities.” 

About the Texas Bar Foundation 

Since its inception in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $20 million in grants to law-related programs. Supported by members of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar Foundation is the nation’s largest charitably-funded bar foundation. 

About the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life 

Housed in the Moody College of Communications at the University of Texas at Austin, the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life was founded in 2000 on the belief that active, engaged citizens are made, not born, and that society benefits when citizens take part in it. The Institute is a living laboratory for the research activity and intellectual inquiry needed to cultivate future generations of citizens and leaders who are prepared to preserve and defend our most basic democratic ideals.