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How Books Inspire Action: The Citizen Power Project

Our guest author today is Marissa Wasseluk, Digital Communication Manager for non-profit FirstBook.

All too often, young people feel they don’t have the power to fix problems in their communities How can books inspire students to take action and become engaged citizens?

Earlier this year, First Book, along with our partners the American Federation of Teachers and the Albert Shanker Institute, presented educators nationwide with a challenge: identify an issue and a civic engagement project important to their students, school or community. We then asked for proposals on how, with the support of books and resources from First Book, their students could take action to address that issue and show their students that they have a voice and the ability to make positive changes happen.

We called this challenge The Citizen Power Activation Project. Funded by the Aspen Institute’s Pluribus Project, 15 proposals  - five each from elementary, middle and high schools - would be chosen to receive a collection of special resources to help them implement their projects and a $500 grant for use on the First Book Marketplace.

More than 920 proposals were received.

The 15 classroom projects that stood out and won the challenge addressed a wide range of issues, such as:

  • Learning about global cultural perspectives as a way to build compassion,
  • Planning a community garden to promote healthy eating,
  • Combating bullying,
  • Learning American Sign Language and
  • Building a health and wellness library.

We believe these projects, and the books and resources First Book will provide to help them flourish, will help these educators and the young leaders they teach to advance the causes they are so passionate about. And, by sharing stories about the successes of these projects, we hope to inspire others around the country to be change makers, themselves.

With our partners, we'll be checking in with the inspiring projects through the end of the year to update you on their progress toward creating innovative learning environments, and the impact of the projects on their respective communities.

Stay tuned for more about the Citizen Power Challenge winners! Read more about the Citizen Power Challenge here.

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