- In 2018, students at Thurgood Marshall Academy launched Pathways 2 Power after peers were shot and killed in the school's neighborhood in Washington, D.C., teacher Karen Lee writes in an Edutopia article.
- The student-led advocacy initiative, which now includes students from around D.C., is designed to be a platform for students' voices and a way to effect change for problems affecting youth, such as gun violence, housing insecurity and mental health.
- The initiative utilizes the concept of action civics, which encourages young people to find their voice, and gives students space to work through how they feel about an issue, come up with solutions and ask teachers to listen to what's important to the youth. Students also are encouraged to celebrate their small wins while fighting the bigger battle that constitutes change.
Teaching students both critical thinking skills and how to be engaged in their communities is an important step in bringing subjects like civics and social studies to life. Developing a curriculum that encourages students to take action in their communities is similar to bringing students outdoors to learn about the environment. In both cases, real-world experience not only inspires learning, it deepens connections and encourages retention.
In 2016, students around the country participated in a National Writing Campaign to encourage youth to participate in civic leadership. The campaign, called Letters To The Next President 2.0, urged students to use their words to be agents of change. Among students’ top concerns were immigration, guns and education-related issues. In lower-income and minority communities, the top issues were violence and sexual violence.
On March 14, 2018, many students at a Massachusetts middle school participated in a walkout to protest gun violence in schools. Some teachers, including Dinah Mack, founder of the Youth Activism 101 blog, connected this walkout with her classroom lessons on the history of protests. Finding topics students relate to, such as gun violence, can help them find common ground with historic movements, deepening their understanding of lessons.