For the nonprofit iCivics, which provides education tools to inspire the next generation of engaged citizens, the 2020 election was a crucial opportunity. But it also posed a challenge, given that it occurred during the pandemic shutdown, when kids were learning remotely and even offline.
Executive director Louise Dubé set about reformatting iCivics’s games—such as Win the White House, where kids work as a group on their own presidential campaigns—to allow students to collaborate asynchronously, and caching them so kids without reliable internet could still play. The organization further addressed the digital divide by making PDF printable versions of all of its materials.
Dubé’s accessibility efforts paid off: iCivics, which also creates lesson plans for middle and high school classrooms, saw a 120% increase in use of its at-home resources in the first six months of 2020 and reached 9 million K–12 students in all 50 states throughout the year. Win the White House was played 2.6 million times in November 2020 alone—a record for the five-year-old game.
Dubé also welcomed a dozen kids to iCivics’s second Youth Equity Fellowship, a paid program where students get hands-on training. A California ninth grader, for example, used his experience to persuade his local school board to adopt his plan on climate change earlier this year.
“Young Americans are not big believers in democracy,” Dubé says. “You can take two paths from there. You can say, ‘Screw it, nothing works.’ Or you can say, ‘I can do something about this.'”
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