youtube_logo_red facebook-logo twitter-logo google-plus-red-logo

Why CAP?

Civic Action Project (CAP) is a project-based learning model for civics and government courses. It offers a practicum for high school students in effective and engaged citizenship and uses blended learning to engage students in civic activities both in and out of the traditional U.S. government classroom. By using web-based technology and civics-based instruction and activities, students exercise important 21st century skills in digital literacy, critical thinking, collaboration, self-direction, and learning to be an engaged and effective citizen in a democracy. CAP provides numerous opportunities for teachers to integrate Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects (CCSS ELA).

Students also see how the content of a government course can apply to the real world. By taking civic actions, they practice what real citizens do when they go about trying solve a real policy-related problem. CAP fulfills best-practices in service-learning with an emphasis on public policy.

The Teacher’s Role

The CAP teacher coaches and guides students through the civic action process as they select a problem or issue, research it, determine and take civic actions, and report and document the experience. The teacher motivates, challenges, critiques, and assesses student progress. Through a blended learning approach, teachers can let students take the reins of their civic learning, guiding them along the way.

The Student’s Role

CAP allows students to create projects on issues they care about, for their school or community. They see the connection of their civic actions to public policy and can share ideas for civics projects with each other and other CAP students nationwide. The CAP student is accountable for completing the civic action process, just as with a science project or term paper. The CAP Planner, a set of documents that guide students through the process, provides teachers with assessment information as well as a way to manage multiple student projects. While the teacher introduces and monitors the CAP, it is important that students take the lead in completing their civic actions.

Civic Actions. CAP challenges students to work on an actual problem, issue, or policy by taking civic actions. Civic actions build upon classroom civics lessons, discussion of controversial issues, service-learning, and other proven practices of effective civic education. These actions can be many and varied, including:

  • getting informed about a public issue or problem
  • thinking critically about the issue or problem
  • discovering how government is involved with the problem
  • learning how government makes decisions
  • developing a position
  • engaging in civic dialogue
  • building constituencies
  • working together toward a common goal
  • doing civic writing
  • making presentations
  • advocating for and defending positions
  • meeting with officials
  • making decisions

Administrator's Role

School principals play a key role at CAP sites. Students will come to you for advice and assistance as they work on their civic action projects. Many students have shared that working with their schools’ administrators, counselors, nurses, law enforcement officials, and other leaders made a positive difference in their work on CAP. Students reported gaining communication and presentation skills, feeling more confident in their abilities to solve problems and to work with authority figures (policy makers). In addition, students reported that through working with school leadership, they realized that it is important to understand that making, enforcing, or changing school policy is more complex than they thought.

It is important to note that not all of the CAP students were successful in impacting school policy. However, students who were able to have discussons with administrators/leadership and who perceived that administrators wanted to support their efforts reported similar gains in knowledge, skills, and attitudinal outcomes as those students whose civic actions did impact policies.

If you are interested in using CAP in a specific way, CRF staff can connect you with administrators and teachers to speak with.


CAP and High-Quality Service Learning
CAP is designed to support research-based practices in civic education, including engaging students in meaningful service-learning activities that are connected to the curriculum. (Guardian of Democracy, 2011)

CAP and Proven Practices in Civic Education
CRF contributed to the research for the original Civic Mission of Schools report and embedded the promising practices in the Civic Action Project. The Guardian of Democracy report validates the “promising approaches” as “proven practices.”

Guardian of Democracy: The Civic Mission of Schools
Released September, 2011, Guardian of Democracy: The Civic Mission of Schools report builds on the findings of the seminal 2003 Civic Mission of Schools report. CAP has been designed to support the promising approaches described in these reports.

CRF welcomes suggestions from the field for further aligning CAP with these approaches as well as recommendations for professional development.

CAP Field Test Evaluation

Executive Summary


The Civic Mission of Schools

The Civic Opportunity Gap

CAP Lessons

The CAP curriculum consists of lessons and civics activities connected to the civic action process. Lessons 1–5 are key to helping students identify an issue, problem, or policy and to begin taking civic actions. Lessons 6–14 provide specific examples of ways citizens impact public policy and help students develop civic skills such as persuasion, presenting to audiences, and deeper policy analysis. Through the readings and interactive classroom activities contained in the lessons, students learn how government content applies to policymaking at the local level, how policy is made and can be influenced, and strategies for effective citizenship.

CAP is a project of Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF). Click here to learn more about CRF.


SMHS Students Make Impact in Sacramento, San Marino Outlook


CAP teacher Valerie Felix Receives The California Civic Learning Award of Distinction

Last modified: Monday, 9 June 2014, 09:23 AM