The Education for American Civic Life initiative supports efforts to prepare students to become informed and engaged participants in the civic life of their local and national communities. Grants of varying amounts, ranging from $100,000-$300,000 over a 24-36 month period, will be made to each funded project participating in this initiative. The size of the grant will be based on the scope of the project. We expect this grant program will remain open for approximately three to five years.

Goals

The mission of the Teagle Foundation is “to support and strengthen liberal arts education, which we see as fundamental to meaningful work, effective citizenship, and a fulfilling life.” Civic education entails an understanding of American history and the ways our society has met or failed to meet the standard of its own democratic principles. When viewed expansively, this knowledge can guide students to recognize how communities are formed and continually reformed, and can lead students to consider their responsibilities beyond themselves. Civic knowledge lays the groundwork for members of a shared community to appreciate and grapple with their differences, and to build a mutually respectful collective civil life.
 
Colleges and universities often assume that their incoming students have received prior preparation on fundamental topics such as the formation of the American republic or the drafting of the U.S. Constitution, contention over its meaning, and its amendment over time. On this assumption, they miss critical opportunities to help undergraduates develop a mature understanding of the history and fragility of democracy. We encourage institutions to embed these themes across their curriculum and to invite deeper academic inquiry on critical issues that vex our local and national communities.
 
Through Education for American Civic Life, the Foundation seeks to elevate the civic objectives of liberal arts education by partnering with institutions offering bold and coherent initiatives that endow students with the content, skills, and sensibility to participate in a political system designed for self-governance. While progress has been made at many institutions of higher education to promote civic action and various forms of community service as part of the undergraduate experience, the Foundation is especially concerned with grounding such action and service in comprehensive civic knowledge through teaching, reading, debate, and discussion centered in the curriculum.
 

Criteria for Project Proposals

The Teagle Foundation welcomes the participation of a diverse array of institutions—community colleges, liberal arts colleges, comprehensive and research universities—in this initiative. Grants of varying amounts, ranging from $100,000-$300,000 over a 24-36-month period, will be made to each funded project participating in this initiative. Requests from both single institutions and multiple institutions partnering together will be considered. The size of the grant will be based on the scope of the project. Proposals for planning grants in the range of $25,000 over 6-12 months are strongly encouraged.
 
Through this initiative, the Foundation seeks ambitious projects that confront gaps in undergraduates’ civic knowledge and prepare them for the intellectual demands of democratic participation. Successful proposals will seek to promote learning about the formation of the American republic, the crafting of its Constitution, the history of contention over the interpretation of the Constitution, the development of representative political structures, and the principles of democracy. Civic education is strongest when it is not treated as a theoretical or abstract subject but when it becomes part of the lived experience of students and links their work across disciplines. For this reason, the majority of our grants go to institutions that give students an opportunity to connect big questions in areas like governance, history, and law, to the local history and current conditions of the community outside the campus gates.
 

Specific Areas of Interest

The Education for American Civic Life Initiative is focused on funding in two particular areas: (1) anchoring significant questions in democratic thought in local history and community and (2) strengthening preparation for public service.

Regardless of curricular approach, all successful proposals are expected to address the following:

Submission Process

Requests for grant support will be considered following our two-stage application process. First, we ask that prospective grantees share brief (3-5 page) concept papers. After review of the concept papers, a limited number of applicants will then be invited to submit full proposals. For complete details on the submission process, please refer to information on how we grant.

We encourage interested institutions to submit a concept paper that names all the campus partners and sketches the project description, with an eye towards meeting the criteria discussed above. The guiding question to keep in mind while developing your concept paper (and if invited, your proposal) is: in what ways will your curricula be substantively different as a result of a grant? And how will those curricular innovations be sustained beyond the life of a grant?

We consider concept papers on a rolling basis. The Teagle Foundation’s fiscal year begins on July 1 and its Board of Directors reviews all grant requests when it meets in November, February, and May. If a proposal is invited, program staff will confer with applicants to determine the appropriate timeline for submitting a full proposal in line for potential review by the board. All concept papers should be submitted electronically at proposals@teagle.org. If invited, full proposals will be submitted through the Foundation’s online application system.
 

Foundation Contact

Please contact Tamara Mann Tweel, program director for civic initiatives, at ttweel@teagle.org if you have questions about Education for American Civic Life.