At this decisive moment in our nation, we know two things: civic engagement is key to tackling the challenges we face, and civic learning is vital for engaged, equitable, and sustained civic engagement.  Effective civic learning equips young people with the knowledge and skills they need to be thoughtful and effective citizen leaders, a vision that reflects the values of democratic life.

PACE is a network of foundations and funders who share a commitment to civic engagement and democratic practice.  We’ve developed this resource to offer an introduction to the field of civic learning, support understanding of this increasingly important topic, and inspire attention and interest in this space during an important time.  

This resource aims to:

  • definitions and values of civic learning
  • highlights a series of proven practices of effective civic learning
  • illustrates the challenges in our current civic learning reality
  • offers insights of how philanthropy can be part of the solutions


At the end of the Primer, you’ll see three recommendations for philanthropy to further its support of civic learning.  Those recommendations are also reflected in the pdf handout below:

Recommendations for Philanthropy (pdf)

PACE is committed to continuing this important and timely conversation, beginning with a collaboration on the Democracy at a Crossroads National Summit and a co-sponsored dialogue at the 2017 National Conference on Citizenship Annual Conference, Exploring Civic Learning as a Pathway to Equity and Opportunity.

PACE was also part of the Democracy at a Crossroads Summit, which took place in Washington, D.C. on September 21.  In preparation for this event, Peter Levine and Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg authored a briefing paper: “The Republic is (Still) at Risk–and Civics is Part of the Solution,” with support from PACE members, Hewlett Foundation and McCormick Foundation, along with the Carnegie Corporation of New York.  The paper delves into the simultaneous realities of Americans’ growing distrust in the institutions of our democracy, alongside decreasing participation in civic associations.  The authors highlight six proven practices of civic learning with case studies from several initiatives, and offer insights on tackling inequality and amplifying innovation with the aim of healing our nation’s frayed civic fabric with a focus on our young people.  To read or download the paper, click here.

Our team will also host a series of webinars and other efforts to support funders on their journeys toward civic learning and engagement.  To make sure you receive timely updates on PACE programming, please subscribe