Competition for National Civics Program

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Ussyp logoSacramento, California – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that high school principals have until October 1, 2014 to nominate students for the prestigious United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP), which sends students to Washington, D.C. to learn about the federal government.

“Civics education helps students become engaged citizens and critical thinkers who can solve difficult problems,” Torlakson said. “These are important skills that will help students in college and throughout their lives.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) coordinates the competition in California. Students must be nominated by their high school principal to participate and they have to be juniors or seniors currently enrolled in any California public or private secondary school. In addition, they have to be serving in an elected or appointed capacity in student government or a civic or educational organization.

Torlakson will select four finalists, including two delegates, a first alternate, and a second alternate. The two delegates will participate in an intensive study of the federal government as guests of the U.S. Senate from March 7–14, 2015, in Washington, D.C. The Hearst Foundation, which sponsors the program, will pay all expenses for the delegates, including transportation, hotel, and meals. In addition, each of the delegates will receive a $5,000 college scholarship from the Foundation. Alternates attend the events only if the delegates are unable to participate. The two delegates and two alternates will be introduced at the State Board of Education meeting in Sacramento next January.

Torlakson, as part of his Civic Education Initiative, teamed up with California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye last year to convene a California Task Force on K-12 Civic Learning. Last month the task force produced a report, Revitalizing K–12 Civic Learning in California: A Blueprint for Action (PDF; 2MB), which highlights the importance of teaching students civics skills so they can become informed and engaged community members who help keep our democracy vital.

For more information on the nomination process, go to CDE’s United States Senate Youth Program Web page or contact David Carriker in the Office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction at 916-319-0173 or dcarriker@cde.ca.gov.

Hard copies of the application are available upon request. The completed application packet must contain an original and one copy of the California Student Application, California Qualifying Examination, and an unofficial student transcript. The packet must be mailed to the California Department of Education, 1430 N Street, Suite 5602, Sacramento, CA 95814-5901, and must be postmarked before Wednesday, October 1, 2014.