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Florida Joint Center for Citizenship to Serve as State Clearinghouse for Civic Learning

Posted on: January 31, 2008

Helios Education Foundation Invests Over $556,000 in Center’s Training Program for Middle School Social Studies Teachers

TALLAHASSEE, FL — The Lou Frey Institute of Politics and Government at the University of Central Florida and the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida today unveiled a unique partnership, establishing the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship — a primary resource to help strengthen civic education in the state. An outgrowth of the bi-partisan civic education initiative Graham and Frey launched last year, the Center will promote the development of enlightened, responsible, and actively engaged citizens and will lead efforts to improve the teaching and learning of civics in Florida schools.

"Educated and informed voters are the foundation of our nation’s democratic process. I applaud the efforts of two of our state’s most distinguished statesmen, and encourage Floridians to support their efforts,” said Governor Crist. “Our state’s future is in the hands of the children who are now in school. Through sound civics education, we can ensure that Florida’s future leaders have the knowledge and skills to make their voices heard in the political process.”

Under the leadership of former Senator Graham and former Congressman Frey, the Center will work to coordinate efforts to improve civics education in Florida and provide leadership to help make civics a priority in Florida’s teacher education programs. It will also encourage the use of classroom materials that help students understand government in the state and in communities where they live. Periodically, the Joint Center will report to the citizens of Florida on the state of Florida’s civic culture.

One of the Center’s first initiatives is to implement a statewide professional development training program for middle school teachers. Helios Education Foundation is partnering with the Center on this initiative and is providing a community investment of $556,466 toward the program. As a result of these funds, the Center will be offering weekly training programs for middle school teachers statewide during the summers of 2008 and 2009.

“Helios Education Foundation is focused on changing lives through education, and our greatest area of emphasis is the middle school years, including teacher professional development,” said the Foundation’s President and CEO Paul Luna. “We are pleased to invest over $556,000 in the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship, a multi-university, public-private collaboration that will ultimately improve the quality of civics education statewide.”

“The opportunity to partner with Helios Education Foundation provides the Joint Center with an immediate opportunity to make an important difference,” said Senator Graham. “We are grateful to the Foundation for its willingness to make an investment in the quality of citizenship. Florida’s future depends on it.”

Congressman Lou Frey added that the Florida Legislature has already recognized the weakness of civic education in the state. “That is why,” he said, “they passed House Bill 7087 in 2006, which requires school districts to offer at least one semester of civics in middle schools. When they passed that bill the Legislature took a first important step to restoring the civic mission of Florida’s schools. The project that the Joint Center is undertaking, thanks to the support of Helios Education Foundation, will help to realize the Legislature’s intention.”

Teachers participating in the week long summer training program will be able to do so at no cost. As part of the training program, they will participate in curriculum centered on providing students with the history and principles of constitutional democracy in the United States. The curriculum also promotes critical thinking, problem solving, and the development of important civic skills. It ultimately helps students understand what they need to know to be effective citizens. The program will build on a curriculum developed by the Center for Civic Education and promoted by its long-time Florida partner, the Florida Law Related Education Association, Inc.

About the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship
The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship promotes the development of enlightened, responsible, and actively engaged citizens. The center was formed through a collaboration of the Bob Graham Center for Public Services at the University of Florida and the Lou Frey Institute for Politics and Government at the University of Central Florida. The Center is housed at the University of Central Florida and will serve as the State’s primary civics information resource center as well as provide leadership around a number of efforts to improve the teaching and learning of civics. For more information, visit The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship at www.floridacitizen.org.

About Helios Education Foundation
Helios Education Foundation is the largest nonprofit organization serving Arizona and Florida focused solely on education. The Foundation’s endowment is in excess of $600 million. Helios Education Foundation is dedicated to enriching the lives of individuals in Arizona and Florida by creating opportunities for success in postsecondary education. The Foundation’s community investments are made across three impact areas: Early Childhood Education, the Transition Years (grades 5-12) and Postsecondary Education. Since inception in 2004, Helios Education Foundation has invested nearly $42 million into education-related programs and initiatives in both states. For more information, visit the Foundation online at www.helios.org.

Category: College and Career Readiness

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