• Social Innovation Fellowship

Award Year 

Generation Citizen in Chile

Civic participation is the basis for any functioning government. The intrinsically important development of the engaged citizen, however, often falls off the radar of national governments. In the midsts of the frenzy for exceptional grades and test scores within academia, students often fail to receive the type of hands-on education required to actively participate in governments intended to represent them. Generation Citizen addresses this lack of student engagement by empowering high school students: giving them the opportunity to learn and exercise their own voices in their own communities. The Generation Citizen model achieves student civic participation through a carefully crafted curriculum that employs college mentors to teach a hands on civics curriculum before embarking together on a specific action plan to address a social issue relevant to the students´ own community.   We believe that the need for this form of education is not limited to the United States. After a three-week test-run of Generation Citizen in Chile in January of 2011, where civic participation is lowest in all of Latin America, we found that the Generation Citizen model is not only internationally applicable, but has the potential to alter the mindset of a new generation that is currently disengaged from the world of politics. We propose the creation of a Generation Citizen program in Chile through a close and well-informed partnership with the Universidad Pontifica Catolica de Valparaiso. Together we will work to fight an international plague of uninformed and disinterested students through a workable, proven model of civic education.    


Personal Statement

During high school and college I have had the opportunity to teach, mentor, coach and work with a great variety of students in both Latin America and the U.S. Through these experiences I have come to believe the maxim that students teach us just as much as we teach them, that there is a mutual teaching and learning that takes place within this type of interaction. So this past winter when I was given the opportunity to incorporate the Generation Citizen model in Valparaiso, Chile and work closely with a group of high school students there, I was enthusiastic not only to use this hands-on style of civic education, but also to learn about the students perspectives and concerns. In the preparation and running of this program I learned about the Chilean education and political systems and most importantly was able to look at this type of education from another context. This program gives students from the U.S. just this: the opportunity to teach, learn and participate in service learning in Chile while helping students make a difference in their own communities.