Participate Civics: High School

Participate Civics: High School

Through this capstone civics course, CPS high school students develop the critical knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to be active, engaged, and influential participants in our democracy.

Participate Civics Curriculum, High School

Two Essential Questions provide the underpinnings of the course and curriculum as students explore the power of democracy, elections, policy, activism and media:

  • Who has power in our democracy, why do they have it, and how do they use it?
  • How can I exercise power by participating in our democracy?

Young people who can answer these Essential Questions will, we believe, have taken the first steps toward active and informed participation in our democracy. They will understand the significance of elections in a democracy and know how they can participate—by voting, running for office, campaigning, helping inform and register other voters, and more.

Accessing the Curriculum and Training

To learn about, experience aspects of, and gain access to the Participate Civics Curriculum HS Civics Teachers will have to attend a professional learning opportunity from SSCE, usually offered in the summer and at the start of the school year.

Participate is a curriculum developed by CPS to meet the newly required state civics graduation requirement. Through this capstone course, students will develop the critical knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to be active and engaged participants in our democracy.

All CPS high school civics teachers are eligible for free training provided by the district and our partners. Trained teachers gain access to a rich variety of resources, partnerships, and student events, including the following:

  • A year-long cohort community experience. This includes a summer kick-off institute and 3 full-day workshops throughout the school year. In between these workshops, teachers will connect with one another to share ideas and enrichments, and support one another.
  • Opportunities to engage students with local civic partners: Civics classes will have opportunities to connect with various civics institutions around public policy, election support, and other civic learning. Partners include Chicago Votes, Office of the City Clerk, and the Aspen Institute.
  • Opportunities to become a Fellow: Leaders that innovate in the course and one or more of the Powerful Practices hired to support teacher training and resource development have the opportunity to become a Fellow. We are grateful to our most recent Fellows: Elizabeth Robbins, Brooks HS and Daniel Michmerhuizen, Juarez HS.

For more information on professional development opportunities for teachers, or if you are a partner interested in supporting the course and program, contact Wayde Grinstead, HS Civic Learning Specialist, at

Curricular Resources

Authentic Learning Experiences and Impact

The course prioritizes connecting young people to community, city, and national elected officials, organizers, and civic leaders in discourse about the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to be powerful in our democracy today. In particular, CPS helps local city representatives to connect with students in their ward to discuss their values, needs, and their vision for our city. View Orr Academy High School's Jamboard with key takeaways from their meeting with Alderwoman Mitts.

In order to elevate students' perspective as part of our national discourse on American civic identity, CPS and the Aspen Institute's Citizenship and American Identity program are working together to highlight Chicago students' perspectives and to demonstrate how students are translating their knowledge into action in their communities. Learn what CPS Civics students believe What Every American Should Know in order to be civically powerful and culturally literate: