Initiative to enrich WV civics and social studies education

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News Release: Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education Launches New Education Initiative   

With the help of a $136,250.00 Benedum Foundation grant, the Robert C. Byrd Center and Shepherd University announces the People Powered Civic Action, Community Engagement, and American Representative Democracy initiative to enrich the civics and social studies education of West Virginia students across the state. Utilizing the rich resources of the Robert C. Byrd Archives, this educational initiative has been structured to transform the teaching of 10th, 11th, and 12th grade history, social studies, and civics classes, as well as AP American history classes. 

The People Powered Project is designed to bring together thirty public school teachers from across the state for an intensive introduction to the principles behind the People Powered teaching project, as well as a range of experiential learning tools developed by the Byrd Center for the teaching of civics and social studies classes. High school history and civics teachers can apply for one of two intensive workshops, held virtually from the Byrd Center on June 28 and 30, 2023.  If accepted for the People Powered Program, the teachers will receive a stipend of $925 each for the time and energy spent participating in the workshop and the pilot project over the 2023-24 academic year. 

At the end of the 2023-24 academic year, civics, history and social studies teachers participating in the project will select a particularly effective, fun, or high-stakes learning activity, lesson, or unit to present at the April 20, 2024 People Powered capstone presentation, also virtual for statewide access.  The most effective presentation will be awarded a $5000 prize for their school to enhance the social studies curriculum and/or to apply toward learning resources and educational initiatives at the winning institution. 

The People Powered project is geared to engender civic action, community engagement, and to enhance American Representative Democracy in the curriculum and lives of young citizens throughout West Virginia, and most important to inspire experiential learning in the social studies curriculum in the public schools through the resources of the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education. 

Teachers who are interested in participating in the one-day work and People Powered project can submit their application directly online at the Byrd Center website at, by clicking the People Powered link under “Education.” Only thirty teachers will be selected for the project, so educators are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. For information, contact People Powered Program Manager, Dr. Sylvia Bailey Shurbutt at the Shepherd University Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities at Applications are made directly online through the Byrd Center website.

People Powered 2023 ProgramTraditional civics education has focused largely on the establishment, structures, and inner-workings of the federal government, specifically the duties and prerogatives of the executive,…