Georgia Civic Awareness Program for Students
GCAPS was developed by ACCG staff and county officials under the auspices of the Civic Affairs Foundation to address the need for increased civic involvement and awareness among Georgia’s youth. Click here to visit the Georgia Civic Awareness Program Website.
The objectives and goals of the program are simple: educate young citizens about the importance of being actively conscious of their local government environment and the opportunities available in the public sector. The program is designed to provide students with the opportunity to learn first-hand the roles and services that local governments fulfill and offer to all citizens in Georgia.
By participating in activities, such as attending a Board of Commissioners’ meeting, talking with county professional staff, visiting administrative departments, etc., students gain the knowledge they need to create a foundation on which they can draw to educate their peers. In addition to training and learning activities, students have the opportunity to create and implement civic awareness projects throughout the year. Youth are able to serve as leaders and liaisons within their communities, while becoming engaged and informed citizens.
Three counties – Bibb, Oconee, Rockdale, and Effingham– are currently offering GCAPS programs. Youth ranging in age from 15 to 18 are engaged in government-related activities in each of the counties.
To date across the various counties that have sponsored the program, over 200 students have "graduated" from GCAPS. Evaluations show that 100% of the students agreed that their experience was rewarding and that they had a clear understanding of the role local and state government play.
In addition to previous philanthropic support received, in 2011 the ACCG Civic Affairs Foundation was awarded a $15,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation in order to expand GCAPS to additional Georgia counties.
See how the GCAPS program in Macon-Bibb County is helping create the next generation of civic leaders by visiting MaconBibbTV and searching for “GCAPS 2014.”
Each of Georgia’s 159 counties is unique, which is why GCAPS offers a flexible approach that can be easily modified to accommodate the demographic, geographic, socioeconomic status and financial diversity of each county offering the program.
GCAPS starts by identifying a respected county leader who volunteers to serve as the Program Manager. This individual accepts “ownership” of the project and is responsible for all components necessary for its success, including the recruitment of reliable and dedicated volunteers to serve on Advisory and Selection Committees. The Program Manager works to meet all the needs of the student delegates and to make GCAPS a successful initiative in the county.
Volunteer adult advisors aid the Project Manager in organizing and guiding the delegates. The Advisory Committee is composed of members of the community who have a shared interest in youth, education and civic involvement.
The Program Manager and the Advisory Committee assemble a selection committee. This committee is responsible for taking applications and selecting students to serve as delegates. Committee members are knowledgeable about the program, the needs of the community in terms of civic education, and the capabilities of the students who apply.
Interested high school students who either live in the county or go to school in the county are asked to submit an application that includes essay questions. Homeschooled students are also encouraged to participate and have in the past.
Once the selection committee has chosen the GCAPS participants, the students spend a year in the program receiving pertinent leadership training and learning first-hand about their local government.
An emphasis is placed on three training components. The first component is a lesson on the GCAPS mission, a history of the program and its goals. The next component of the program is a combination of leadership training and teambuilding. The final component is civic education; this is the component on which students spend the most time and which is most critical to accomplishing the goals of GCAPS.
The delegates meet on a regular basis and participate in hands-on activities that expose them to different aspects of government. Students also are encouraged to implement civic education projects in their community.
After completing a year in the program, GCAPS participants complete a program survey and are recognized in an informal "graduation" ceremony.
Sponsorship of the Program