American History and Civics Academies


The Center for Civic Education is implementing a multi-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education for Presidential Academies for teachers and Congressional Academies for high-need high school students. The grant began with a highly successful two-week summer institute at Goucher College, Baltimore in July 2019.

This academy is a grand slam from the students' perspective and the teachers' perspective! The dynamic taking place between the teachers and between the students and all the combinations thereof has made for and continues to make for the most powerful, engaging and valuable seminar that I have been to in my thirty-year career.

—Presidential Academy participant

Institute evaluation results from the Civic Education Research Lab at Georgetown University demonstrated that students' knowledge of history and civics improved, especially for Title I school students. Participation in the summer institute significantly enhanced students' civic dispositions related to political interest and attention, political discussion, community engagement, government service, civic duty, and trust in government. These results were presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association. Because of the excellence of the results, the Department of Education has approved a second year of grant funding for similar Academies. Please see below for more information about the program.

For the safety and well-being of all participants, the Center is postponing the second round of Academies due to concerns related to the coronavirus. The next Academies will take place in the summer of 2021. Applications collected in 2020 will remain under consideration. 

If you are not a potential applicant, please help us raise matching funds to support this valuable and dynamic experience for high-need students and their teachers! 

Program Information

Presidential and Congressional Academies

What are the Presidential and Congressional Academies?

The Presidential Academy for secondary school teachers and the Congressional Academy for high-need students provide high-quality educational engagement in American history and civics. Fifty-one teachers and 102 students from throughout the country participate each year in the Academies with all expenses covered. 

The Academies begin with a two-week institute in conjunction with exemplary scholars and mentor teachers. As can be seen in the 2019 Presidential Academy agenda and the 2019 Congressional Academy agenda, participants are immersed in the study of constitutional history and principles following the intellectual framework of the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution curriculum. Although they take place on the same campus, each Academy has a distinct agenda and meeting spaces. Academies participants have the opportunity to collaborate with their peers and participate in highly interactive discussions and activities, including a simulated congressional hearing. Learning is enhanced with field trips to National Park Service and other relevant sites such as Gettysburg, Fort McHenry, the U.S. Capitol, the Supreme Court, Smithsonian museums, and Mount Vernon.

Presidential Academy 2019
Engagement among teachers and students continues during the academic year following the initial institute. The Center hosts online discussion forums for teachers and for students to continue peer conversation as they engage in history and civics activities at their schools. Four webinars are offered during the year to extend the teachers' professional development and benefit students and the general public.

Who Can Participate?

This opportunity is for high school American history or civics teachers and high-need high school students, preferably going into eleventh or twelfth grade in the academic year following the summer institute. In order to enhance collaboration and planning of joint civic engagement activities in the ensuing academic year, we ask that teachers and students from the same school or district apply in teams of one teacher and two students. 

In order to meet grant priorities, preference is given to teachers who work with high-need students and student applicants who are high-need. Teachers are selected from secondary schools that offer strong administrative support for work with high-need students.

When is the Next Institute?

The summer institute planned for July 11-25, 2020 at Goucher College is postponed until the summer of 2021. We are continuing to work with Goucher College to plan the next institute, and we will post the new dates on this website as soon as they are determined

Congressional Academy 2019

What Will Participants Gain?

- Learning with exemplary history and political science scholars and mentor teachers

- Engagement in research, public speaking, and a congressional hearing simulation

- Interaction with peers from across the country

- Four field trips to national historical sites, such as Gettysburg, Fort McHenry, and sites in Washington, D.C.

- Free transportation, room, and board, and a modest stipend to cover incidental travel costs 

What are the Expectations of Participation?

Presidential Academy teachers engage with a rich community of teacher-scholars from throughout the United States. Teachers participate in the two-week summer institute in Baltimore at the same time as two Congressional Academy students from their school or district. During the school year, teachers engage in online outreach and follow-up activities with scholars that can benefit their school communities. Teachers participate in an online discussion forum and four online webinars. They engage with other teachers and students at their school to organize history and civics activities. An academic year “project” (deliverable) may include—but is not limited to—conducting a simulated hearing in the classroom, adapting lessons and activities from the summer institute for your classroom, and providing aid to students who participated in the summer institute in their presentations to school and/or parent leaders.

Congressional Academy student-scholars participate in the two-week summer institute in Baltimore, including joining the teachers on trips to National Park Service sites. They also engage in follow-up activities during the school year, aided by a student online discussion forum. Students work with other students and teachers at their school to organize or participate in a history or civics activity. This can include—but is not limited to—participating in the We the People program or National History Day, preparing a PowerPoint presentation to share with the class on the most interesting aspect of the Academy, preparing a presentation to share with the administration of the school and others at a school board meeting or a Parent Teacher Association meeting, and helping their teacher prepare their classmates to take part in a congressional hearing

What Costs Are Covered?

The Academies are free for participants! The costs for the Academy are covered by the grant, in addition to generous donations received from throughout the country.

Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information about the Congressional Academy.

Application Information

Thank you to everyone who has applied for the Academies! As previously noted, we are postponing the 2020 summer institute until the summer of 2021. We will announce the 2021 institute dates and the next open application period as soon as these dates are available.  


For additional information about the American History & Civics Academies, please contact Maria Gallo at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Alissa Irion-Groth at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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