What is Civics for Life?

Many Americans lack a fundamental understanding of our democracy and how it functions, resulting in reduced civic engagement, low voter turnout, incivility, and polarized division.

We aim to address the knowledge gap of countless Americans who did not receive civics education during their school years.

  • An NBC News poll from October 2022 found that the most important issue for Americans ahead of the midterm election is “threats to democracy,” far more concerning to respondents than “cost of living” and “jobs & the economy.”
  • A 2022 Annenberg Center for Public Policy survey found that 1 in 4 Americans cannot name a single branch of the U.S. government.
  • According to a 2022 poll from Yahoo News and YouGov.com, 49% of Americans believe that the U.S. will cease to be a democracy in the future.

These are alarming trends that Justice O’Connor had worked so valiantly to counter. And we are continuing her efforts through our new O’Connor Institute online initiative, Civics for Life

Civics for Life is a multigenerational online resource for civics education, civil discourse and civic engagement.

We focus on providing civics resources for all ages across the country through:

  • Robust civics education materials and toolkits will bring guided, clear, and comprehensive information on an array of civics-related topics for all ages.
  • An ever-expanding library of online conversations and debates with policymakers, authors, and thought leaders will showcase the rich variety of ideas, questions, and concerns that are important to citizens.
  • Our online publication, Civics for Life Quarterly, will offer top-quality and compelling new writing on civics, with an emphasis on connecting civics to our daily lives.
  • Input Circle and Public Square online communities will demonstrate what civil and productive discourse and engagement looks like, also contributing to Civics for Life programming.
  • Middle schoolers can participate in Camp O’Connor USA, a free week-long summer camp providing civics education and leadership development. And they can participate in our yearly Civics Challenge — an online creative competition where participants can win Apple products.
  • High schoolers can join our O’Connor Institute Ambassadors Civics and Debate Clubs, an extracurricular leadership development program.
  • Lifelong learners can access our audio, video and written resources that advance civics education and civil discourse.
  • Topical “dueling op-ed” written contributions will elevate the best and most sophisticated arguments on both sides of a newsworthy civics-related issue.
  • And Civics for Life will not only disseminate civics knowledge—it also creates it. Through the production of original research in the field of civics, we will add to the important national conversation about civics and public policy.

Being well-informed in participating in your community and government is a simple and effective recipe for elevating your role as a citizen.

Civics for Life supports your drive to:

• Learn more about civics.

• Develop your understanding of civil discourse.

• Find your place in the community.

• Make a difference for you, your family, and others.

• Bring your passion.

And be your best citizen.