Ron DeSantis Announces $6.5 Million to Three Colleges to Launch Civics Academies

This week, Gov. Ron DeSantis awarded Polk State College, Broward College, and Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) with $6.5 million to launch the Career Pathways for Public Service Initiative, which will develop a national model for preparing students for public service and careers in local or state government.

The Civics Academies will allow students to start preparing in 9th grade for meaningful careers while learning about the importance of public trust, government efficiency, and the values of our state and nation. This announcement is part of DeSantis’ larger Civic Literacy Excellence Initiative to develop civics curriculum and support the implementation of Florida’s revised civics and government standards in K-12 public schools.

“It was great to award $6.5 million to create civics academies through three of our nation-leading state colleges,” said DeSantis. “This first-of-its-kind program will teach our future leaders foundational American values as they prepare for careers in public service.”

“A strong civics education is a necessity for those entering civil service,” said Education Commissioner Manny Diaz. “By providing a pathway for students to pursue careers in the public sector, Florida is ensuring a smarter, more efficient state and local government for years to come.”

“FSCJ is honored to be selected for this grant, in partnership with Polk State College and Broward College, and is dedicated to collaborating on the development of a critical curriculum focused on producing a civically engaged, highly skilled workforce,” said John Avendano, the president of FSCJ. “Through collaboration with the Florida Department of Education, Florida College System, the Lou Frey Institute, our school districts, and our local municipalities and businesses, our institutions will lead the way for quality workforce civic education in the State of Florida and beyond.”

“Our Florida College System institutions are honored to partner with the Florida Department of Education, the Lou Frey Institute, our school districts, and our local municipalities and government entities to foster quality civic literacy opportunities, thereby enhancing the lives of Florida’s students,” said Gregory Adam Haile, the president of Broward College. “Enhancing civic literacy and related workforce training will not only benefit our students, but will also ultimately benefit Florida’s future.”

“This initiative will establish a higher education pathway for students interested in public service, using the Florida College System model of programs partnering with high schools to prepare students for in-demand jobs and rewarding careers,” said Angela Falconetti, the president of Polk State College. “At a time when civic literacy and engagement are so highly valued, we are excited to partner with our local school districts and other institutions to support the development of our public service workforce and provide opportunities for students interested in these careers.”

Polk State College, Broward College, and Florida State College at Jacksonville will work in partnership with the Lou Frey Institute, which will serve as the lead curriculum developer for new statewide “Civics Career Academies.” The grant will support the development and implementation of no less than three regional civic pathway partnerships to be managed by Polk State, Broward College, and Florida State College at Jacksonville. The three colleges will partner with their school districts to implement the civics career academies in their communities, anticipating over 1,000 students enrolled in the 2023-2024 academic year.

The civics career academies will launch in August, 2023. Courses will include public service leadership, careers and communication, experiential learning, pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship opportunities with local and state agencies, and a research seminar.

“The Career Pathways for Public Service Initiative aligns with the Lou Frey Institute’s development of a civic assessment currently being administered by institutions across Florida,” said Lou Frey Institute Director Stephen Masyada. “We are excited to expand that work by creating a secondary civic curriculum and accompanied teacher training which will ensure students graduate high school with the knowledge and skills to succeed in both the public sector and in advanced public service career preparation. The value of lifelong civic learning, connecting civic education and engagement to professional development and careers, is critical for advancing civil society.”

Additionally, the partnership with local school districts will include summer 2023 programming at the three colleges to prepare students for industry certification exams in areas such as Project Management (PMP) and SCRUM, Advanced Microsoft Office, Adobe, and a variety of other industry certifications relevant to a career in public administration. The colleges will also work with local municipalities to offer paid internships and pre-apprenticeships for students to gain real-world experience before graduating from high school to prepare them for careers in local and state government.

DeSantis announced the Civic Literacy Excellence Initiative in July 2021. Of the $106 million to establish the initiative, $6.5 million was allocated for the civics career academy program to develop partnerships between secondary schools and government institutions, and to allow students to explore government and public administration as a way to inspire the next generation of leaders in Florida.

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