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Grants and Other Financial Assistance Programs

FY2020: Civics Teaching and Learning Grant

Fund Code: 589


The purpose of this competitive grant program is to support civics teaching and learning, including but not limited to implementation of student-led, non-partisan civics projects. As stated in Chapter 296 of the Acts of 2018, "In all public schools, history of the United States of America and social science, including civics, shall be taught as required subjects to promote civic service and a greater knowledge thereof and to prepare students, morally and intellectually, for the duties of citizenship." This grant supports Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to meet this charge.


The 2018 Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for History and Social Science Download PDF Document presents "A Renewed Mission: Education for Civic Life in a Democracy." According to the Framework, "The primary purpose of a history and social science education is to prepare students to have the knowledge and skills to become thoughtful and active participants in a democratic society and a complex world" (page 13). As such, the learning standards in the Framework include civic skills, knowledge, and dispositions for students at all grades. This grant supports LEAs to implement the Framework by strengthening civics teaching and learning. In addition, this grant supports implementation of grade 8 and high school civics projects as outlined in Chapter 296 of the Acts of 2018.

The law includes the following provisions related to student-led civics projects:

(c) Each public school serving students in the eighth grade and each public high school shall provide not less than 1 student-led, non-partisan civics project for each student; provided, however, that each such project shall be consistent with the history and social science curriculum frameworks adopted by the board pursuant to section 1E of chapter 69 and with structured learning time requirements as required under regulations promulgated by the board of elementary and secondary education. Civics projects may be individual, small group or class wide, and designed to promote a student's ability to: (i) analyze complex issues; (ii) consider differing points of view; (iii) reason, make logical arguments and support claims using valid evidence; (iv) engage in civil discourse with those who hold opposing positions; and (v) demonstrate an understanding of the connections between federal, state and local policies, including issues that may impact the student's school or community. Any student choosing not to participate in a particular group or class-wide project shall be offered the opportunity to develop an individual civics project, with approval by the principal.

Applicants should propose projects within one or more of the following categories.

  1. High-quality professional development for teachers focused on instruction of civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions
    • Note: Up to 30% of the award may be used for the purchase of instructional materials or resources
  2. Implementation of civics projects, as required by Chapter 296 of the Acts of 2018
  3. Civics learning experiences for students (e.g. field trips, special programs, extracurricular activities).

Applicants will be given competitive priority in scoring for each of the following eligibilities:

  • LEAs with schools identified as requiring assistance according to the state accountability system
  • Greater than 40% of student population is designated as economically disadvantaged

Cross-LEA partnerships will be given competitive priority. If multiple LEAs intend to work together in a partnership with grant funds, one LEA should apply as the fiscal agent for the group.

Equity. Civics is not an "extra," and as such, all students should have access to high-quality civics learning experiences. Proposals will be prioritized for deepening civic learning opportunities for all students; providing professional development for teachers who serve all students; and/or providing civics learning opportunities to all students where previously these opportunities were not available. Proposals that benefit all students, rather than a subset of students, will be preferred.

Deeper learning. Proposals that will promote student engagement in active, meaningful learning of civics skills, knowledge, and dispositions, which are thoughtfully standards-aligned and part of a larger plan for student civic learning, will be preferred over "one-off" experiences for students.

Evaluation. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will be evaluating grant impact. Grant recipients will be required to share a description of the outcomes of the grant and products as requested; recipients may also be required to provide an external evaluator access to observe or attend grant activities.

Budget accuracy. DESE is interested in funding as many valuable projects as possible. Thus, accurate budgets that request a reasonable amount of funding for the desired purposes or programs will be prioritized. Applying LEAs should research the specific costs of the program or project they wish to fund and apply only for the necessary amount.


All Massachusetts Local Education Agencies (districts, charter schools, and Collaboratives) are eligible to apply.

Funding Type:



Approximately $750,000 is available through trust funds.

Maximum award is determined by the total student enrollment of the applying LEA (or group of LEAs applying as a partnership).

  • Size Tier 1: LEAs or cross-LEA partnerships enrolling up to 1,000 students (total)
    May apply for up to $15,000

  • Size Tier 2: LEAs or cross-LEA partnerships enrolling 1,001-6,000 students (total)
    May apply for up to $30,000

  • Size Tier 3: LEAs or cross-LEA partnerships enrolling 6,001 or more students (total)
    May apply for up to $45,000

Funding is contingent upon availability. All dollar amounts listed are estimated/approximate and are subject to change. If more funding becomes available it will be distributed under the same guidelines that appear in this RFP document.

Fund Use:

Fund use must be consistent with the Priorities described above, and may include, but is not limited to:

  • Stipends for teachers
  • Contracting with external partners, including non-profit organizations, institutions of higher education, and professional development providers
  • Student transportation and/or cost associated with special events or experiential learning opportunities

Funding restrictions:

  • No funds may be dedicated toward administrator salaries
  • No funds may be used to purchase technology (e.g., Smart Boards, iPads)
  • No greater than 5% of funds may be dedicated toward administrative costs associated with the grant
  • No more than 30% of award may be used for the purchase of instructional materials or resources

Project Duration:

Upon Award through 6/30/2020*

*The trust funded awardees (FC: 589) will have the option to extend their fund use in FY2021 (July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021). In order to take advantage of this extension, awardees will have to complete the Multi-Year form in EdGrants in May of 2020. Once selected, grant recipients will be contacted with further information on the multi-year option.

Program Unit:

Center for Instructional Support

Michelle Ryan
Phone Number:

(781) 338-3251

Date Due:

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Required Forms:
Download Word Document
Part I — General — Program Unit Signature Page — (Standard Contract Form and Application for Program Grants)
Download Excel Document
Part II — Budget
Download Word Document
Part III — Required Program Information

Submission Instructions:

Complete and submit all grant forms and materials:

Email one (1) complete set of all required documents (Part I, Part II, Part III, and any additional related information) to: no later than 5:00 p.m. on the date due.

Upon award, recipients will be required to enter the approved budget in EdGrants and upload required documents. Once selected, grant recipients will be contacted with further instructions on the process.

Last Updated: November 18, 2019

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
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