Educating and engaging K-12 students to lead

Students need to understand how their governments and communities work, and how and why they can aspire to make a difference. Current events, education trends, and learning opportunity gaps make that task more difficult - and more important than ever.

They - and you - should care. Today's students will become the leaders of our schools, communities, businesses, and nation.  What and how they learn NOW matters.

From a child’s first vote to a youth’s first community leadership role and beyond, GenerationNation educates and engages a new generation of citizens and leaders.

Through GenerationNation, students become literate, engaged citizens and leaders

  • Grow as confident citizens and leaders who can read and analyze information, think critically, communicate, collaborate, solve problems, and make decisions.
  • Build civic literacy, know how their governments and communities work, understand the key issuess and different perspectives - and develop the civic leadership skills and know-how to make a difference
  • Gain essential knowledge for academic success - including graduation requirements Civics & Economics and American History  - while linking disciplines including STEM, reading, and the arts.

Program of work

GenerationNation reaches thousands of students annually through smart, fun programs that connect classroom learning with hands-on experiences to build civic literacy and leadership from an early age and narrow learning opportunity gaps.

GenerationNation's learning opportunities include educational sessions, dialogues, service-learning, field trips, and other hands-on experiences. Students regularly interact with public officials and civic leaders, engage in local government, learn about and apply knowledge to solve community issues, and meet and collaborate with youth from other schools and backgrounds.

Through GenerationNation, Charlotte’s students learn how the community works, understand key issues and different perspectives, know how to analyze and use news and information, develop and apply habits for active citizenship including informed voting in every election, and serve the community in volunteer and leadership roles.
Children explore local government, current events, community history, and the ways that citizens can make a difference. They practice reading and analyzing information and how to use it make decisions - including which candidates to support as they take their first votes in GenerationNation’s annual mock election.

When students reach high school, they continue to learn, think, decide, and take action throughout the year. Youth explore Charlotte-Mecklenburg government, history, issues, and community leadership; experience elections and democracy through service-learning and voting; begin to build civic leadership and awareness through Youth Lead Charlotte-Mecklenburg; and, serve as community leaders on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Youth Council.


Nearly 1 million Charlotte-Mecklenburg students have built and applied civic knowledge and skills through GenerationNation programs. Launched in 1992 as a mock election event called Kids Voting, over the past 5 years Charlotte nonprofit GenerationNation has worked with community partners to begin to expand programming and deepen student civic impact 365 days a year. The first phase of GenerationNation's expanded work has targeted high school students.

Future strategies will expand opportunities for K-8 students, program alumni, and teachers in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, and expand programming in other cities.


GenerationNation directly engages students in hands-on experiences to narrow learning opportunity gaps and build civic literacy and leadership knowledge, interests, and skills.

  • 50,000 students participated in 2015-16 activities
  • In 2015-16, GenerationNation offered students 15,000 contact hours of civic education, leadership, and service-learning
  • 100% of students learned about and directly engaged in local government and community issues

Learning opportunities enable students to interact with and discuss issues with community leaders, learn about and apply knowledge to solve community issues, and meet and collaborate with youth from other schools and backgrounds, while building skills and knowledge for college, career, and civic life. Students increase knowledge and interests about government, civic issues, public policy, news/current events, voting, and volunteering, and skills and behaviors such as leadership, decision-making, collaboration, analysis, communications, public speaking, confidence, and more.

In the classroom, GenerationNation helps K-12 teachers to easily and effectively integrate civic literacy across the curriculum.

  • 170+ public and nonpublic schools in Charlotte-Mecklenburg plus additional schools and districts outside of Charlotte
  • 100+ lessons and tools for civic/news literacy and other 21st century skills
  • Essential knowledge for academic success including graduation requirements Civics & Economics and American History.
  • Aligned to core subjects,  grade level, and state/national standards
  • Teachers benefit from increased resources, leadership and professional development opportunities, and peer learning networks
  • Users of the Learning Center teach in Charlotte - and across NC and the US

Compared with peers, GenerationNation participants are more likely to demonstrate civic leadership, civic engagement, and civic/news literacy as they move into college, career, and civic life. Compared with data from CIRCLE, Pew Research, and NC Civic Index.

How can you and your organization help a new generation of active citizens and leaders?

We’re educating students and building leaders – and there’s still work to be done. Mentor a student. Connect your school or organization. Join a youth program. Volunteer. Contribute.

Get involved today

Contact us to find out how you can bring GenerationNation to your school or community


GenerationNation develops a new generation of civic leaders.




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Site by Jessica Norman
PO Box 31365
Charlotte, NC 28231
CMS Courier #835-450A