San Mateo, CA – The Simmons Foundation has granted the Junior State of America an award of $15,000 to strengthen its core programs in Texas and improve the number, size, and presence of its high school chapters. Junior State of America strengthens civic participation by engaging high school students in full year and unique residential summer school programs. The grant amount is an increase from the previous year.
Steve Bayne, Program Director for Texas, has been key in implementing the Simmons Foundation’s first grant. Said Bayne, “Because of their grant last year, we were able to bring 50 more students to our spring event and build five new chapters in the Texas region.”
Junior State of America was founded in 1934 and is the largest student-run nonprofit organization in the United States. Their programs empower students for life-long leadership in a democratic society, cultivate skills that prepare them for college, and support healthy political dialogue among opposing views. In addition to their yearlong programs, Junior State of America sends high school students from across the United States and overseas territories to overnight conferences with influential speakers in politics and public policy.
“The grant will bring a greater number of youth into the JSA civic education programs, especially from under-resourced schools in Houston that would especially benefit from these programs,” said Bayne. “I hope that this continued relationship with the Simmons Foundation can further expand our programs to other areas we couldn’t reach before.“
By teaching them the essentials of democratic self-governance, students hold debates, elect youth leadership, plan service projects and learn to fundraise to sustain their chapters. A study by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) in 2013 found that JSA students were more likely to report improvement in their civic knowledge and confidence the longer they were involved with the organization. Impact was especially profound in female students and students of color.