(CLOSED) Education for American Civic Life

Sponsor Name: 
Teagle Foundation
Description of the Award: 

The Education for American Civic Life initiative supports efforts to prepare students to become informed and engaged participants in the civic life of their local and national communities. Grants of varying amounts, ranging from $100,000-$300,000 over a 24-36 month period, will be made to each funded project participating in this initiative. The size of the grant will be based on the scope of the project. We expect this grant program will remain open for approximately three to five years.

The mission of the Teagle Foundation is “to support and strengthen liberal arts education, which we see as fundamental to meaningful work, effective citizenship, and a fulfilling life.” Civic education entails an understanding of American history and the ways our society has met or failed to meet the standard of its own democratic principles. When viewed expansively, this knowledge can guide students to recognize how communities are formed and continually reformed, and can lead students to consider their responsibilities beyond themselves. Civic knowledge lays the groundwork for members of a shared community to appreciate and grapple with their differences, and to build a mutually respectful collective civil life.

Colleges and universities often assume that their incoming students have received prior preparation on fundamental topics such as the formation of the American republic or the drafting of the U.S. Constitution, contention over its meaning, and its amendment over time. On this assumption, they miss critical opportunities to help undergraduates develop a mature understanding of the history and fragility of democracy. We encourage institutions to embed these themes across their curriculum and to invite deeper academic inquiry on critical issues that vex our local and national communities.

Through Education for American Civic Life, the Foundation seeks to elevate the civic objectives of liberal arts education by partnering with institutions offering bold and coherent initiatives that endow students with the content, skills, and sensibility to participate in a political system designed for self-governance. While progress has been made at many institutions of higher education to promote civic action and various forms of community service as part of the undergraduate experience, the Foundation is especially concerned with grounding such action and service in comprehensive civic knowledge through teaching, reading, debate, and discussion centered in the curriculum.

Through this initiative, the Foundation seeks ambitious projects that confront gaps in undergraduates’ civic knowledge and prepare them for the intellectual demands of democratic participation. Successful proposals will seek to promote learning about the formation of the American republic, the crafting of its Constitution, the history of contention over the interpretation of the Constitution, the development of representative political structures, and the principles of democracy. Civic education is strongest when it is not treated as a theoretical or abstract subject but when it becomes part of the lived experience of students and links their work across disciplines. For this reason, the majority of our grants go to institutions that give students an opportunity to connect big questions in areas like governance, history, and law, to the local history and current conditions of the community outside the campus gates.

The Education for American Civic Life Initiative is focused on funding in two particular areas: (1) anchoring significant questions in democratic thought in local history and community and (2) strengthening preparation for public service.


  • Invest in Faculty Leadership and Learning
    The Foundation believes in faculty leadership. All grants should name the faculty members that will lead the planning and implementation process. As colleges and universities work to deepen civic education, they come to recognize that faculty, who are often educated in a single specialized discipline, are likely to need their own learning opportunities to ensure that they become better equipped to teach the variety of texts presented and discussed in a strong civic curriculum. The Foundation is therefore invested in building learning opportunities for faculty focused on the knowledge and skills they need to give undergraduates a comprehensive civic education.

  • Focus on Undergraduate Education
    All Teagle grantees are able to explain how their work reaches undergraduate students in the classroom. Successful proposals will seek to promote learning about the formation of the American republic, the crafting of its Constitution, the history of contention over the interpretation of the Constitution, the development of representative political structures, and the principles of democracy. We give priority to proposals designed to reach a significant proportion, if not all, of the undergraduate student body and that infuse civic education in and across the curriculum.

  • Sustainability
    Successful applicants will clearly articulate how proposed programs are aligned with institutional priorities; how they will be enacted, as appropriate, through institutional governance structures; and how they will be sustained beyond the life of the grant. Projects are expected to move beyond additions to course catalogs and reflect content integration to support civic learning outcomes. Grants from the Teagle Foundation are made in the expectation that once the formal grant period ends, should the piloted efforts be successful, the costs associated with supporting the work will be absorbed by the participating institution(s).

  • Assessment
    Proposals must provide clearly articulated goals for undergraduate civic learning and how they will be measured. The Teagle Foundation may wish to collaborate with grantees in an external evaluation to assess the short- and longer-term outcomes of funded projects, including follow-up studies three to five years after the conclusion of the funded projects.

  • Dissemination
    Active dissemination efforts will be important to spread the knowledge and practices developed by grantees to higher education stakeholders. Dissemination might take the form of publicly available instructional materials; action-oriented toolkits or other publications; webinars; websites and blogs; and conference presentations and workshops.

Limit (Number of applicants permitted per institution): 
Sponsor Final Deadline: 
Dec 01, 2022
OSVPR Application or NOI Instructions: 

Interested applicants should upload the following documents in sequence in one PDF file (File name: Last name_Teagle_2022) no later than 4:00 p.m. on the internal submission deadline:

1. Cover Letter (1 page, pdf):

  • Descriptive title of proposed activity
  • PI name, departmental affiliations(s) and contact information
  • Co-PI's names and departmental affiliation(s)
  • Names of other key personnel
  • Participating institution(s)

2. Concept Paper (3-5 pages, pdf)

  • Names all the campus partners and sketches the project description, with an eye towards meeting the criteria discussed above. The guiding question to keep in mind while developing your concept paper (and if invited, your proposal) is: in what ways will your curricula be substantively different as a result of a grant? And how will those curricular innovations be sustained beyond the life of a grant?

Formatting Guidelines:

Font/size: Times New Roman (12 pt.)
Document margins: 1.0” (top, bottom, left and right)
Standard paper size (8 ½” x 11)

To be considered as a Penn State institutional nominee, please submit a notice of intent by the date provided directly below.
This limited submission is in downselect: 
Penn State may only submit a specific number of proposals to this funding opportunity. The number of NOIs received require that an internal competition take place, thus, a downselect process has commenced. No Penn State researchers may apply to this opportunity outside of this downselect process. To apply for this limited submission, please use this link:
OSVPR Downselect Deadline: 
Tuesday, November 8, 2022 - 4:00pm
For help or questions: 

Please plan to connect with staff from the Office of Foundation Relations, who will consult on proposal narrative elements, answer foundation-related questions, and assist the downselect winner with their submission. Applicants please contact Kate Totino, Associate Director, Foundation Relations (kxf188@psu.edu).

Matt Johnson (Comm)