Press Releases

Loyola University Chicago Receives $3.5 Million to Lead Innovations in Civic Education

An aerial view of the Chicago skyline.

CHICAGO – January 25, 2024 

Loyola University Chicago has been awarded a five-year, approximately $3.5 million grant from the Department of Education supporting efforts to strengthen democratic participation among students in collaboration with schools, community organizations, museums and cultural institutions, elected officials, and university faculty and students.   

Chicago public middle and high school students in Rogers Park, Edgewater, and Uptown will have the opportunity to develop and strengthen their democratic skills through a new Loyola initiative, Practicing Democracy in Communities (PDC).  

With democratic institutions worldwide showing increasing fragility, and a United States national election in 2024, learning about the roles and responsibilities of democratic citizenship is more critical than ever.  

“Civic education has been ignored by many school systems over the past 30 or 40 years to our country’s detriment,” said Jon Schmidt, assistant professor, and partnership coordinator of the School of Education, who is leading this project. “Civic education helps to establish the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that all young people need to participate actively and boldly in our democracy,”  

Fortunately, the State of Illinois requires by law that all public school students experience at least one semester of civic education in middle and high school. PDC will work closely with these classrooms to extend school-based learning into the diverse communities of Rogers Park, Edgewater, Uptown, and the City of Chicago for learning, engagement, and action.   

By building on the current resources of our schools and communities, PDC will provide support that enables principals, teachers, teacher candidates, and community partners to teach the core skills of democratic citizenship. Students will encounter multiple civic learning opportunities that enable them to practice democracy in their communities and develop civic skills, knowledge, dispositions, habits, and identities that support lifelong democratic engagement.  This holistic, comprehensive approach to civic education aims to support the democratic education of our young people and demonstrate the power and importance of community participation.  

Markeda Newell, interim dean, is optimistic about the future of PDC. “The School of Education prides itself on its commitment to creating a better, more equitable society. With the help of this grant, we can continue our social justice work by engaging youth in democratic leadership throughout the Chicagoland area in an incredibly impactful way.” 


About Loyola University Chicago
Founded in 1870, Loyola University Chicago is one of the nation’s largest Jesuit, Catholic universities, with nearly 16,600 students. The University has four campuses: three in the greater Chicago area and one in Rome, Italy, as well as course locations in Vernon Hills, Illinois (Cuneo Mansion and Gardens), and a Retreat and Ecology Campus in Woodstock, Illinois. The University features 15 schools, colleges, and institutes. Ranked a leading national university by U.S. News & World Report, Loyola is also among a select group of universities recognized for community service and engagement by prestigious national organizations including AmeriCorps and the Carnegie Foundation. To learn more about Loyola, or follow us on Twitter via@LoyolaChicago.

About the School of Education
Established in 1969, the School of Education (SOE) endeavors to advance equity in education in service of social justice. Offering a wide range of degrees including undergraduate, master’s, doctoral, as well as certificate and endorsement programs, SOE prepares teachers, principals, superintendents, psychologists, counselors, methodologists, and higher education professionals to be extraordinary scholar-practitioners, researchers, and change-makers. These future leaders are equipped to dismantle social inequalities in their local and global communities to create more equitable systems. Students receive second-to-none learning opportunities: integrated curriculum linking theory, research, and rigorous field-based experiences; community-driven service and advocacy opportunities; international study at Loyola’s John Felice Rome Center; and participation in a robust professional learning community that supports students and faculty. To learn more about SOE, visit or follow us on Twitter via @LoyolaSOE.