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Thunderbirds Charities Awards O’Connor Institute for American Democracy a Generous Grant for Youth Civics Education

Thunderbirds Charities has awarded $50,000 to the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute for American Democracy in support of civics education for youth. The gift benefits three of the Institute’s programs: the Camp O’Connor summer civics program in Phoenix, O’Connor Civics Challenge online civics video competition for middle school students, and O’Connor Ambassadors Civics & Debate Club extracurricular civics program for high school students.

Camp O’Connor is a free, merit-based, week-long summer program providing experiential civics education and leadership development for 7th and 8th graders. The camp works to educate, inspire, and encourage the next generation of leaders to develop a deeper understanding of and appreciation for our democracy and their important role as citizens. Campers develop leadership skills and greater knowledge of our nation’s democracy, and they experience civics in action, enhanced by field trips to witness the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government.

The O’Connor Civics Challenge was created to allow students to participate in an online civics video competition during the pandemic. Geared to 6th through 8th graders, the program yielded participation from students across Arizona. Participants competed for laptops and other electronic educational tools. As a result of the response, the Institute has continued the O’Connor Civics Challenge among its regular program offerings.

The O’Connor Ambassadors Civics & Debate Club—a free, extracurricular program for high school students—promotes civil discourse, civics education, and civic engagement. This school-approved, extracurricular club develops civil debate skillsets, increases civics knowledge, and creates civic engagement opportunity through a service project selected by the students. Led by the student body under the guidance of a faculty advisor, O’Connor Ambassadors set examples and encourage their peers to become active participants in our democracy “The Thunderbirds’ significant commitment to civics education for youth is apparent through their generous grant,” said Benjamin Maynard, director of Civics Education for the Institute. “Support from Thunderbirds Charities demonstrates their emphasis on and investment in preparing the next generation for leadership.”

Sandra Day O’Connor Institute for American Democracy

This grant is part of the Spring 2022 cycle. View a list of all Recent Grantees.