Resource library

Strengthening American Democracy Guide: Version 3

This is a guide designed to help faculty, staff, students, and other campus stakeholders write strong action plans to increase nonpartisan civic learning, political engagement, and voter
participation on college and university campuses. It provides a framework for developing and documenting institutional goals and strategies for fostering a civic ethos on campus and institutionalizing elements of democratic engagement into the curriculum and co-curriculum that persist regardless of election cycles. This guide is not meant to be prescriptive and should be adapted to your institutional context.

Completing the action planning process can help an institution assess current efforts, set short-term and long-term goals, plan and implement strategies and tactics, assess progress towards goals, and continuously work to improve democratic engagement efforts. This work can and should be collaborative and occur in a team setting. Depending on the campus, this may be accomplished in a committee, coalition, task force, or working group. The hope is that through this process, the institution will be able to garner additional support and resources, change culture, improve systems and policies, build lasting capacity, and ultimately institutionalize efforts. This third edition of the guide includes the self-assessment rubric originally released with the second edition of the guide.

The third edition focuses more on how to strategically prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion in an institution’s action plan. It also highlights efforts regarding voter mobilization and the Ask Every Student program. It is strongly suggested that completed action plans be shared on the institution’s website, along with campus National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) reports. Together, these demonstrate an institution’s belief in transparency and its commitment to broadening and deepening civic learning, political engagement, and student voter participation.

How would a campus best use this resource?
Use this guide to help voting coalition members write strong nonpartisan action plans to increase civic learning and democratic engagement on campus. Note: This guide is not meant to be prescriptive and should be adapted to your institutional context
Learning outcomes
-Coalition partners on college campuses will be able to assess their current efforts, set goals, plan and implement activities, assess their progress toward goals, and continuously work to improve civic learning and democratic engagement efforts at their institution. -Coalition partners will be better equipped to garner additional support and resources, change their campus culture, improve systems and policies, build lasting capacity, and ultimately institutionalize efforts to increase democratic engagement.