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UW Civics Education Fund Surpasses $1.5 Million

January 20, 2021
group of young people
Participants in the Wyoming We the People program pose for a photo in 2020. The program will benefit from a new gift from the John P. Ellbogen Foundation. (Matt Strannigan Photo)

The John P. Ellbogen Foundation has made an additional gift of $300,000 to support civics education at the University of Wyoming -- enhancing the John P. Ellbogen Civics Education Fund beyond $1.5 million.

To ensure the future of civics education programming for Wyoming students, $50,000 will be available immediately.

In an effort to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary for competent and responsible participation in the American political system, the John P. Ellbogen Foundation, the Wyoming We the People program and UW’s American Heritage Center have partnered to promote civics education across the state.

In 2015, the John P. Ellbogen Foundation gave a gift of $350,000. The gift was doubled by the state of Wyoming, creating the John P. Ellbogen Civics Education Fund.

Since its inception, the endowment has funded the program We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution, a nationally acclaimed civics education program that enhances students’ understanding of democracy while teaching contemporary relevance of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

“As citizens, we must know and understand our rights and vigilantly practice our responsibilities,” says Mary Garland, president of the John P. Ellbogen Foundation. “Now, more than ever, it is imperative that our youth learn from the primary documents that set out the guidance for our democracy. This is the focus of Wyoming We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution. The foundation takes our investment in this program as part of its responsibility to state and country.”

The John P. Ellbogen Civics Education Fund will provide the Wyoming We the People program with financial support to continue important statewide education for Wyoming students and offer impactful professional development for Wyoming’s teachers.

“The John P. Ellbogen Foundation has become a key partner and critical component to advance the cause of quality civics education in the state of Wyoming,” says Matt Strannigan, state director of the Wyoming We the People program. “On behalf of the great teachers of this state and the hundreds of students they serve, we are deeply grateful to the John P. Ellbogen Foundation for its financial support of civics education.”

The We the People program was created to commemorate the framing and adoption of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The program represents the joint effort of a nationwide network of educators and school leaders.

“One does not have to look very far to understand the challenges facing this nation and a deeply divided citizenry,” Strannigan says. “We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution is the most extensive education program in the country on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the principles they embody. Now, more than ever, our country desperately needs an informed citizenry that goes beyond the silos of partisan politics and develops a deeper understanding of the guiding principles of the republic.”

The John P. Ellbogen Civics Education Fund provides the Wyoming We the People program with the permanent funding needed to continue its pivotal work and help to develop the future leaders of Wyoming communities.

“The generosity and dedication of the Ellbogen Foundation as a partner in these bipartisan efforts are second to none,” Strannigan adds.

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