logoCivic Participation and Community Action Sourcebook

A Resource for Adult Educators

Published by the
New England Literacy
Resource Center

Edited by
Andy Nas

See the book and selected activities below or you can order a copy of the entire book.


Table of Contents



Section 1: Finding Connections to Communities and Issues

Section Introduction

Lessons Learned: Realities of a Community Project
by Amy R. Trawick
Reflections on how one class settled on reachable goals

PREP: Get on the Bus
Goal-Setting with the EFF Citizen/Community Member Role Map
Choosing an Issue to Work On

Finding the Moment
by Michael Blackwell and Anita Armbrister
Two GED teachers struggle to find issues that motivate students to connect learning to community

PREP: Community Mapping Activities
Mapping a Healthy Community First

First Lay the Groundwork
by Margaret Anderson
A teacher describes the many twists and turns her class took as they tried to find a project

PREP: Paper Quilt Connections
Ways in to Thinking about Our Connections to Community
Building Community Visions
Talking about Power

Section 2: Holding Decision-Makers Accountable

Section Introduction

Vermont Students Win Resources and Action
by Carolyn Bronz and Lou Dorwaldt
A welfare to work class challenges officials to take obstacles out of their way

PREP: Researching History and Current Issues
Talking to Legislators

Pushed Too Far: Poor Women Defend Their Food Stamps
by Beth Bingman, based on the writings of Sharon Kimberlin

GED students take action when their food stamps are held up

PREP: Finding Resources: Who Can Help You?
PREP: Finding Resources: Where to Get Help in Your Town
PREP: Finding Resources: Public Services
PREP: Making a Phone Call

Immigrant Students Advocate for Adult Education
by Jonathan Leaning

A citizenship class learns civics by advocating for adult education funding

PREP: Comparing Political Cultures
PREP: Civic Rights and Responsibilities
PREP: History of Voting
PREP: Who Votes?
PREP: Mathematics Using Election Results

Walking Students Through a Legislative Process
by Paul Morse
A GED teacher uses the issue of gun control to teach students about government

PREP: Comparing Myths and Facts

“Campaigning Should Always Be Like This”
by Wendy Quiñones
Careful preparation helps students get the most from a legislator’s visit

PREP: Learning About Candidates
PREP: Interviewing Tips

The “Clinic”: A Community Organizes in Philadelphia
by the Mayor’s Commission on Literacy

Philadelphia students meet with local police to challenge their approach to controlling drug traffic

PREP: Strategies for Influencing Others
PREP: Participating in Public Forums

Dialogue Day: Teens Have Their Say
by Stephanie Menard
Not included in a school-sponsored dialogue, a group of “early leavers” make their ideas known

PREP: From Grievances to Proposals

Section 3: Building Community by Helping Others

Section Introduction

Helping Neighbors in a Crisis
by Silja Kallenbach, based on the writings of Maggie Moreno
An ESOL class uses their culture of community to help a family recover from crisis

PREP: Making an Action Plan
PREP: Budgeting Resources

Prejudice in a Small Town
by Douglas Griffith
In the face of cruel prejudice, a resident decides to speak up

PREP: Who Are You?
PREP: Personal Cultural History
PREP: Counteracting Stereotypes
PREP: Conflict Resolution Skills: Turning Down the Heat on Arguments
PREP: Five Principles for Resolving Conflicts
PREP: Communication Skills Activity

Section 4: Expressing Ourselves and Educating Others

Section Introduction

Investigating AIDS and Taking Action
by Rachel Martin
Residents write community education materials that address questions not being answered elsewhere

PREP: Critiquing Educational Materials

Saying What is True: Women Speak Out Against Domestic Violence
by Judy Hofer
When domestic violence surfaces as a common problem, a support group forms and takes action

PREP: Participatory Action Spiral
PREP: Working in Groups
How Do I Work Across Differences?

Women Create Knowledge: Participatory Action Research and Breast Cancer
Based on the writings from “Who Holds the Mirror? The Mural, Oral Histories and Pedagogy of the Breast Cancer Oral History Action Project” by Beth Sauerhaft and Marty Williams
A diverse group of women meet to learn and educate about breast cancer, the environment, and power

PREP: Assessing Your Listening Ability
PREP: Listening Techniques

Project Hope Students Teach Others about Welfare Reform
by Lorna Rivera
Formerly homeless women study the history of welfare policy and then teach others about the issue

PREP: Helping Others Learn
PREP: Whose Point of View?
PREP: Framing the Issues

Turning Obstacles Into Opportunities
by Deborah L. Johnson
A group of students decide to impact local youth by sharing their experiences at the middle school

PREP: Writing Survey Questions
PREP: Analyzing Survey Data

Section 5: Organizing for Change

Section Introduction

Don’t Take “No” for an Answer: A Poor Neighborhood Organizes
by Brenda Bell and Elnora Yarborough

A poor community organizes for a school bus stop and then a paved road

PREP: Asking the Right Questions
PREP: Applying the Right Question Process
PREP: New Bedford Students Ask Questions about the Economy

Transportation on the Move!
by Pat Larson, Cindy Rodriguez, Caridad Santiago, Donna Swain, and Lisa Willard, with an overview by Cindy Rodriguez
Students research and spearhead efforts to bring public transportation to their rural community

PREP: Timelines
PREP: Timeline Activities
PREP: Tips for Effective Meetings
PREP: Group Communication Patterns
PREP: Dealing with Difficult Dynamics
PREP: Balancing the Participation

Light in Montana: How One Town Said No to Hate
by Jo Clare Hartsig and Walter Wink
After several incidents of violence, hundreds organize for peace and tolerance

PREP: Stereotypes in the Media
PREP: Forming Opinions about Controversial Issues


Cited References
Additional Resources


Appendix A: Human Rights
Appendix B: The Economic Bill of Rights
Appendix C: The Bill of Rights for Adult Basic Education Students
Appendix D: Rhode Island Student Bill of Rights
Appendix E: When Did We Come to the U.S.?
Appendix F: Rights of All Immigrants
Appendix G: Rules on Political Activity
Appendix H: Joining Together
Appendix I: Illustrations

New England Literacy Resource Center