Our American Voice® Institute
Promoting Civic Learning and Community Engagement
The Our American Voice® Institute was established by the Barat Education Foundation to build civic and community capital strengthening the ties that bind us together as Americans. The Institute has three cornerstone components: OAV Schools, Citizen U®, and Civic Life Collaborations.
The OAV Schools Program has operated in schools throughout Illinois since 2009 to develop the citizens of tomorrow today.
Citizen U® is funded through a Library of Congress grant to provide primary source-based lesson plans, educational resources, and assistance to teachers and students across the U.S.
Civic Life Collaborations
The Institute partners with communities, educational institutions, nonprofits, and others to implement initiatives to strengthen our American democracy.
"Our school district has been involved with the Our American Voice (OAV) program since 2013…we have experienced a phenomenal increase in student involvement with meaningful projects that we feel support the development of the whole child, which not only epitomizes our goal but adds credence to OAV."
Stanley S. Fields
Former Superintendent of South Berwyn District 100
"I love to see my students engaged actively in our community and wanting to find ways to fix it. I have seen my students take something that is a challenge, face it head on, and move to solve that problem. I have had students come back and tell me after leaving Hiawatha that they stayed in OAV at Freedom to find ways to make changes."
OAV Instructor, Berwyn South School District 100
"Our American Voice an amazing middle school civics program. The opportunities afforded to these students will become the norm in grades 6-8 when the IL Senate passes #CivicsInTheMiddle, HB 2265." Tweeted in support.
Former Director, Democracy Program at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation
"The biggest thing I've learned from OAV is that no matter your age, your ethnciity, your gender, you can make a difference in this world as long as you put your mind to it...I love to see everyone's viewpoints, why they chose their project, their determination and their initiative. OAV's a good way to make your voice heard."
OAV Student, Heritage Middle School
"Our American Voice is the only innovative program in the United States that I’m aware of that provides students at these grade levels with the unique and critical opportunity to enhance their knowledge of the governmental and political system and to provide a pathway for civic engagement for young citizens."
Former Professor of Political Science at Loyola University in Chicago
"In OAV, I've learned that we're not just one voice in our school; we're a whole group of students who get to share our voice into one."
OAV Student, Hiawatha Elementary School
"Someday you'll be the ones making the decisions for our country...when that time comes, your participation in OAV and your continued civics education will make you a better leader." Spoken in a video address to OAV participants in 2020.