OAV Schools

The Our American Voice® Schools Program (OAV) has operated in the State of Illinois since 2009. OAV is a one-of-a-kind civic learning and engagement program for middle school students (Grades 5-8). OAV is unique because of its action civics focus and the local community improvement projects initiated and implemented by students. 

OAV State of Illinois
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Since its establishment, OAV has reached 175 teachers and over 7,000 students in 150 schools primarily located in socially and economically disadvantaged communities throughout the state of Illinois. Those students, with input and assistance from teachers and community members, have taken the lead in creating over 170 community improvement projects to strengthen their communities.

OAV is a two-part program that has traditionally been conducted over 20-25 weeks.

Part I: Civic Learning centers on four core principles:

  • Citizenship is a way of life, not a singular event
  • With our rights and freedoms come responsibilities
  • The success of the individual and community are interdependent
  • The informed participation of the people shapes and sustains our democracy

Part II: Student Engagement puts these principles into action with students developing projects to improve their school, neighborhood, community or society.

OAV Schools Expansion

In 2023 and 2024, the OAV Schools Program was used as the basis for developing three new
completely digitized online packages:

  • Our American Voice® Civics Curriculum for Illinois Middle Schools
  • Our American Voice® Civic Engagement Program (Coming in 2024)
  • Our American Voice® Civic Family Life is Civic Life (Coming in 2024)

These packages were created to make OAV available to schools throughout Illinois and
across the country.

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OAV Civics Curriculum

The OAV Civics Curriculum (Civics Curriculum) was developed with the assistance of a Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources grant and is available nationally for free.

The Civics Curriculum consists of ten essential lessons derived from Part I: Civic Learning, part of the OAV Schools program:

  • Citizenship and the Common Good
  • Rules, Laws and Responsibilities
  • I’m More Than You See
  • Power to the People
  • A Living Document
  • News, Perspective, Bias
  • Everyone’s Voices
  • Making it Better
  • Federal, State and Local Government
  • Impacts of Congress

There are three different levels (Beginning, Middle, and Advanced) for each lesson.  All of the lessons feature Library of Congress primary sources and employ the Inquiry Arc.

The Civics Curriculum includes implementation instructions and summative assessments. It is flexible and easily customizable to local needs.

OAV Civics Curriculum for Illinois Middle Schools

IL Capital

The OAV Civics Curriculum for Illinois Middle Schools (Illinois Civics Curriculum) was developed with the assistance of a grant made possible by the Illinois State Senate under the leadership of Senator Don Harmon.  It is available free to all middle schools in Illinois.


The Illinois Civics Curriculum employs the ten OAV essential lessons fine-tuned to ensure alignment with Illinois middle school requirements for the content and process of implementation.  As with the OAV Civics Curriculum, it includes implementation instructions and summative assessments.  In addition, it provides examples of student civic engagement projects and a civic engagement planning template.

OAV Civic Engagement Program

The OAV Civic Engagement Program (Civic Engagement Program) replicates Part I: Civic Learning and Part II: Student Engagement of the OAV Schools Program in an online package.

The Civic Engagement Program features a Facilitator's Guide and Workbooks to be used in implementing the program.  It adds ten enhancement lessons to the ten OAV essential lessons.  It also provides detailed instructions and resources for student engagement projects.

Berywn Dist 100 Ribbon Ceremony for Playground

Irving School's ribbon cutting ceremony to open its new playground. The playground was funded by a grant from the State of Illinois. Thanks to our OAV students, and countless others for their amazing efforts bringing the community together on this project.

Thanks to our OAV students, and countless others for their amazing efforts bringing the community together on this project.

Kids volunteering