An international youth leadership program developed in 1990 by the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at the University of Minnesota (now at Augsburg College), Public Achievement challenges traditional notions of citizen participation by placing young people in the center of their civic environment. Rooted in cooperative team action, PA engages participants in solutions-based discourse and action to address youth-identified social issues, posit an alternative approach to politics, and provide experiential educational opportunities. In practice, PA students collaborate with college "coaches" to design, implement, and undertake community-based projects around salient social issues that are identified by them and express their own values and beliefs.

Administered by the Institute for Ethical and Civic Engagement (IECE) in partnership with INVST Community Studies and the School of Education, the University of Colorado's Public Achievement program seeks to promote academic excellence, student retention, and access to post-secondary education among K-12 participants through the development of P-16 civic engagement partnerships. Concurrently, PA provides CU Boulder undergraduates with a meaningful and structured opportunity to apply curriculum and civic engagement theory while developing cultural and civic competencies and public and pedagogical skills.