Public Achievement

Public Achievement (PA) international, is a youth led, civic engagement initiative that seeks to promote student voice and transformative change for individuals and communitites.  At CU Boulder undergraduates serve as PA coaches alongside  K-12 students in Boulder and Lafayette schools.  Together students participate in a year-long cycle of inquiry and action around school and community based social justice issues  All participants gain insight on community leadership, the foundations of social change and the power of relationships. 

Background and Goals

Public Achievement was 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.  PA engages youth in finding ways to propose solutions and take action on school and social issues issues they have identified.  PA students collaborate with college "coaches" to design, implement, and undertake community-based projects around the social issues they identify.

University of Colorado Boulder’s Public Achievement program is housed within CU Engage, a center for community-based learning and research in the School of Education.  PA seeks to provide 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.

History and Participating Sites

The University of Colorado Boulder launched Public Achievement (PA) in partnership with the "I Have a Dream" Foundation of Boulder County and the Boulder Valley School District in January 2008. Since then, PA has been implemented at seven sites. During the 2016-2017 academic year, PA will be administered at Angevine Middle School and Centaurus High School in Lafayette, as well as Creekside Elementary School and Columbine Elementary School in Boulder, where more than 250 K-12 students and 80 CU undergraduates will collectively participate in the program.

Cooperating Centaurus High School teachers and I Have a Dream program coordinators also find merit in the program.  When asked to cite specific skills that students acquire through their participation in PA, faculty and staff cited public speaking, networking, written communication, event planning, presentation, research, advocacy, team building, and fundraising skills. One hundred percent of cooperating faculty and staff also indicated that PA particpants become increasingly conficent in their interactions with their peers and adults throughout the process, as well as gain the capacity to articulate complex ideas.

See The RMC Research Evaulation Brief for a brief by RMC Research, which evaluated PA programs in the United States during the 2005-2006 academic year.