Robert C. Byrd Center, Shepherd University launch new social studies teacher program

With the help of a $136,250 Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation grant, the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education and Shepherd University are launching a new initiative to enrich the civics and social studies education of West Virginia students. People Powered: Civic Action, Community Engagement, and American Representative Democracy will utilize the rich resources of the Robert C. Byrd Archives to transform the teaching of 10th-12th grade history, social studies, and civics classes, and AP American history classes.

People Powered is designed to bring together public school teachers from across the state for an intensive introduction to the principles behind the People Powered teaching project, as well as a range of experiential learning tools developed by the Byrd Center for the teaching of civics and social studies classes. High school history and civics teachers will apply for one of two intensive workshops, held virtually from the Byrd Center, on June 28 and 30, 2023. The teachers accepted to the program will each receive a stipend of $925 for participating in the workshop and the pilot project over the 2023-24 academic year.

At the end of the 2023-24 academic year, teachers participating in People Powered will present a social studies learning activity, lesson, or unit at the People Powered capstone on April 20, 2024. The most effective presentation will be awarded a $5,000 prize for their school to enhance the social studies curriculum and/or to apply toward learning resources and educational initiatives at the winning institution.

The People Powered project is geared to engender civic action and community engagement, enhance American representative democracy in the curriculum and lives of young citizens throughout West Virginia, and, most importantly, inspire experiential learning in the social studies curriculum in the public schools through the resources of the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education.

Teachers interested in participating in the People Powered project can submit their application online at the Byrd Center website at Only 30 teachers will be selected for the project, so educators are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. For additional information, contact Dr. Sylvia Bailey Shurbutt, People Powered program manager and director of the Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities at Shepherd University at

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