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About the Center

Our Mission

The Rendell Center promotes civic education and engagement. To accomplish this, we offer opportunities for educators and students to develop the knowledge, practices and dispositions of engaged citizenship. For educators, we create curriculum content, pedagogical tools, and professional development experiences. The Rendell Center also provides to students of all ages and grade levels opportunities, events, and spaces for dialogue about and engagement with issues of citizenship and civics.

Our Work

The work The Rendell Center for Civics and Civic Engagement does is divided into two program areas, to be fully developed through 2020:

Curriculum Development: The Rendell Center will create and disseminate a K-12 curriculum (We the Civics Kids) and other curricula and pedagogical tools that assist educators in the promotion of civic education and active citizenship among students.

Professional Development for Educators: The Rendell Center will provide distinctive learning opportunities for educators and significant financial assistance to help make participation possible. The Rendell Center will host summer institutes, including a “Constitutional Scholars Institute” featuring an intensive, week-long course on the substance and teaching of American History, civics, and the Constitution. The Rendell Center will also create other professional development opportunities.

Our History
Colleagues in the mission to strengthen civics education in our schools: Judge Marjorie Rendell, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and Governor Ed Rendell at a PennCORD conference in 2004.

Colleagues in the mission to strengthen civics education in our schools: Judge Marjorie Rendell, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and Governor Ed Rendell at a PennCORD conference in 2004.

The Rendell Center’s history began with PennCORD. PennCORD, the Pennsylvania Coalition for Representative Democracy, was formed in 2004 as a unique union of educational, advocacy and governmental organizations committed to improving civic learning for students in grades K-12. Created in response to the Civic Mission of Schools Report, PennCORD set out to reinvigorate civic engagement among Pennsylvania youth. PennCORD’s goal was for every Pennsylvania school to prepare its students to understand and participate in their communities, society and government. Building a solid foundation of civic learning for every student is the first critical step toward achieving this goal. PennCORD defined active civic learning as the integration of three learning spheres: civic knowledge, public action, and democratic deliberation.

  • Civic knowledge: an understanding of United States government and history with a focus on the rights and responsibilities guaranteed to each citizen in the Constitution.
  • Public action: the actions taken by each citizen in one’s home, school, neighborhood, city, state, nation and global community.
  • Democratic deliberation: the ability to consider, analyze and discuss issues with others.

Founding partners in the coalition included the Office of the Governor of Pennsylvania, under the leadership of First Lady Judge Marjorie O. Rendell, the National Constitution Center, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

To continue the civics education activities of PennCORD, the former Governor of Pennsylvania, Edward G. Rendell, and the former First Lady, Judge Marjorie O. Rendell, initially established “The Rendell Center for Citizenship and Civics” in 2013 as a program at Arcadia University in collaboration with the National Constitution Center (the “Rendell Center at Arcadia”). Subsequently, Governor Edward G. Rendell and Judge Marjorie O. Rendell determined it would be best to establish The Rendell Center for Citizenship and Civics as a separate, stand-alone nonprofit, tax-exempt organization, and thus incorporated The Rendell Center on September 9, 2014 for such purpose.

In February of 2015, The Rendell Center moved to its new home at the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. “This is an alliance of two strong partners with the same mission—improving the quality of civics education in the nation,” said APPC Director Kathleen Hall Jamieson. “The civics programming that Judge Rendell and the Rendell Center have created for the younger grades is a perfect complement to the work that APPC’s Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics has developed for high schoolers.”

“We at Penn are honored and delighted to partner with the Rendell Center,” said University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann. “The Center’s goal of buttressing a robust civics education for young people aligns beautifully with the ideals of Penn’s founder Benjamin Franklin, and mirrors the University’s own long-standing commitment to civic engagement. I commend Judge Rendell and Governor Rendell, both stalwart friends of the University, for this praiseworthy work.”