Published in: Social Education, 2011; 75(5): 267-270. Introduction: Teachers, policymakers, and researchers recognize the importance of addressing the country's devastating academic achievement gap, but discussion and action have focused primarily on traditional content knowledge and skills: literacy and math. Less attention has been paid to an expanding gap in civic engagement amongst our nation's youth. Similar to the academic achievement gap, non-white, poor, and/or immigrant youth demonstrate significantly lower levels of civic knowledge, skills, motivation, and participation (Levinson, 2010; Verba, Schlozman, & Brady, 1995). For instance, compared to Americans earning under $15,000, Americans earning over $75,000 are twice as likely to contact an elected official and protest, almost three times more likely to participate in informal community activities, and more than four times more likely to work on a campaign or serve on a board (Verba, Schlozman, & Brady, 1995). On the 2006 NAEP Civics Assessment, poor White 4 th and 8 th graders performed as well as middle-and upper-class Black and Latino students, and significantly better than poor Black and Latino youth (Levinson, 2010). This gap ensures that policy decisions and social structures generally reflect the interests of a small minority rather than our diverse nation as a whole (Levinson, 2010; Verba, Schlozman, & Brady, 1995). The widening civic engagement gap deserves our urgent attention, and it starts with ensuring that students receive an effective civics education. Civic education has been neglected in recent years due to the questionable effectiveness of its more traditional forms (Niemi & Junn, 1998) and the increased importance of economic competiveness and standardized tests (Grubb & Lazerson, 2004; Reuben, 2005; Graham, 2005), which rarely cover civics. However, high-quality civics instruction, which includes discussion of current events, service-learning opportunities, and simulations of democratic processes (Carnegie Corporation of New York and CIRCLE, 2003), has been associated with gains in civic outcomes, especially for poor and minority students (Kahne & Sporte, 2008). Moreover, civic engagement is positively associated with educational attainment and achievement test scores (Carnegie Corporation and CIRCLE, 2003). When taught in an engaging manner that also reinforces and applies interdisciplinary knowledge, civic education can help stimulate and motivate students to excel in other academic areas, while simultaneously preparing our young people to be active citizens in our democracy. While this research suggests that civic education has an important place in schools, and that its quality matters, there is less research that closely examines the curriculum and instruction taking place in civics programs that attempt to challenge the status quo. This dearth of research Page 2 of 8 means that little guidance is available to policymakers and practitioners who hope to narrow the gap in civic engagement. Several organizations promoting high-quality civic education have recently banded together to form the National Action Civics Collaborative, an attempt to create and share strategies for more effective practice and evaluation. As an initial attempt to more systematically analyze civic education practice, this paper presents four case studies of projects in one action civics program, Generation Citizen. While it is a descriptive study and cannot be used to draw conclusions about best practices in civic education, it can raise questions to guide much-needed further research, as well as share lessons learned that may be applicable to schools or organizations hoping to incorporate action civics into their curriculum. What is action civics? One approach to civic education, action civics, has recently been developed by nonprofit organizations that collaborate closely with schools and districts. While action civics programs, such as the Mikva Challenge in Chicago and Earth Force, based in Colorado, may differ in the specifics of their programming, all emphasize collective action, youth voice and agency, and reflection. Students select issues important to them, and take action on those issues within a context that promotes reflection, skills development, and other forms of learning. Generation Citizen, the action civics organization profiled in this article, promotes civic engagement in historically under-represented youth populations by offering a student-centered curriculum explicitly aligned with state educational standards in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New York. Based on the literature outlined above and preliminary evaluation findings in action civics organizations, we hypothesize that students' learning in civics can simultaneously promote motivation and self-efficacy, which may also spill over to affect performance and engagement in other academic disciplines.