Making Democracy Work

Civics 101

What is Civics 101?

How much do you really know about your local government? Less than three years after participation in the League of Women Voters of Charlotte-Mecklenburg's inaugural Civics 101 class in 1995, one young man was taking his seat as a member of Charlotte City Council. Another young man took the class and subsequently took an appointment to the Zoning Board of Adjustments and Appeals.

Both credited the knowledge that they gained in the Civics 101 program for "showing them how to get involved in government" and how to have a "positive impact quickly." They believe that Civics 101 was a perfect avenue for learning the initial information they needed in order to represent the people well. Further, political candidates, who have participated in the class tout their Civics 101 experience in their campaign literature!

History of Civics 101

Civics 101 was conceived of as a "good idea" by local League members more than twenty years ago for an initial target audience of League members to address the expressed desire to learn more about how local government really works.

We held the first public class anticipating at most 20 people would participate. However, LWVC-M members were astounded by the 65 people who attended the first evening. Obviously, citizens are hungry for the type of information LWVC-M Civics 101 provides as an introduction to local government for new voters, new arrivals, and even longtime residents.

Civics 101 Structure

Civics 101 continues to be the premier source of comprehensive and concise civic education in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The program consists of five evening sessions covering topics such as the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board, the Mecklenburg County Commission, Charlotte City Council, the Mecklenburg County Courts, and the local media via the Charlotte Observer.

The program is sponsored by LWVC-M and staffed by league volunteers. Persons who attend three of the first four sessions are awarded a "Certified Public Activist" certificate at the Civics 101 graduation ceremony. Those who attend all the sessions are recognized as a "Distinguished CPA".

Hold Your Own Civics 101 Course

Local League of Women Voters chapters have requested the Civics 101 sample materials to assist with holding their own programs. Course material templates will be made available where possible. Additionally, many other organizations have expressed interest in hosting their own versions of Civics 101. If you are interested in holding your own program, please contact the Director of Civics 101.

Civics 101 Course

COURSE INFORMATION

Civics 101 is a 5-week, one-evening-per-week course led by current and former government officials in a face-to-face format. This course is especially useful to (1) the citizens of Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, (2) people living in the Charlotte Metropolitan area, and (3) persons wanting to learn more about how local government works.

The participant outcomes include: (1) becoming an informed citizen who is in the know, (2) learning how local government works, (3) identifying what government departments can help you when you need assistance in the Metro-Charlotte area, and (4) knowing where to direct your energy in order to inspire change.

The League completed the Civics 101 Course for 2017. Check back at the end of the year for information and dates for next year's course offering.

You can get an idea of what we offered by opening the Session Information for more detailed information about each class and check our Civics 101 Course Flyer.