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TAFT Institute for Government

The Taft Institute for Government, a strictly nonpartisan, not-for-profit 501 c 3 organization, was founded in 1961 to expand and improve political participation in the United States. For most of its history, the institute focused on improving civic education (K-12) through university-home-community workshops that provide teachers with the latest political science research, innovative pedagogy, and direct interaction with political practitioners. To date, over 30,000 teachers have participated in Taft Institute seminars. The Institute continues to conduct its Annual Seminar for Teachers, most recently in collaboration with the the Museum of the City of New York.

Since moving to the Queens College, CUNY Campus in 1996, the Institute has developed new programs, including community leadership training in new immigrant, low income, and minority communities. Generous support from the Hazen Foundation, New York Community Trust, New York Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Rockefeller Foundation helped to bring this program to communities in Queens and Brooklyn. Other programs have expanded teacher preparation for improving economic education in partnership with the Council for Economic Education (CEE). Election and city council simulation games have been designed for classroom/ school political role-play. Thus, the Institute’s current work focuses on three broad categories; professional development for teachers; curriculum development, and community leadership development. Expanding and enhancing citizen participation continues to be our overriding goal.

Our curriculum development programs, which include a uniquely rigorous election simulation model developed in collaboration with the teachers of Townsend Harris High School, a city council simulation and others, have been supported by generous grants from the New York Community Trust, The Council for Economic Education, and Teaching Primary Sources(TPS), a program of the Library of Congress. The Taft curriculum on the events of 9/11/2001, developed in collaboration with the World Trade Center United Families Group, is nationally distributed through Social Studies School Services. During 2016 and 2017, the Institute has used generous grants from New York City Councilmembers Daniel Dromm and Rory Lancman to work with the teachers of Newtown High School and Robert F. Kennedy High School to develop a new curriculum on immigration. Currently, the Institute is working with IWWA, a grass roots group of Queens citizens, to develop and implement a program of adult civic education to be presented in the fall of 2017 in collaboration with the Queens Public Libraries.

Inquiries about workshops for teachers or collaboration on curriculum development should be sent to either of the Co-Directors—Professor Jack Zevin, jack.zevin@gmail.com or Professor Michael Krasner, mkrasner@sover.net. Tax deductible contributions will be gratefully received at Taft Institute, 65-30 Kissena Boulevard, Queens, New York, 11367-1597.

"Making Democracy Work"