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Governor’s Civics Seal

On March 4, 2019, Governor Bill Lee announced the “Governor’s Civics Seal” during his State of the State address. The Governor’s Civics Seal recognizes schools and districts that prioritize teaching our nation’s history and civic values. Along with the announcement of this program, Governor Lee allocated $500,000 to support public schools and districts in implementing high-quality civic education programs that result in readiness for college, career, and civic life. Because of this, the Tennessee General Assembly passed HB0944/SBO800, which amended T.C.A. 49-6-1028 and officially established the Governor’s Civics Seal.

The Governor’s Civics Seal has two main sections:

A. State Report Card:

a)       Identify on the State Report Card each school earning the Seal as a Tennessee Excellence in Civics Education School

b)      Designate LEAs in which at least 80% of their schools earn the Seal as a Tennessee Excellence in Civics Education District

B. Criteria for a school to earn the Seal:

a)       Incorporate civic learning across a broad range of grades and academic subjects that builds on the Tennessee academic standards, such as the civics lesson plans and the blue book lesson plans provided by the secretary of state

b)      Provide instruction regarding our nation's democratic principles and practices, the significant events and individuals responsible for the creation of our foundational documents, and the formation of the governments of the United States and the state of Tennessee using the federal and state foundational documents in accordance with S 49-6-1028

c)       Provide professional development opportunities or student resources that support civics education, such as civics education workshops offered by the secretary of state

d)      Provide opportunities for students to engage in real-world learning activities, including the secretary of state's student mock election and civics essay contest

e)       Have fully implemented a high-quality, project-based assessment in accordance with S 49-6-1028(e), if applicable

f)        Be recognized as a civics all-star school in accordance with S 49-6-408, if applicable

School- and District-Level Mini-Grants

The purpose of the Governor’s Civics Seal Mini-Grants is to fund school- and district-level initiatives that provide programs, resources, and professional learning opportunities that emphasize life-long civic learning and prepare schools and districts to earn the Governor’s Civics Seal in the 2020-21 school year. Using a competitive application process, applications will be reviewed and scored by a panel using a rubric to evaluate qualifications and identify needs, impact strategies, and capacity.

Grants will be awarded in the following amounts:

  • School-level: $5,000 to $10,000 will be awarded to 20 rural and urban schools across Tennessee.
  • District-level: $15,000 will be awarded to 10 rural and urban school districts across Tennessee.

The application will be available here beginning on Friday, Oct. 25. Applications will be accepted through Friday, Dec. 6. Program coordinators from selected schools and districts will attend a one-time meeting on Jan. 24, 2020 in the Nashville area (meeting date subject to change).

To help schools and districts better understand the Governor’s Civics Seal and how to earn mini-grants, the department has prepared an online training. Please note that, in order to access the training, you will need to make a free account on the department's learning management system if you do not already have one.

Schools and districts should use the following documents to complete their applications:

Please email with any additional questions.

Governor's Civics Seal Design Contest


Students have the opportunity to design the physical seal that will be used to represent the Governor’s Civics Seal programming. This seal will be used on mini-grant awards, the Governor’s Civics Seal website, and the State Report Card.

One student design will be selected; this student will win a $1,000 scholarship to be placed in a 529 account. A 529 plan is a college savings plan that offers tax and financial aid benefits. 529 plans may also be used to save and invest for K–12 tuition in addition to college costs.

Interested students should use the submission rules and parameters as well as the seal template provided in the Governor’s Civics Seal  Design Contest: Informational Packet.  The submission window opens Friday, Nov. 1, 2019 and closes Friday, Dec. 13, 2019. All submissions should be uploaded using the online form.

All applicants will also need to complete and upload this waiver.