Letters to the Next President: Exploring Youth Civic Identity and Classroom Writing Practices in a National Online Network

Principal Investigator: Antero Garcia | Graduate School of Education | Stanford University


The 2016 presidential election surfaced deep rifts in the U.S. political and social fabric, revealing a glaring need for increased development of public civic participation and media literacy. During this period, the online platform 'Letters to the Next President' published nearly 13,000 letters to the next U.S. president, written by students from 350 schools in 47 states. However, little is known about what youth voiced in this vast set of compositions. Nor do we know how students of different backgrounds took up this opportunity to participate in civic dialogue. With the support of the Spencer foundation, Dr. Garcia and his research team are examining this rich trove of student writing to explore how students’ topics of concern vary across diverse school sites and geographical areas nationwide. In addition, this exploration will include a deeper analysis of letters from a sample of schools in underserved communities. By focusing on the topics and rhetorical approaches of youth, Dr. Garcia’s research team explore how civic identity is constructed in schools and through writing today. The study also analyzes how teachers experienced this endeavor to elicit and scaffold student voice via an online initiative, what aspects of their professional trajectories contributed to their interpretation of the project, and how their participation contributed, if at all, to teacher professional learning.,

Grant Type:

Small Grant

Grant Amount:




Research Area:

The New Civics

Topic / Subject:

Civic Engagement, Teaching/Pedagogical Studies, Student Behavior/Attitude

Methods / Approach:

Textual analysis, Survey/Questionnaire, Interviews

Disciplinary Perspective:

English/Literary Studies, Sociology, Education