OurSociety Educator’s Companion

By Ron Rivers,

OurSociety Educator’s Companion


Companion Summary:   OurSociety Inc. is a non-partisan, non-political 501(c)(3) charitable organization. EIN number 82-1919398.  Our purpose is to promote civic engagement in local communities and open opportunities for more people to participate in democracy through the use of our free technological solutions.  As part of our organization’s purpose, we work with High Schools located in the communities participating in the OurSociety platform to foster discussion and exploration of what civic engagement is and why it is important.  Below we outline how our program and how it coincides with the New Jersey Social Studies standards as outlined in the 2014 State Standards Document.

Learning Objective:  Students will learn the value and importance of civic engagement in a modern age from the perspective of both local communities and collective national engagement.  Cooperating with local elected officials we will demonstrate to the students that community engagement has a tangible impact which can contribute to the greater good of society.  In addition, we introduce them to the OurSociety platform to demonstrate that becoming involved is easier than ever thanks to technology.

Seminar Summary:  Seminars are broken into two sessions, an initial engagement and then a follow-up engagement to review the students’ contributions.  The first seminar includes an open discussion about civic engagement exploring what it is and the problems it can solve both at a national and local level.  At the conclusion of the first seminar, we will ask for educator cooperation in assigning an assignment geared towards community improvement.  Students will enter groups and identify one thing that can be improved within the community and/or become involved in the public discussion about an ongoing community project.  After completing the project within an assigned time frame students will submit their ideas to the township through the OurSociety platform – allowing both elected officials and community members to read and review the plans.  Afterwards, we will return for a second seminar with an elected official (Council Member or Mayor) to discuss their submissions from the communities’ perspective.

Our program meets the following state standards for education (NJ): http://www.state.nj.us/education/cccs/2014/ss/standards.pdf

Social Studies – 6.3 Active Citizenship in the 21st Century:

  • Section 6.3.12.A.1: Develop a plan for public accountability and transparency in government related to a particular issue(s) and share the plan with appropriate government officials.
  • Chronological Thinking: Analyze how change occurs through time due to shifting values and beliefs as well as technological advancements and changes in the political and economic landscape.
  • Critical Thinking: Gather relevant information from multiple sources representing a wide range of views (including historians and experts) while using the date, context, and corroborative value of the sources to guide the selection.
  • Critical Thinking: Gather relevant information from multiple sources representing a wide range of views (including historians and experts) while using the date, context, and corroborative value of the sources to guide the selection.
  • Presentational Skills: Take a position on a current public policy issue and support it with historical evidence, reasoning, and constitutional analysis in a written and/or oral format.

OurSociety Ambassadors: Purpose & Mission

By Ron Rivers,

OurSociety Ambassadors are individuals who choose to dedicate their time and energy towards educating our youth about the importance and relevance of civic engagement.  Utilizing the OurSociety platform, Ambassadors demonstrate how easy it is for students to engage with their communities.

The Purpose of our Ambassador program is to increase the engagement and participation of young citizen by connecting their efforts with tangible results and involving them in the discussions playing out in their communities, state, and/or nation.

We strongly believe that a highly engaged citizenry is necessary for a functioning democracy but political practices have become antiquated for today’s youth.  OurSociety empowers young voters to engage in the process on their own time and in their own way.

We will measure the success of our mission by tracking community participation and voting increases among high school and college-aged citizens.  As our program grows and we learn and evolve from our experiences we hope to facilitate monthly OurSociety gatherings in participating communities to come together to discuss the proposed Policies, Plans, and Visions submitted by both elected representatives and the citizenry.  In addition, OurSociety Ambassadors will constantly solicit feedback from participants on how they believe the platform could be improved by their experience.

OurSociety Ambassadors: Volunteer To Teach Civic Engagement

By Ron Rivers,

What is an Ambassador?

OurSociety Ambassadors are citizen volunteers who want to engage with their local communities by facilitating educational seminars about civic engagement for their local High Schools by using the OurSociety platform.

OurSociety Ambassadors facilitate discussion style educational seminars with the intention of fostering a clearer understanding of civic engagement and the tangible benefits of participating in your local communities. We then work with the students to help ideate community improvement projects. Students research, plan and submit community improvement plans or policy suggestions through the OurSociety platform. A few weeks later our Ambassadors return with either the Mayor or an elected Council Member to discuss the submitted plans.

Lesson plans and discussion topics are provided by OurSociety.  Ambassadors are expected to lead discussions about the material provided.  Since we strongly focus on discussions no two lessons will ever be the same, therefore it is important that Ambassadors have strong communication skills and the patience needed to work with young adults.

Ambassadors are representatives of the OurSociety experiment and therefore should personally share the vision that OurSociety is working towards.  We believe in free, open, and transparent societies that foster opportunities for engagement, innovation, and inclusion.  To learn more about our strategic vision and plan click here.  Because we are dealing with schools and students OurSociety conducts selective interviews with Ambassador candidates and reserves the right to reject any potential volunteers for any reason.  We will do our best to provide these applicants with feedback and other pathways of involvement to help build a better society through OurSociety.

How do I become an Ambassador?

If you think that you would be an Ambassador please contact us.  When selecting a reason for your email please select “Volunteering” from the drop-down.  Be sure to leave us a contact email and/or phone number so we can set up a time to speak with you more in-depth about the program.

Note that OurSociety focuses educational efforts on municipalities that are participating in the OurSociety experiment via our platform.  If you would like to volunteer but your municipality is not yet involved please contact us anyway.  This will help us focus our efforts on which communities to add next!