In both developing and mature democracies, many people lack the basic legal knowledge, civic engagement skills, and confidence needed to effectively participate in civic life. To build and maintain a strong democratic society, countries and communities must invest in the citizens who will uphold and safeguard the norms, ideals, and values of democracy.
Often, it is these everyday citizens that are the most important and yet least served constituency for the development of a healthy democratic society. To bridge this gap, Street Law collaborates with law schools, NGOs, and government agencies around the globe to build public legal education programs, train educators, and develop teaching materials. Our international programs take a grassroots approach to change, empowering program participants with essential civic skills and knowledge, building their practical ability to advocate for themselves and others, and enhancing the rule of law.
Street Law’s international programs are based around three core values:
- Methodology matters: Our programs and curricula utilize interactive, participatory, and learner-centered teaching methods. For nearly 50 years, we have seen that when youth are empowered to deeply engage in their own learning, they rise to the occasion. The active approach ensures that learners develop not only their civic and legal knowledge but also their engagement skills and confidence.
- Active participation of young people: Through work with educators, community organizations, and governments, we help design programs and resources that equip youth to be active citizens. Our skills-building approach to youth development empowers young people to find positive outlets for their energies, solve personal and societal problems, and make their communities stronger.
- Sustainability and lasting impact: We partner with local individuals and organizations and give them the practical tools they need to independently sustain their programs. We are proud of the fact that Street Law programs—developed with our input and resources but run independently—continue to thrive in countries and communities around the world
Since 1986, Street Law has implemented a range of projects in more than 40 countries throughout Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Check out our program map to learn more about our diverse historical portfolio of work outside of the U.S.
We believe that a well-informed public who are knowledgeable about legal matters and confident in their ability to navigate civic processes is critical to a functioning democracy. Unfortunately, in too many communities around the world, legal education is reserved for the select few who go to law schools. The wider public rarely have the opportunity to learn about practical legal and civic matters that are pertinent to their lives and are, therefore, ill prepared to fully engage in their communities.
Street Law’s public legal education programs are changing that. We provide opportunities for young people to not only learn about the law but build their ability and confidence to engage in their democracies. Our programs utilize law students and legal professionals to teach practical and applicable legal matters to high school students. Over 200 law schools around the world have taken our idea of law school-based public legal education and have run with it to provide high-quality law-related education to a wide array of students.
Research has shown that the single most important factor in determining educational quality is the quality of the teaching. Therefore, we believe that training of teachers and other education providers is a critical element of nearly all high-quality programs. In civic and public legal education, teacher training is especially important—the teaching methodology must be uniquely participatory in order to empower students to civically participate in their societies.
Street Law’s designs and implements a variety of training programs both in the U.S. and around the world. Our programs provide teachers with both an overview of the important concepts and best practices in their field as well as a plethora of practical tools that they can utilize in their classrooms immediately.
Street Law is a leading expert in the development of civic and law-related teaching materials. We have written two full-length textbooks that are published by McGraw-Hill Education. Our original groundbreaking textbook, Street Law: A Course in Practical Law (now in its 9th edition) is used in high school classrooms across the United States to help students learn about and confidently interact with U.S. legal processes. United States Government: Our Democracy, an innovative text also for high school classrooms published in 2018, helps educators teach students about government and how to “do democracy.”
Outside of the United States, we have worked with partners around the world to develop context- and country-specific resources for teachers and learners. Our texts and resources cover topics such as democracy, human rights, rule of law, and law enforcement, all in a customized and culturally appropriate way. With experience developing resources for every kind of country context, Street Law is well equipped to create powerful and impactful educational resources for teachers and students.