SLiCE Engagement Programs: Public Achievement

Public Achievement is a volunteer opportunity to engage Fort Collins middle and high school students and guide them to create impactful change in our community. College student volunteers will gain skills in coaching, facilitation, reflection, and leadership through the international Public Achievement model.

Want to empower students in the community? Looking to gain experience working with students in a local classroom? Wish that people had the tools and motivations to make their world better earlier in life?

Public Achievement connects CSU students to local high school classrooms. The volunteers empower, inspire, and guide the high school students through a project to improve their community that they are passionate about. Projects can range from implementing a Bike to School Week, a community garden, running a campaign for suicide prevention, working towards housing solutions in Fort Collins, or any local/national issues. The students decide on the project that is meaningful and impactful for them, and CSU students facilitate the process. Public Achievement is a national program that integrates civic engagement in schools and improves communities. It is founded on the tradition of the Citizenship Schools of Septima Clark that educated leaders for the civil rights movement in the U.S. Consider applying to be a part of this great tradition at CSU!

Time commitment:

  • One class period a week in a local high school class
  • Two-hour meetings 6 times per semester
  • One-day training at the start of the year
  • Total time is 2-3 hours a week 


  • Receive training in facilitation and social change processes
  • Gain leadership experience and build year-long relationships
  • Become involved in the greater Fort Collins community
  • Practice and gain experience in collaboration

Developed by The Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg College in Minneapolis in 1990, Public Achievement is a service learning model used internationally. The purpose is to engage people of all ages to recognize the difference they can make within their communities. The Public Achievement curriculum goes through six stages throughout the semester or year which are:

  1. Exploration and Discovery (Understanding of self and situation within community)
  2. Issue Development (Recognition of issues and selection of problem)
  3. Problem Research (Interviewing stakeholders, understanding what has been done)
  4. Designing a Project (Creating an action plan with past steps in mind)
  5. Implementing the Action Plan
  6. Reflection, Communication, and Celebration (including a presentation of work completed)

CSU volunteers act as coaches that come into the Fort Collins classrooms weekly for one class period (50-90 minutes) where they work with the students guiding them through the six stages of their project. Ultimately, this is led by the students. Educators and volunteers are there to guide and facilitate the process, but the projects are student driven to ignite their passion and make it purposeful for them. The program focuses on citizenship, democracy, and the power every person has to make change in their community.

Projects can range from sustainability initiatives (such as a Bike to School week or starting a recycling program), to campaigns surrounding mental health awareness, immigration, bullying, or oppression. They can operate at the school, town, or even state level. The projects can be whatever the students make them, however big or local that may be. What is important is that the students care about the work they are doing, and that they learn the process involved in change. That way, they can continue to be active citizens in the future.

The Student Leadership, Involvement, and Community Engagement (SLiCE) office at CSU is looking for more community partners if you are an educator who would like to incorporate this program into your class.

Frequently Asked Questions

Public Achievement at CSU is a program focused on inspiring, engaging and empowering local high school students.  Public Achievement at CSU is coordinated through the Student Leadership, Involvement, and Community Engagement (SLiCE) office. SLiCE selects and trains current CSU students with an emphasis on facilitation skills and the social change process. SLiCE partners with established community classrooms/teachers and programs to guide the high school students through a collaborative project. Students are empowered to create a collective project focused on community improvement.  The goal is to empower students for citizenship and to practice the skills of democracy and community engagement.

Yes. Public Achievement volunteers must commit for the entire year to ensure continuity for the programs and secondary students.

Coaches inspire and engage students!  The role of the coach is to empower students to take direct action on a community issue.  Coaches facilitate conversations, lead activities focused on social justice, connect students with community leaders, and support their efforts for social change. Throughout the academic year, students work through curriculum of the six stages of Public Achievement which are: 1) Exploration and Discovery, 2) Issue Development, 3) Problem Research, 4) Designing a Project, 5) Implementing the Action Plan, and 6) Reflection, Communication, and Celebration.

Coaches are in the classroom for one hour per week. There is flexibility for additional time outside of class if a student project requires.

Yes! Public Achievement started in Minnesota in 1990 and has since grown to the international level. Public Achievement is similar to other service-learning curriculums, but has specific steps and core concepts that are consistent throughout every Public Achievement project. The Public Achievement process is used in many parts of the world, as well as multiple universities in Colorado. We at CSU collaborate with Public Achievement programs at University of Denver, University of Colorado at Boulder, and Colorado College.

Coaches apply to the program and are selected based on experience with social change, desire to work with students, and time availability. Applications are on a rolling basis in the Spring.

Public Achievement at CSU is currently working with Fort Collins High School and expanding to other schools soon. Stay tuned for how those students are engaging in citizenship through the community projects they create!

Coaches are expected to be at every class session. This is usually an hour per week (not including transportation time). In addition, they spend time lesson planning with their co-coach(es). Finally, there is a one-day training at the beginning of the semester, a one-hour meeting every other week with all the coaches and a two-hour meeting once a month with all of the coaches. Public Achievement is usually a commitment of about 2 hours per week.

Public Achievement at CSU currently works with Fort Collins High school which is a distance away from CSU main campus.  Coaches are responsible for getting to the school.  Carpooling is suggested.