Who we are
CSI empowers citizens to build democracy, heal inequity, and serve their community
We believe in working within the capabilities and strengths of a community
We believe our work should prepare people to go on without us
We believe empowering the people is the only true and sustainable pathway to peace/better futures
Civics and Service International (CSI) was founded on the belief that even people and societies that experienced unimaginable trauma can recover and empower themselves to live sustainably, peacefully, and democratically.
Headquartered in the United States and Liberia, we partner with leading local organizations to engage local and international stakeholders, working collaboratively for lasting solutions. Since its founding, CSI has created programs that prepare Africa’s young people to become leaders and change agents in their communities. Our organization was founded in 2012, under the name Child Steps International, at a critical time for the people of Liberia. After years of war, endemic poverty, and trauma, the country possessed abundant natural resources but lacked the infrastructure and human capital needed for lasting recovery.
Civics and Service International empowers youth and adults to become tomorrow’s leaders through civics education and leadership programs. We created a comprehensive, interactive civics education program that teaches Liberians of all ages about laws, government structure, justice, and peacebuilding, as well as their rights and responsibilities. In partnership with the Ministry of Education, Republic of Liberia, and with the support of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), we piloted our middle and high school curriculum, LAW+YOU, in 40 schools across Liberia. In total, we trained 70 teachers and reached 10,000 students with civics education in schools.
At the same time, civics education was sorely needed in other parts of society where citizens had experienced years of war and conflict with few opportunities to participate in democracy. CSI’s weekly LAW+YOU Radio Show delivers civics education in the form of interviews, skits, poems, and other mediums to engage the public. Our LAW+YOU Community Program, a small group civics training for out-of-school youth and community members, has been taught in 10 communities across Liberia. Its interactive format makes it accessible to people regardless of their literacy level.
In 2020, the Liberian Ministry of Education made LAW+YOU civics the approved curriculum for junior and senior high schools. across Liberia. We began the process of publishing and printing textbooks and rolling out teacher training and school support. We look forward to the day each student can benefit from not only civic education, but also civic engagement in the pursuit of healing injustice and promoting democracy.
With that as our focus, we changed our name from Child Steps International to Civics and Service International. As we continue to work to bring civics education and participation to students and communities in Liberia, we recognize that the need for this critical education persists in many fragile communities around the world. We look to the future with ambition and hope. With the support of our partners and donors, our work will expand to help even more communities recover and empower themselves sustainably, peacefully, and democratically.
In partnership with the Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Department of Social Welfare (DSW) – and funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and World Learning – Child Steps International performed a community baseline needs assessment to collect field and desk data which identified the four greatest needs facing vulnerable children in Liberia.
The Social and Community Organization for Revitalization, Empowerment and Sustainability (SCORES) program was started to implement Community Centers across Liberia.
"What I tell other people about the LAW+YOU class is how to become a good citizens and the role of a community leader."
- Bartterina, Liberian Junior High Student, Age 14
I learned that 18 years and above are eligible to vote, and how bills are enacted into laws.
-Robert V., 15 years old
It surprised me to know that every child has the right to rest and play.
-Vamah S., 13 years old
I learned how to be a good citizen and how to express my opinions about issues.
-Vamba S., 13 years old
Only 24% of participants said they knew how to vote pre-training compared to 100% after the program.
Before the program, 100% of the participants believed that only the government could solve problems in their communities. After the program 77% believed that they could make a positive change in their own community.
Women and girls make up 61% of the LAW+YOU Community Program participants.
Civics Education For All
Why do we need civics education in Liberia? How will it change lives? We had no idea the impact it would have when we started. Eight years later, we know we must keep pushing until we have civics education for all!