Rutgers’ Center for Youth Political Participation Expands RU Ready Initiative

Implementing youth civic engagement initiatives in universities and high schools across the country

New Brunswick, N.J. (Feb. 27, 2020) — The Eagleton Institute of PoliticsCenter for Youth Political Participation (CYPP) at Rutgers—New Brunswick announced the national expansion of its RU Ready civic engagement initiative. The launch begins with new RU Ready programs at Drew University in New Jersey and the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas at Austin this spring – with plans to expand the program to more universities over the next few years. The announcement comes on the heels of recent data that shows a significant increase in youth political engagement across the United States.

RU Ready helps local high school students develop the political and expressive skills needed to address public problems in their communities. College students are also trained to be peer educators by delivering a series of RU Ready lesson plans in nearby high schools. Additionally, the program includes a one-day young leaders conference and a civics fair at participating high schools. RU Ready university students learn to think deeply about how the American political system works and effectively build civic skills in the classroom.

“In recent years, we’ve seen an increased interest in youth advocacy, particularly with the creation of the youth-led climate change and gun control movements. Additionally, youth voting rates doubled from 2014 to 2018 nationwide,” said Elizabeth Matto, associate research professor and director of CYPP. “RU Ready recognizes that millennials and Generation Zer’s are eager to make their voices heard and aims to equip this new generation of leaders with the tools to make use of political institutions, to engage in the democratic process, and ultimately to spark change.”

The national expansion of the program will create a network of scholars, practitioners, teachers, and students interested in studying and encouraging youth political participation.

During the first phase of the expansion, Matto and other CYPP staff will partner with Drew University and the University of Texas at Austin to maintain the core evidence-based techniques already built into RU Ready. Staff will also explore alternative methods to customize the curriculum to meet the needs of each college campus and their partner high schools.

“We believe students can be taught a quality civics education in the classroom, but their real learning comes when they put it into practice. RU Ready Texas is a natural expansion for the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life, and the program allows us to grow our partnerships with the Austin Independent School District’s Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders,” said Jay Bernhardt, Dean of Moody College. “As a Rutgers alum myself, and now a proud Longhorn, I am especially pleased to see this innovative, experiential learning opportunity in our community.”

Heather Vaughn, Lecturer and Educational Outreach Coordinator at the Annette Strauss Institute, said, “With excited anticipation, our University of Texas at Austin students look forward to making an impact and providing the exposure to civic life that many of them did not experience before attending college. These students are highly motivated to mentor and work alongside high school students in the community this spring.”

“Drew prides itself on being a civically-engaged university and looks forward to working with the RU Ready program to help educate and inspire area high school students to think more deeply about politics and government and to encourage their active participation and leadership,” said Patrick McGuinn, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science and Education at Drew University.

The Center for Youth Political Participation is keenly interested in expanding the network of RU Ready programs. Interested schools should contact CYPP to learn more.


The Center for Youth Political Participation celebrates and supports political learning and engagement among young people through research, public service and education, driven by the potential impact of the “Millennial Generation” on American democracy.

The Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University—New Brunswick studies how American politics and government work and change, analyzes how the democracy might improve, and promotes political participation and civic engagement. The Institute explores state and national politics through research, education, and public service, linking the study of politics with its day-to-day practice.


Rutgers University–New Brunswick is where Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, began more than 250 years ago. Ranked among the world’s top 60 universities, Rutgers’s flagship is a leading public research institution and a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. It has an internationally acclaimed faculty, 12 degree-granting schools and the Big Ten Conference’s most diverse student body.