News Release

Chief Justice Announces Application Period Open for Civic Learning Awards

New website has award application form, resources to connect judges with teachers, and information on the civic learning initiative.
Mar 7, 2024

California Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero today announced the opening of the nomination period for the 2024 Civic Learning Awards.

Now in its 12th year, and co-sponsored by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, the awards honor schoolwide achievements in civics.

New Website Connects Judges With Teachers
In addition to information on how to submit applications for this year’s civic learning awards, a new, full-service website also provides a collection of resources for teachers. They include instructional resources, select iCivics games, and access to California’s Judges in the Classroom program, which enables teachers to request a virtual or in-person visit from a judge for their K-12 students.

Civic Learning Initiative Continues to Expand
For a decade, a committee of judges and educators has directed the California judicial branch’s civic learning initiative. In September 2023, committee chair Justice Judith McConnell presented the committee’s final report that included a roadmap for the judicial branch to continue its efforts and to bring civics into more parts of the state.

Effective Feb. 1, Chief Justice Guerrero called on Justice McConnell to continue her leadership role, appointing her chair of a new version of the initiative titled the Judicial Branch Power of Democracy Civic Learning Initiative, whose goal will be “to inspire courts to connect with their communities and educate the public about the three branches of government, with a focus on the judicial branch.”

“I want to see the programs and resources developed by the Power of Democracy Steering Committee made available to bolster current court outreach efforts," said Chief Justice Guerrero. “And I want to offer support for courts developing outreach efforts by providing a community they can turn to for help.”

Chief Justice Guerrero appointed Santa Clara County Judge Julia Alloggiamento to vice-chair the newly reformed initiative. Judge Alloggiamento, who served on the original steering committee for the civic learning initiative, is recognized for her productive relationships with schools and students in the Santa Clara community. She founded that court’s outreach committee 12 years ago and serves as its chair.

“Thanks to remote technology, our judges can take an hour to connect with a classroom a 100 miles away without leaving their chambers,” said Justice McConnell. “That’s one big shift working in our favor. And we have courts with leaders learning from other judges like Judge Alloggiamento on ways to do outreach as judges are required to do.”

Administrative Presiding Justice Judith McConnell, Chair, Judicial Branch Power of Democracy Civic Learning Initiative

Justice McConnell recently celebrated 20 years of service as the lead justice of the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District. In addition to her work on the bench, she served on the Commission on Impartial Courts and the K-12 Task Force on Civics Education, which led to her appointment as chair of the original Power of Democracy Steering Committee in 2013. Her appointment was announced at the judicial branch’s first Civic Learning Summit, headlined by iCivics founder and former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Justice McConnell would dedicate the next decade to directing the Power of Democracy Steering Committee and its civic learning initiative, which helped spur the state’s executive branch to further prioritize civics education. During its 10-year run, the committee contributed to the State Seal of Civic Engagement criteria, piloted the State of Washington’s Judges in the Classroom program before adopting it statewide, and established the competitive Civic Learning Awards program. View timeline

Judge Julia Alloggiamento, Vice Chair, Judicial Branch Power of Democracy Civic Learning Initiative

When Santa Clara County Judge Alloggiamento isn’t in court, she’s in the community, hosting teachers and students, or posting on social media about the importance of judicial outreach. During the pandemic, a phone call introduced her to Justice McConnell and the work of the original steering committee. In return, she shared the work of the Santa Clara County Court Outreach Committee, which she has chaired since 2012.

In 2022, Judge Alloggiamento was appointed to an official seat on the steering committee, where she advocated for judicial outreach, and the importance of a court-based body of volunteers to direct court outreach programs. Today, Judge Alloggiamento has a waiting list for schools wanting to connect with the court’s Color of Justice, Young Women’s Power Lunch, Educators Day, Read Across America, Law Day events, and other programs.

Visit to learn more about the Power of Democracy.