APS 2019 Student Initiative

APS 2019 Student Initiative:

Supporting future civil, fact-based public forums

by Ashley Beard-Fosnow, Executive Director, American Public Square 

To maintain the health of our democracy, we citizens must be able to have meaningful public conversations about challenging issues, and we must search for solutions to those issues together. At American Public Square, we commit to providing a forum for civil dialogue that encourages and supports thoughtful civic engagement. This is a commitment we hope to share with the next generation.

The American Public Square staff and I are thrilled to announce that we will be kicking off a new initiative for high school students throughout the Kansas City region this January. With the support of the McDonnell Foundation, Inc., Missouri Humanities Council, and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, the 2019 Student Initiative will facilitate exercises and provide curriculum to empower students to model civil behavior and respectful dialogue in their communities.

The presentations to students will include a model panel discussion addressing the controversial issue of race-based consideration in the college admission process. APS staff and volunteers and students will serve as panelists, moderators, roving reporters and fact checkers. After experiencing the approach that APS uses, a select group of students from Independence high schools will plan and implement their own APS-style event.

Students will identify the program topic and invite appropriate experts, market the event, construct a Fact Sheet, and coordinate other event logistics. This student-led program will take place on April 4, 2019 and will be open to the public.

Save the date and join the conversation!

Your attendance will help us encourage and teach students to become active members of society. While our main objective is to create and distribute a replicable model for civil, fact-based conversations about controversial issues, I am personally eager to engage young people in our mission. As we listen to and receive feedback from students in our community, I hope their insights and participation will improve our approach. Working side by side, I believe new and seasoned members of our APS community can lead the way in a national movement toward effective civic engagement.


Ashley Beard-Fosnow

You’re probably asking, “How can I help?”


Become a student membership sponsor! The H&R Block Foundation generously matches the cost of student memberships, so a gift of only $10 completely underwrites a student membership.

If you’d like to donate more than $10, you can sponsor more than one student membership. A student membership gift of $100, for example, will sponsor 10 students.