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About the Illinois First Amendment Center (IFAC)

Mission

The Mission of the Illinois First Amendment Center is to promote First Amendment rights and responsibilities through education designed to raise awareness of the need to understand, preserve and protect the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

History

In January 2005, the Knight Foundation released results from a two-year survey it had conducted at 544 high schools across the country involving more than 100,000 students regarding their understanding of, and attitudes about, the First Amendment. Some alarming findings came out of this survey indicating that teens lacked an appreciation and understanding of the First Amendment. In May of 2005, Congress mandated that every school and college that receives federal money must teach about the Constitution on September 17 of each year — the day the document was adopted in 1787. This mandate covers kindergarten through college. As a direct result of the Knight Foundation survey results and the federal mandate, IFAC set out to create a variety of meaningful educational materials for Kindergarten through 12th grade.

The Illinois First Amendment Center began as a program of the Illinois Press Foundation but became its own 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation in 2005. In March 2005, the IFAC sponsored a curriculum development conference during which 16 Illinois teachers joined together to create a new comprehensive First Amendment curriculum guide. In 2006, a similar conference was held to create a guide for grades 5, 6 and 7. Also in 2006, the IFAC developed its First Amendment video, 5 separate coloring books (one book for each of grades K — 4), flash cards and posters for the elementary grades. In 2007, the IFAC added a First Amendment video for grades 9 — 12, and translated all of its print materials into Spanish. In 2008 and 2009, IFAC produced the winning posters from its High School First Amendment Poster Contest.

View all of the FREE materials that are available to order from this Web site (nominal shipping and handling fees apply).

In 2008, the IFAC held its first annual Teacher Resource Fair, a free professional development opportunity for Illinois teachers. The IFAC also offers two annual contests for Illinois high schools including the First Amendment Poster Contest and the High School Newspaper Contest.