You’ve likely heard the underwhelming statistics of voter turnout for eligible Americans. Turnout for the 2020 presidential election reached an all-time high: 66.8% of citizens 18 years and older. For midterm, state, and local elections, the numbers are often much lower and, sadly, getting worse.

Political scientists have analyzed declining engagement for years and come up with a variety of possible reasons for why this might be. The University of Texas at Austin suggested that major obstacles to civic engagement included these: civility and civil skills. The idea being, of course, that very few people enjoy the tension of heated debates, one, and two, that even the engaged citizen needs knowledge and tools to participate wholly. With only 40% of Americans able to correctly name the three branches of government, and 20% unable to name a single one (as of 2019), I would say that’s an accurate conjecture. (In 2020, the first number rose to an “unusually high” 51%.)

Are Americans doomed, then, to lack of engagement? To political apathy, holding bitterness but not taking action?

Maybe not.

That’s where the Policy Circle comes in.

Seeking to solve the problems of political incivility and lack of civil skills alike, the Policy Circle brings women together to discuss issues of public policy in small groups. Often covering policy briefs through meaningful conversation, ladies are encouraged to voice their opinions and learn from each other.

Aiming to dive deeper into education and equipping, however, the Policy Circle recently launched a course to educate and inform in an all-new sphere. According to their website, “the Civic Leadership Engagement Roadmap (CLER) is a proprietary, experiential leadership program that takes women from having general civic knowledge to becoming civic leaders.” This three-month program takes women who are hungry for involvement (but who may not know where to start), giving them tools and resources to feel confident and connected within their local communities.

I participated in the program this summer—and everyone I’ve spoken to has agreed the time has flown! My biggest takeaway has been from the other ladies I’ve sat in on Zoom calls with: the passion, purpose, excitement, and love they carry for their local governments and communities. I’m sure we don’t agree on everything politically, but we’re there for a common cause.

It gives me hope.

Proverbs 31, most well-known as the ‘virtuous woman’ passage, has a verse that, when read in most translations, says something along the lines of making yarn and applying one’s fingers to the spindle. But this verse in The Passion Translation (interpreting the symbols as they would have been seen in the original readers’ eyes) reads differently. It says this: “She … lays hold of the wheels of government.”

Through CLER and through IWF, I can’t help but read that and smile. There is an army of women rising up about whom that can be said. She lays hold of the wheels of government. And, perhaps, she’s steadily turning them.

As we have on our About page, IWF works every day to engage and inform women about how policy issues impact them and their loved ones—unto healthy communities and expanding opportunities. IWF is all about women being vocal in public policy—and championing women—so, of course, we encourage and applaud efforts to bring (especially conservative) women into the policy sector and raise them up in knowledge and confidence to participate, engage, vote, run, and even win.

CLER applications are now open for fall 2021, for interested individuals. The program will run from September 1st to November 30th and is limited to 30 women. Desiring “facts, not politics,” CLER participants will walk through the basics of America’s founding principles, learn the facets of local government, participate in civic meetings and projects, discuss policy briefs in small cohorts, and receive one-on-one sessions with the course director.

August 13th is the deadline to apply for fall. Learn more here.

P.S. Read my profile and those of the summer 2021 cohort!