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What does it mean to be an American? What are the ideals that our nation stands for? Who were the people who made America what it is – the statesmen, soldiers, pioneers, inventors, reformers, and entrepreneurs?
Too few people know answers to those important questions. Six major national polls reveal a shocking ignorance of even basic facts about American history and government, especially among the next generation.
The American Heritage Society will have a significant impact in reversing this trend by continuing to tell the American story to millions of people around the world. Our programs will remind Americans that we are bound together by our shared heritage and values.
The Society will make nationally significant contributions in the following program areas:
1. Telling the American Story.
To reverse the decline in knowledge about our nation, the Society will offer a wide range of digital initiatives and publications designed to expand knowledge about the American experience. For over 60 years, American Heritage has been the preeminent magazine in the field, widely respected for its scholarship, broad appeal, and nonpartisan approach. Its sister publication, Invention & Technology is the only popular magazine dedicated to the history of invention and innovation. After acquiring the subscriber lists and other assets of the former American Heritage Publishing Co., the Society will pursue important initiatives to attract wide audiences and create a national historical organization with over 200,000 members at its inception. Using innovative digital strategies it will develop educational programs impacting millions of students, bring in new revenues to sustain operations, and further its mission of informing Americans about their shared heritage.
2. Engaging the Next Generation.
Students are too often undereducated about American history and not sufficiently prepared for college and careers. Our new Fourscore educational system (4score.org) is dedicated to advancing the teaching of American history and English Language Arts for public, private, and home school instruction. Funded by a generous grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, this online resource aims to be the most widely used system for teaching American history by offering free access to thousands of essays written by prominent historians, along with primary documents, images, and artifacts aggregated from archives and museums across the country. Hundreds of pre-bundled packages of resources will be available for easy implementation in the classroom, aligned to Common Core State Standards and the new national C3 Framework for teaching history and social studies. This highly innovative system will have significantly more features than any other source of history education.
3. Encouraging American Innovation and Promoting STEM Education and Careers.
America needs to reawaken the spirit of innovation that made it great. Too many students don’t understand what engineers do and fail to pursue careers in STEM fields. This has led to a serious “skills gap” for 9 out of 10 companies in America, according to a recent survey by IBM. To address these issues, the Society is repurposing content from Invention & Technology into a platform that will promote STEM education and careers. The Innovation Gateway will include 25 years of articles, produce new content, and encourage conversation and interaction among users, especially students. It will centralize information on nearly a thousand landmarks and milestones named by the leading engineering societies, from early steam engines to the development of radar, computers, LCDs and lasers. The platform will also highlight the work of professionals involved in these accomplishments. The Innovation Gateway will correct common misconceptions that exist around STEM careers, centralize available resources, and play a leading role in the development of our nation’s future workforce.
4. The National Center for History and Heritage
The Society plans to be headquartered in a new Center for American History and Heritage, located in Washington, DC. The Center will help to rally support for important initiatives in the history field. The Society will conduct surveys, hold press conferences, and testify at public hearings—backed up by the clout of hundreds of thousands of Society members. It will partner with other leading history organizations to offer conferences, seminars, and tours across the country, and house the Society’s 300,000-item archives and library.
For 60 years, American Heritage has been a nonpartisan and widely respected source of information about the American experience. The new Society is committed to continue telling our nation’s story as it unfolds, while working to improve our nation’s future and help millions of students and educators. The excellent reputation of American Heritage, large national audience, and innovative educational initiatives will enable it to achieve sustainability given adequate resources.