Kid Governors Are Little Leslie Knopes in Training

Maressa Brown

In an election year, kids are bound to be even more exposed to politics than usual. But even when students don't have debates to watch or mock presidential elections to vote in, educators are committed to getting young people interested and involved in civics. One way fifth grade teachers in Connecticut, Oregon, and New Hampshire are doing this is through a program called Kid Governor.

Here's the scoop on this award-winning national civics program for fifth graders.

How Kid Governor Started

Created by the nonprofit Connecticut Democracy Center (CTDC) in 2015 and timed to coincide with Election Day, the program aims to teach kids about state government, voting, and the importance of civic participation through an immersive and authentic election for a Kid Governor.

Since its launch, Kid Governor has expanded into multiple states. The Oregon Secretary of State’s Office and the New Hampshire Institute for Civics Education and New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College also run their respective state programs, according to Brian Cofrancesco, Head of Kid Governor for The Connecticut Democracy Center

How Kid Governor Works

Registered schools are given the chance to enter one student candidate into an state-wide Kid Governor election for fifth graders. "Fifth graders identify important issues in their communities, research those issues, create meaningful action plans for change, and make campaign videos," notes Cofrancesco.

The campaign videos outline:

  • Why they want to be their state’s Kid Governor

  • Their leadership qualities and skills

  • A community issue that they want to address and why it’s important

  • A three-point plan that will help fifth graders across their state make a difference on that issue

The program also provides teachers with in-class lessons that guide everyone through the process. After reviewing schools' nominees, an Advisory Committee of civics and education professionals chooses seven final candidates, and their videos are posted online.

Once a Kid Governor is elected by each state, they serve a one-year term of leadership and advocacy. They create videos to share with constituents and other students about his/her community issue, maintain a blog about his/her community issue and actions being taken by students around the state, meet and speak with students and adults across the state, participate in programs with their state’s Kid Governor affiliate program, and have a special Kid Governor Office.

Kid Governor's Big Picture Goal

“The Kid Governor program teaches fifth graders about civics and empowers them to make a difference in their communities," says Cofrancesco. "Whether they are voters in their state's election, candidates for office, or the elected Kid Governor, participants learn the importance of being active and engaged citizens now and when they are adults. Our team recognizes how committed our nation's fifth graders are to improving their communities and the world, and we are proud to provide Kid Governor as a platform for students to make their voices heard."

What's Next

Stay tuned on Kid Governor's Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, as the program will be kicking 2020 off right by inaugurating the three Kid Governors who were elected in November and live streaming their ceremonies, Cofrancesco notes.

If you would like to bring the Kid Governor program to your state, head to or email