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Eagleton Institute of Politics
Eagleton Institute of Politics


school busState House Express

A small grants program to enhance civics education
for middle- and high-school students in New Jersey

The program provides $300 grant awards to eligible middle-school and high-school teachers of government, civics, history, and other social studies classes. The grants are designed to help pay for bus rental costs to take classes on field trips to the State House in Trenton for special guided tours and  first-hand examination of the legislature’s role in our system of representative democracy.

The State House Express program, now in its eigth year, is funded by the New Jersey Legislature and is administered by the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University in collaboration with the Office of Legislative Services at the State House in Trenton.

Read/print the announcement with details on the program here.

The special tours developed by the Office of Legislative Services for Eagleton’s State House Express help all students, especially those in  government, civics and history courses, learn about the lawmaking process. The tour focuses on the legislature as an arena where different public values, interests, and priorities are deliberated and negotiated and where settlements are reached.

The goal of the tour is to teach students about the legislature's role in representative democracy and encourage civic participation in the American political system. On a typical tour students will see the rotunda, Governor's reception room, General Assembly, and Senate caucus room. Students may also participate in a "make-a-law" exercise where they will learn about the roles of discussion, negotiation, compromise and voting in the enactment of legislation. They may also engage with several multimedia exhibits located in the State House Welcome Center, time permitting. Each teacher will be asked to fill out an evaluation form at the conclusion of the tour.

Please note: The State House is a working office building subject to periodic unannounced room closings, so tour routes may be altered. While room closings are more likely to occur on Mondays and Thursdays when the legislature is in session, the building is often more active and vibrant on those days.

Assembly chamber
New Jersey State Assembly Chamber

Teachers may submit applications for the 2012-13 program to Eagleton at any time during the academic year. Awards are made on a rolling basis, with decisions made as soon as the applications are received.

Eligibility criteria are as follows:
Awards are designated for students in grades 6 through 12.
Classes visiting the State House must consist of a minimum of 25 students.
All tours must be scheduled and completed during the 2012-2013 academic year (September 2012-June 2013).
All teachers of students in grades 6-12 in public and private schools are encouraged to apply, including those who have received awards in the past. Individual teachers are eligible each year. In special circumstances, separate grants may be awarded to different teachers in the same school.
Other school groups or organizations who do not meet the exact criteria specified above may also apply and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

2012-13 Application available to mail or fax (pdf file)
2012-13 Application available to email (Word file)
Substitute W-9 Form
(Word file)


Teachers who receive grant awards contact the Tour Office at the Office of Legislative Services in Trenton to schedule their class tours. The office can be reached at (609) 633-2709. It is assumed the group has permission of school and/or district authorities to participate in the trip.

When contacting the Tour Office, teachers must specify that they are a State House Express grant recipient. The tour program runs about two hours but may be shortened on request. Tours are subject to availability and limited to fifty people per tour (including chaperones). The Tour Office will notify the school district’s legislators of the scheduled visit but it is the teacher/school’s responsibility to contact the Legislator to request a meeting or to make special arrangements.

The Governor and Legislators do not routinely meet with tour groups unless arrangements are made by the school in advance.

For further information, contact:
Gloria Minor
Eagleton Institute of Politics
Rutgers University
191 Ryders Lane
New Brunswick NJ 08901
732-932-9384 ext 245
gminor @

Senate chamber
New Jersey State Senate Chamber