GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A civics bee coming to Grand Rapids is aiming to create active and informed citizens.

The Grand Rapids Chamber will be hosting the regional National Civics Bee on April 16, 2024, at Frederik Meijer Gardens. It’s the first year the chamber is hosting the bee, in partnership with The Civic Trust of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Andy Johnston, the senior vice president of advocacy and strategic engagement for the chamber, said events like the National Civics Bee are important as the country becomes more divided.

“One of the things we’re feeling is that the country and our communities are increasingly divided and the need to reinforce civics, support our institutions, create an informed and engaged citizenry is really important to our future success,” Johnston said. “As things become more divided, a lot of people want to pull back. We want to educate the future about the importance of civics and our institutions.”

He added that in a “well-functioning society,” it’s critical for citizens to have a good understanding of how the government works.

All West Michigan middle school students, in public, private, charter or home schools, can submit a 500-word essay for the first round. Submissions will be open from Nov. 13 to Jan. 8.

A panel of judges will select the top 20 students to move on to the live civics bee, where students will compete for cash prizes and the chance to advance to the inaugural Michigan Bee in Lansing on July 17.

Winners at the Michigan Bee will advance to the National Championship Bee in Washington D.C., where more than $50,000 in prizes is up for grabs.

Johnston said they’ve heard a lot of interest from businesses and community leaders as they work to get the word out.

“As long as you’re (a) 6th, 7th and 8th grader, we would love to see your essay,” he said. “If you know of a social studies teacher that would be all about this, please let them know, and we’re looking to make it a success.”

Also participating in the National Civics Bee this year is the Battle Creek Area Chamber of Commerce and the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to be part of the 2024 National Civics Bee,” Kara Beer,
president & CEO of the Battle Creek Area Chamber of Commerce, said in a release. “Our communities prosper when our citizens are engaged and participating, especially in an ever-changing economy. We can’t wait to see what ideas and solutions our area students share.”

For more information, go to You can also test your civics knowledge at