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Where Does My Money Go?,

Auditor of Public Accounts

This website is a user-friendly database of information about the state budget, as well as demographic information about different localities. On the main page, a pie chart provides a breakdown of the top ten appropriations in 2007. Users can search for information about how much local governments received in appropriations, how many driver’s licenses were issued in each locality, and comparisons between budgets for different localities. Each data set is available in excel format, in case users want to create their own graphs or another analysis of it. This website is extremely easy to navigate, and offers a wealth of information about Virginia’s budget.

Virginia Service,

Virginia Office of Volunteerism and Community Service

Virginia Service is a portal for volunteer opportunities run by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Hands-on volunteering opportunities are an excellent way for students to learn about civic duty and good citizenship. In addition to a search feature of available volunteering opportunities, Virginia Service also describes some academic benefits of volunteering.

Political Activity for Public Servants (Hatch Act),

U.S. Office of Special Counsel

These Hatch Act guidelines outline the legal restrictions placed on government employees’ involvement in political activities. This website is aimed at state, federal, and local government officials, and it offers a window into potentially problematic areas of government. How may state and federal officials participate in political campaigns? When does it become a conflict of interest? These questions and more could form the basis of a classroom discussion or a research project.

Virginia Public Access Project,

VPAP

The Virginia Public Access Project is a non-profit, non-partisan organization which strives to provide information to the public about Virginia campaign donations through computer technology. Their website offers maps of where legislator’s donations come from, the size of their donations, and lists of contributors. There is also information on lobbyists, donors, vendors, and committees. In addition to using the wealth of information on this site, students may benefit from comparing it to the Virginia State Board of Elections Campaign Finance Website. How does a private group’s portrayal of campaign financing differ from the government website?

GovSpot: Virginia State Government Agencies,

GovSpot.com

GovSpot.com offers an index of Virginia government websites. Categories include branches of government, government agencies, elections, law, licenses, taxes, and travel. Although not eye-catching, this list is an excellent resource for anyone doing research on different aspects of government.

Virginia Voter Registration,

Virginia State Board of Elections

The Virginia State Board of Elections publishes voter registration information. Eligible citizens can use this site to register to vote, and get involved in the political process. Even those who can’t vote may use this website as a way to encourage friends of family members to vote.

Virginia Campaign Finance Website,

Virginia State Board of Elections

This website offers government-mandated disclosure information for campaign finance contributions to candidates for Virginia state and local elections. Members of the public can view sometimes-surprising information about who made large contributions to Virginia candidates and political committees. PACs range from the Cigar Association of Virginia to the Virginia Taxicab Association. This website raises questions about the role of PACs and campaign finance, and can lead to discussions of these issues.

U.S. Census Educational Resources,

U.S. Census Bureau

This website from the U.S. Census Bureau has a series of educational materials related to use of the U.S. Census, including maps, community involvement, and data (in pdf format). There are also lesson plans for each section (in ASCII format) that offer guides on how to use these materials in the classroom. State Facts also offers a page on Virginia with more unusual data, such as the number of amusement parks. This website offers a window into how the Census works, and gives ideas on how that data might be used in government decision-making processes.

Capitol Classroom: Games,

Virginia General Assembly

Capitol Classroom’s Games is a series of printable classroom games and classroom activities for students in grades K-12. Many games for younger students can be adapted for an older audience. A particularly relevant activity for older students is the Civics I.Q. test, which quizzes users on their participation in different levels of their civic involvement. This game shows that civic involvement is more than just voting in an election.

Virginia General Assembly Homepage,

Virginia General Assembly

This website offers a diverse array of information about the Commonwealth’s legislative branch: live audio and video streams of House and Senate chamber discussions, a guide to contacting your legislator, and information on visiting the Capitol. It is also a portal for Capitol Classroom, an educational resource about the Virginia General Assembly. The website provides core information on the General Assembly, and is a good jumping-off point for further study.