The Center for American Politics and Citizenship was founded in 1999 by Professor Paul Herrnson after he received a grant from Pew Charitable Trusts. The CAPC Advisory Board was formed shortly thereafter in coordination with Professor Herrnson and the assistance of Dean Irwin Goldstein. Then GVPT chair Jonathon Wilkenfield helped provide the rationale for moving beyond a typical professor-directed research project to the creation of a center that would provide research, education, and outreach opportunities to students, elected officials, other policymakers, and the public. One of the major goals CAPC sought to achieve was to raise GVPT's and BSOS's profiles on campus and the university's profile, more generally, in ways that an incremental improvement in GVPT's rankings could not.
Contemporarily, the Center continues the mission of providing research, education, and outreach to a broad number of constituency groups while developing students that are uniquely positioned to make an impact on the political world in future generations.