The partnership announced Sunday includes the GIVE 150 program, which encourages private contributions to The Civil War Trust and the National Park Foundation, the fundraising arm of the National Park Service. History will match up to $150,000 in contributions.
The classroom element involves several approaches intended to inform and educate American students about the Civil War. They include a Civil War Educator's Manual with suggested teaching approaches and 160,000 classroom email dispatches every week.
"We owe it to our national memory, we owe it to ourselves, we owe it to our children's children's children," said Nancy Dubuc, president and general manager for the network. "This is integral to what we do."
Public service announcements will direct History's viewers to online giving opportunities.
Preservationists welcome the fundraising assist as Civil War battlefields are rapidly consumed by commercial development.
"Heavens, yes," said James Lighthizer, president of the Civil War Trust, America's largest nonprofit devoted to the preservation of endangered battlefields. "Even in a down economy, there's tremendous pressures on this land. We lose more than we save."
History announced a commitment to Civil War-themed programming earlier this spring, including "Gettysburg," a two-hour feature documentary. It will be produced by the filmmakers and brothers Tony and Ridley Scott. Each has directed multiple box office successes, including "Top Gun" for Tony Scott and "Gladiator" for Ridley Scott.
History's educational layers were assembled with the help of consultants such as Paul LaRue, a self-described "Civil War geek" who teaches social studies in grades 9-12 in Washington Courthouse, Ohio.
"What I think it will do is re-engage students about one of the great events in our history," said LaRue.
LaRue, who is marking his 26th year in the classroom, got his students to study Capt. John Bell, who fought for the North and drowned when his boat overturned in West Virginia's Kanawha River in Nov. 16, 1861. His body eventually was returned to Ohio in a metal coffin.
LaRue led his students to his gravestone where they used ground-penetrating radar to find the outline of the coffin. "They got juiced about it," LaRue said of his students.
History's educational campaign also includes:
n Original video shorts with historians on Civil War topics, available online.
n "Gettysburg: Their Sacrifice Made America," a poster and teachers' guide mailed to 34,000 middle and high schools nationwide.
n An electronic field trip webcast organized with the National Park Foundation.
A Civil War iPad app will allow users to experience the war as it unfolded, beginning with the first shots fired at Fort Sumter. It also will include original documents, news reports from the era and photos.
Civil War Trust: http://www.civilwar.org