As we gear up for the 2012 election, civic engagement is as important and relevant as ever. And it looks good: a recent report conducted by CIRCLE, which is part of Tuft University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, revealed that three-quarters of youth between the ages of 18 to 29 were involved in either politics or the community in 2010.
However, the depth of engagement was diverse, and the percentage of those who were very involved in politics or the community is low. In 2010:
• The Broadly Engaged (21% of youth) fill many different leadership roles;
• The Political Specialists (18%) are focused on voting and other forms of political activism;
• The Donors (11%) give money but do little else;
• The Under-Mobilized (14%) were registered to vote in 2010 but did not actually vote or participate actively;
• The Talkers (13%) report discussing political issues and are avid communicators online, but do not take action otherwise; and
• The Civically Alienated (23%) hardly engage at all.
Reasons for these results include poorer communities and new immigrants being less lively to be engaged. If the gap in civic engagement can be filled, youth can power their communities and make lasting social change. Creative programs being run by organizations – such as Do Something, Wellstone Action, and the organization I work at, entrepreneurshipEDGE – go some way in filling this gap (soon we will be running the Launching A Campaign Intensive, an event that teaches participants how to run effective campaigns – for more information and registration, visit: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/2406806824/eorg).
You, too, can help run this gap – join organizations like the ones listed above, mobilize communities, and get the word out on important issues. And vote in the 2012 election – the people shall decide who will be our next President.