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What is Youth Civic Engagement?

Civic engagement can be broadly defined as individual and collective actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern (Source: Michael Delli Carpini, Director, Public Policy, The Pew Charitable Trusts).  Individuals are civically engaged when they recognize they hold responsibility not just to themselves, but to their community as well.

Civic engagement can play an important role for youth in their overall development. Young people develop critical skills and experiences through actively participating within their community. Civic engagement can solidify civic identities and political positions during a youth's transition to adulthood.

Civic engagement includes service while learning in educational settings as well as volunteerism, activism, advocacy, political participation, and more. Very few young people have opportunities to engage in civic leadership outside of the educational system.

(Source: "That's Not Democracy" and "Pathways Into Leadership")

While civic engagement is closely related to civic education, the two are not the same. Civic education prepares individuals for their roles as members of a community. It informs individuals about their rights, roles, and responsibilities. In other words, it is "the cultivation of the virtues, knowledge, and skills necessary for political participation."

(Source: Civic Education)
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Last Updated: 12/4/12