Civic Engagement

25th Anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Unites Americans in National Day of Service

Monday, January 17, 2011 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday. Across the country, Americans will answer Dr. King’s call to action: “What are you doing for others?” by joining in volunteer efforts to serve their neighbors and communities.

AmeriCorps NCCC: Strengthening Communities and Developing Leaders

The National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) is one of the three programs that form AmeriCorps, a network of national service programs that engage Americans in service to address critical community needs within the United States. AmeriCorps NCCC is a full-time, team-based residential program for men and women ages 18-25.

"A Day On, Not a Day Off!"

Since 1994, the Corporation for National and Community Service has worked with the King Center in Atlanta to promote the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday as a day of service: "A Day On, Not a Day Off!"

King Day is a day to connect service to the social justice issues that Dr. King fought for throughout his life.

How much do you know about…4-H and Positive Youth Development?

  • 4-H provides opportunities for youth development and for youth to develop skills, practical knowledge, and wisdom through observing, doing, and living through experiences.
  • The 4 H's are Head, Heart, Hands, and Health.
  • 4-H emphasizes the practical application of knowledge or "learning by doing" to develop skills and acquire a sense of responsibility, initiative, and self-worth.

Martin Luther King Day of Service-2012

The Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday is a National Day of Service, and a time to re-commit ourselves to serving each other and our communities. This year, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) will shine a spotlight on the connection between service and economic opportunity.

Martin Luther King Day of Service-2014

The Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday is a National Day of Service, and a time to re-commit ourselves to serving each other and our communities. With the theme “MLK Day: Citizenship and Service in Action,” the Martin Luther King Day of Service provides an opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds to participate in service events that make a difference in their communities.

September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance

The September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance is the culmination of an effort originally launched in 2002 by 9/11 family members and support groups who worked to establish the charitable service day as a forward-looking way to honor the sacrifice of those who were lost and those who united in response to the tragedy.

Washington State Youth Take Civic Activism To New Level

photo of Sierra"I don't think anyone should have to go through what a lot of kids face; I've been taking care of my mom since I was ten," says Sierra, a student facing family mental health issues, who attends school in a Spokane dropout retrieval program.

"And life isn't fair, but you have to learn how to deal with it anyways. All the life problems outside the school doors come first before we are going to read a textbook."

Civic Engagement

Civic engagement involves “working to make a difference in the civic life of one’s community and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes” (Erlich, 2000). Civic engagement includes both paid and unpaid forms of political activism, environmentalism, and community and national service (Michelson et al, 2002). Volunteering is one form of civic engagement.

Many of the nation’s volunteers are young people. More than half (59 percent) of teenagers in the United States reported that they participated in youth volunteer work in 2009, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service (2010). Most youth volunteers do so out of altruism and an interest in making in a difference in the lives of others, according to one survey. Only five percent of students reportedly volunteered because of a school requirement (Corporation for National and Community Service, 2005).

References

Corporation for National and Community Service. (2010a). Youth engaged in service.

Corporation for National and Community Service. (2005). Building active citizens: The role of social institutions in teen volunteering. Brief 1 in the Youth Helping America series. Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://www.nationalservice.gov/pdf/05_1130_LSA_YHA_study.pdf (PDF, 24 Pages)

Erlich, T. (2000). Civic responsibility and higher education. Westport, CT: Oryx Press.

Michelsen, E., Zaff, J. F., & Hair, E. C. (2002). Civic engagement programs and youth development: A synthesis. Washington, DC: Child Trends. Retrieved from  http://www.issuelab.org/resource/civic_engagement_programs_and_youth_development_a_synthesis (PDF, 51 Pages)

Stone, B. & Edwards, H. (2008). National framework for 4-H Volunteerism. National 4-H Headquarters, Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Services, United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved from http://oklahoma4h.okstate.edu/focus/2008/november/attachments/Framework_4-H_Volunteerism082508.pdf (PDF, 10 Pages)

Positive Youth Development

Positive Experiences + Positive Relationships + Positive Environments = Positive Youth Development

Based on the literature, the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs, a collaboration of 20 federal departments and agencies that support youth, has created the following definition of positive youth development (PYD):

PYD is an intentional, prosocial approach that engages youth within their communities, schools, organizations, peer groups, and families in a manner that is productive and constructive; recognizes, utilizes, and enhances young people’s strengths; and promotes positive outcomes for young people by providing opportunities, fostering positive relationships, and furnishing the support needed to build on their leadership strengths.

The Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs developed a research agenda focused on positive youth development. Through a collaborative consensus-building process, representatives from federal agencies identified three research domains (conceptual issues, data sources and indicators, and program implementation and effectiveness) and key research questions that could benefit from future research.

PYD has its origins in the field of prevention. In the past, prevention efforts typically focused on single problems before they surfaced in youth, such as teen pregnancy, substance abuse, and juvenile delinquency.

Over time, practitioners, policymakers, funders, and researchers determined that promoting positive asset building and considering young people as resources were critical strategies. As a result, the youth development field began examining the role of resiliency — the protective factors in a young person's environment — and how these factors could influence one's ability to overcome adversity. Those factors included, but were not limited to, family support and monitoring; caring adults; positive peer groups; strong sense of self, self-esteem, and future aspirations; and engagement in school and community activities.

Researchers and practitioners began to report that young people who possess a diverse set of protective factors can, in fact, experience more positive outcomes. These findings encouraged the development of interventions and programs that reduce risks and strengthen protective factors. The programs and interventions are strengthened when they involve and engage youth as equal partners, ultimately providing benefits for both for the program and the involved youth.