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).
Corporation for National and Community Service. (2010a). Youth engaged in service. Retrieved from http://www.presidentialserviceawards.gov/yes/index.html
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)
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While youth are more likely to register to vote in school, only about 1 in 10 of them does.