Citizens are often distrustful of their leadership and civically disengaged. In response to a citizenry that is tuned out, leaders make decisions that fail to respond to a diverse constituency, and a vicious cycle ensues, wherein citizens become even less motivated to get involved. This cycle of civic disengagement can be particularly pronounced among youth. Young people, while idealistic and seeking change in our society, do not see politics as the answer, and turn away from an increasingly dysfunctional government. In turn, our elected officials and institutions are not paying enough attention to young people.
Generation Citizen believes this problem starts in the classroom, and the solution starts in our classroom.
While studying at Brown University, Co-founder Scott Warren recognised that Americans (especially youth) lacked the democratic spirit he had witnessed in parts of the developing world. Because citizens aren’t making their voices heard, our government only responds to a small subset of the citizenry. He started Generation Citizen (GC) in his senior year to teach young people the skills to participate in our democracy.
Does it work?
Generation Citizen have carried out extensive research on its program, some of the results:
70% of student demonstrate an increase in civic knowledge: A student’s ability to grasp basic civic knowledge taught throughout the course. This includes understanding the governmental process and its basic players.
72% of student demonstrate an increase in civic skills: A student’s ability to effectively participate in the political process. This includes oral/written persuasive communication, group-work, and critical thinking.
67% of student demonstrate an increase in civic motivation: A student’s desire to actively participate in the political process and take action on issues they care about. This includes actual behaviours, like voting and volunteering.
83% of teachers report GC aligned and supported school priorities.