Civics Day: Elevating the Voices of the Rising Generation

Civics Day: Elevating the Voices of the Rising Generation
Civics Day: Elevating the Voices of the Rising Generation

Written by Generation Citizen Associate Director of Alumni & Youth Voice, Dairanys Grullon-Virgil

Every semester, Generation Citizen (GC) students culminate their Action Civics experience with the celebration of Civics Day. Civics Day allows GC’s youth to present their real-world action civic projects to community advisors, fellow students, business leaders, and public officials. It is a space that embraces youth voice by bringing together an intergenerational network of people interested in actualizing the policy solutions offered by our students. At a time when comprehensive, experiential civics education is under attack, events like Civics Day are an indispensable opportunity to support the leadership development and public confidence of youth as active actors in our society

At Civics Day, GC’s students can directly offer real solutions to real community issues to elected officials. One key component of Civics Day is inviting elected officials to these events so they can hear directly from the youth. During Civics Learning Week (March 11th-15th, 2024), we hosted a 60-minute virtual youth forum focused on the state of civics education for Gen-Z in the United States. During the forum, participants indicated the need for civic education to prepare young people to influence and participate in state and local government. For example, youth noted the need to work more closely with the district to implement civic courses geared towards policy solutions learned in the classroom and then applied in government. 

Based on our values-driven commitment to equip and inspire young people to transform our democracy during an election year, Generation Citizen launched RISE Vote 2024, a nonpartisan voter activation initiative that is focused on registering, informing, supporting, and empowering youth beyond the 2024 election cycle. Based on research and more than 13 years of experience supporting over 150,000 students in the classroom, we know that when young people have access to culturally relevant civic education — one in which their voices and lived experiences are heard and valued —they are far likelier to become lifelong engaged citizens.

Research recently conducted by Harvard’s Institute of Politics and the Institute of Citizens and Scholars has found that 18-30-year-olds exhibit profound concern about the state of our democracy, marginal attachment to either of America’s two major political parties and a fraying sense of confidence in their capacity to shape their civic futures. Additionally, CIRCLE’s most recent research indicates that “students who had not received encouragement to vote from teachers in high school were more than twice as likely to agree with the statement “Voting is a waste of time” as those who had been encouraged: 26% vs. 12%. RISE Vote 2024 directly addresses this issue, based on the recognition that voting is one tool in the civic toolbox that young people can use to build the public life they want to see. The research also indicates that nonpartisan how-to-vote training, voter registration deadline reminders, and nonpartisan voter guides are often effective components of successful get-out-to-vote efforts. Additionally, the youth stated an interest in meeting candidates or official campaign representatives in person. 

As part of the RISE 2024 campaign, Generation Citizen partnered with nonpartisan organizations nationwide to support pre-registration and registration to vote efforts during our Civics Days. Some of our partners include organizations like The Links in New York City, The Secretary of State’s Office in Rhode Island, and The League of Women Voters in Boston. In addition to voter registration and pre-registration, Generation Citizen is committed to youth activation beyond the election cycle. To carry out this commitment, we are excited to implement two further initiatives of RISE Vote 2024. The first initiative is My First Vote, a digital campaign that highlights the importance of focusing on community issues and uplifting the value of civic participation. 

Additionally, we will engage in a process called future forecasting, where our emerging leaders will focus on the future and the type of democracy they want to develop based on the issues that they select. To equip our youth leaders with skills of planning and envisioning their preferred pathways for public life, we will train them in the civic skill of future forecasting with an eye towards the kind of democracy that they want to inhabit in 2042. Within and across election cycles and within classrooms and our communities, Generation Citizen continues to work at the forefront of community-based civics education with the goal of amplifying the youth voices across the United States.

We hope that you will join us in RISE Vote 2024 and other youth voice initiatives as we carry forward this urgently needed work.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *