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Promote Youth Civic Engagement


How Can States Invest in Promoting Youth Civic Engagement?

Maximize Federal Funds

  • The Community Service Block Grant is a formula grant available to states through a Department of Health and Human Services application process.  Funds can be used, in part, for strengthening educational opportunities and providing services and activities that help low-income individuals achieve greater participation in the affairs of the community. Community Services Block Grant Discretionary Awards are discretionary project grants available to states that provide funding, in part, for programs designed to provide character building, sports and opportunities for physical fitness activities for low-income youth.
  • Learn and Serve America is a discretionary project grant that supports high quality service learning projects that engage students in meeting community needs with demonstrable results while enhancing students' academic and civic learning. Funds are used to support professional development of faculty and staff to conduct service-learning courses, projects or research. Funds may also support costs of projects that engage college students in service learning, which may include tutoring and mentoring, health outreach and education, primary and preventative health care, neighborhood clean-up and revitalization and gang violence and substance abuse prevention. Funds can be spent on youth development in order to provide: academic support, career exploration, character building, civic education, delinquency prevention, evaluation, leadership development, mentoring, planning, coordination, collaboration, recreation, fitness, substance abuse services, system building services, technical assistance and training, vocational training and community service.
  • The National Guard ChalleNGe program conducts a National Guard civilian youth opportunities program. The program uses the National Guard to provide military-based training, including supervised work experience in community service and conservation projects. The program focuses on civilian youth, aged 16 to 18, who have dropped-out of high school in an effort to improve their life skills and employment potential. It is the responsibility of a state’s governor to establish, organize and administer the ChalleNGe program. Funds can be used, in part, to provide academic support, career exploration, character building, civic education, GED classes, adult basic education, job placement, leadership development and vocational education.
  • The Work Investment Act (WIA) Youth Activities Program is formula block grant that includes a coordinated system to help low-income young people between the ages of 14 and 21 define their educational and career goals. Service strategies, developed by workforce providers, prepare youth for employment and/or post secondary education through strong linkages between academic and occupational learning.   Funds may be used for education including basic and remedial education, work experience and occupational skills training, mentoring, tutoring, counseling, internships and support services such as leadership development, decision-making and citizenship skills. To be eligible, youth must be 14 to 21 years of age, low-income and face at least one of the following barriers to employment: deficiency in basic literacy skills, a school dropout, homeless, a runaway, a foster child, pregnant or a parent, an offender or require additional assistance to complete their education or secure and hold employment. At least 30 percent of local youth funds must help those who are not in school.

Utilize Public-Private Partnerships

  • The W.K. Kellogg Foundation supports efforts to increase and diversify civic engagement by and for vulnerable children and families. Kellogg focuses on three key objectives: catalyzing civic engagement so that communities mobilize voices, resources and solutions to improve the lives of vulnerable children; accelerating emerging philanthropic partners, tools and possibilities to increase community philanthropy and foster new models; and increasing the effectiveness, collaboration and community responsiveness of philanthropic and non-profit anchor institutions.
  • Through its community engagement investments, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation funds efforts to enable all residents to participate in their communities and to assume the full rights and responsibilities of citizens in a democracy.
  • The Case Foundation champions of all strategies that deepen civic engagement and put “citizens at the center” of finding solutions for problems that affect them, their communities and society. The Case Foundation launched its first public grants program, inspired by Citizens at the Center: A New Approach to Civic Engagement, in response to findings that many people felt disconnected from public leaders, institutions and each other and did not believe they had the power to make a real difference in their communities.

Investing in Youth Engagement. The Arsalyn Program of Ludwick Family Foundation encourages young Americans to become informed, active participants in the electoral process with the goal of ensuring that voting becomes a lifetime commitment on the part of our nation's young adults. Arsalyn provides technical assistance to youth and adult representatives of organizations working on civic and political engagement among young people grades 5-12 and/or ages 11-20. The organization also provides arsalINFO, an online database of organizations promoting youth civic and political engagement.