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Promote Youth Civic Engagement

Strategies Success Stories

What Can Policymakers Do?

  • Promote youth voter registrationBy providing youth with ongoing training in civic participation, promoting voter registration and creating opportunities for youth to interface with candidates and elected officials, state policymakers can amplify youth voice and support the formation of life-long voting and civic engagement habits. Youth civic engagement and voting also help hold elected officials accountable to the needs of their youth constituents.
  • Establish opportunities for authentic youth voice in governmentInstitutionalizing youth voice in the policymaking process both engages young people and helps policymakers make wiser investments and policy decisions responsive to youth needs. By creating formal youth advisory councils and involving youth in local mapping and planning efforts, state policymakers encourage youth participation and enable youth to identify ways in which policies and programs can better serve their needs. Youth-run grant programs allow youth to shape policy and programmatic priorities and empower peers through funding their projects while learning firsthand about funding processes.
  • Promote diverse forms of youth serviceYouth who participate in diverse service activities are more likely to become engaged in the community and are more likely to develop a long-lasting sense of civic responsibility.1 Engaging youth in a range of service options allows for them to develop skills and gain experience, while giving back to their communities; it also allows for states to undertake needed projects while providing young people with opportunities for out-of-classroom learning.2 Young people who participate in diverse service opportunities have higher academic achievement and an increased interest in furthering their education.3 Providing diverse opportunities for youth to engage in service is a strategy that promotes the development of a new generation of caring and experienced citizens, activists and volunteers.4
  • Promote policies to support youth engagement. By promoting policies that support youth engagement, policymakers ensure that youth are able to participate in both guiding policy and participating in the voting process. By recognizing the valuable and unique experience and knowledge of youth and providing concrete ways for youth to participate in guiding policy, states ensure public problem-solving is more comprehensive. 

1 National League of Cities (2001). Promoting Youth Participation.

2 National League of Cities (2001). Promoting Youth Participation.

3 National Service Learning Clearinghouse (2007). Benefits of Community-Based Service Learning. Available online

4 Mohamed, I. A., & Wheeler, W. (Eds.). (2001). Broadening the bounds of youth development: Youth as engaged citizensTakoma Park, MD: Innovation Center for Community and Youth Development.


The American Youth Policy Forum publication, Building an Effective Citizenry: Lessons Learned From Initiatives in Youth Engagement, is a great tool for planning and working with youth.