From January through March, our Youth as Civic Experts network students set out to collect responses from youth across the nation about their civic learning and civic engagement experiences. During that time, nearly 5,000 responses were collected for our National Listening Tour where we sought to elevate student voices and give them a platform to voice suggestions and concerns related to their civic education.
After evaluating the responses gathered, Youth as Civic Experts network students unanimously agreed that there is widespread student dissatisfaction with their civic learning experiences. There is a lack of youth representation within civic engagement opportunities and insufficient civics courses being taught in schools. These conclusions power the #CivicsForUS campaign, a national movement to promote equitable civic education.
The #CivicsForUS campaign officially launched on March 8th, 2021 with the leadership and direction of Youth as Civic Expert network students. Using digital media tools, our social-media savvy students embarked on the journey to empower their fellow youth by sharing similar sentiments and important civic knowledge across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Tik Tok. This campaign not only helped rally diverse youth groups together to fight for equitable civic education but also uplifted and motivated youth to believe in their power to make change.
Throughout the course of the campaign, Youth as Civic Expert network students took the initiative to reach out to peers, educators throughout their districts, school boards, and organizations to promote the National Listening Tour and #CivicsForUS campaign. Aside from developing and promoting a national campaign, students were also given the opportunity to network with other like-minded individuals and to develop their professional skills. Students delved deeper into the importance of civic education and participation, further realizing the necessity of equitable civic learning opportunities. They also learned about the necessity of digital literacy in making the campaign accessible and easy to understand for all audiences.
Reflecting on their participation in the campaign, students felt extremely rewarded to have been a part of a significant cause.
One student remarked, “Being a part of a national campaign, including contributing to a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Education, makes me feel hopeful as well as accountable because youth are basking in their ability to be activists; additionally, I feel more of an urge to study and participate the different aspects of civics since I am one of the people who are promoting it.”
Another shared, “I feel incredibly grateful to be a part of this opportunity. In a continuously advancing society like this, it is important to empower the younger people and generations to fight for what is right, to educate themselves on important issues and topics, and to help others in the community. Using my voice for the greater good is why this national campaign is so inspiring and influential.”
Youth as Civic Expert students dedicated themselves to advocate for equitable civic education. Over the course of building the campaign, they further realized the necessity of equitable civic learning opportunities and resources. This campaign was only possible with the help of youth across the nation who were brave enough to voice their opinions and share ideas for change. The fight for equitable civic education is ongoing and we need to hear you! Join our campaign on Twitter, Instagram, and Tik Tok by using #CivicForUS and visit our website at https://www.civicsforus.org/.
By: Vicky Chen
Vicky Chen is a senior at Baruch College and is extremely passionate about empowering youth and equitable education. She is currently the Youth Engagement Program Assistant, where she works alongside Youth as Civic Experts students to ensure their voices are shared and heard.