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Civic Engagement among Proven Risk Youth: Why and How? Jonathan F. Zaff, Ph.D. Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, Ph.D. Michelle J. Boyd, M.A. ZenubKakli, Ph.D. Youth-Nex Conference, October 24, 2011
Volunteer rates (2002-2010) by Educational Attainment CIRCLE analysis of Current Population Survey
Proven Risk Youth 9 Percent of youth (16-19 years-old) are neither in school nor working. Source: (Kids Count, 2010)
Proven Risk Youth Approximately 1 million gang members in United States. Source: (National Gang Intelligence Center, 2008)
Proven Risk Youth More than 1.6 million annual delinquency casesNearly 93,000 juveniles in residential detention Source: Puzzanchera, C, Adams, B. & Sickmund, M. (2011) Juvenile Court Statistics 2008. Pittsburgh, PA: National Center for Juvenile Justice.Sickmund, M., Sladky, T.J., and Kang, W. (2008). Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement Databook. Online. Available: http://ojjdp.ncjrs.org/ojstatbb/cjrp/
Why Should We Care? • Solving social and economic problems takes the voice of those most impacted by these problems (if voice not “heard” then less likely to continue participating). • History shows that, when opportunities arise, disadvantaged groups have become highly engaged citizens. • Non-participation can deepen the cycle of civic exclusion. • Youth is a critical period for civic and political socialization. • Civic engagement opportunities contribute to youth development overall.
Local Example – Lowell, MA • The poverty rate among Lowell youth is 24 percent, double the statewide average. • Lowell, the 4th largest city in the state, is home to 18,000 young people ages 13 to 23. Approximately one in ten are gang-involved, and there are 25-30 gang sets. • Lowell has the 9th highest teen birth rate in Massachusetts. • Lowell High School’s (with a population of over 3,500 students) four-year graduation rate ranks in the bottom 10 percent of all high schools in the state.
Mission: ignite and nurture the ambition of Lowell’s most disconnected young people to trade violence and poverty for social and economic success. • Founded in 1999 by young people in response to gang violence in Lowell. • Currently serves 1,900 youth (mainly 16-23 years-old) through street outreach, intensive programming and events.
Focus on intensive programming with 100 youth. • School dropouts AND • Gang involved, criminally involved, and/or homeless • Providing three years of intensive services: • Case management • Workforce development • Education • Civic engagement/Organizing
Core outcomes: • Housing Stability • Increased Educational Attainment and Post-Secondary Readiness • Increased Employability and Financial Health • Ceased Criminal and Gang Activity • Increased Civic Engagement
Case Study #1 • 19 years-old Latino male • Highest grade completed = 8th grade • HS Dropout, Criminal Record, Gang Affiliated Workforce Development GED = 23 days to complete Civic Part. = 49.5 civic hours
Case Study #2 • 22 year-old Southeast Asian male • Highest grade completed = 9th grade • HS Dropout, Gang Affiliated Workforce Development GED = Not yet completed (at 368 days in program) Civic Part. = Not yet substantive participation
Case Study #3 • 18 year-old Latino male • Highest grade completed = Entered with GED • HS Dropout, Gang Affiliated Workforce Development First graduate of WFD program! GED = N/A (entered with GED) Civic Part. = 371 hours