On November 6, 2015, Institute for Emerging Issues had the pleasure of convening youth specialists, civic engagement enthusiasts, and young leaders from across North Carolina in three strategic locations: Asheville, Raleigh, and Greenville. While the conversation varied from mountains to coast, one thing became abundantly clear:
There is value in bringing together a diverse audience to ensure the young citizens of our State have the opportunity to become the most engaged peer group North Carolina has ever known.
What does it mean to be engaged?
And, why does it matter?
With your help, we’ll be exploring questions like these in depth.
In our November convening, IEI focused on two types of engagement highlighted in our 2015 Civic Health Index: volunteerism and group participation. Our research illuminated a disturbing fact:
Fewer than 1 in 5 citizens under the age of 30 will volunteer this year.
Volunteering, as explained by organizations like Opportunity Nation, builds community strength, economic power, and individual workforce readiness. Though challenges to engagement abound, we believe we cannot afford to risk so many of our young citizens losing critical development opportunities.
IEI has taken a particular interest in developing future talent, as evidenced in no small part by our Emerging Issues Forum: FutureWork. On February 8th and 9th, we challenged a diverse body of leaders in North Carolina to develop responsive strategies for the coming wave of automation and technology-driven workforce displacement as well as demographic changes. During the Forum, we worked directly with some youth engagement specialists who attended our November 6th summit to create their own plan of action.
You may be interested to know, also as part of the Forum, IEI is cultivating youth engagement directly through its Emerging Issues High School Prize for Innovation and Discovery Forum programs. Both of these social entrepreneurship competitions seek to prepare young citizens to identify key issues in their communities, come up with a solution, and implement an action plan. We hope the experiences help young leaders to develop the creativity and resiliency they will need as entire careers and fields of study disappear from the economy and new opportunities arise in FutureWork.
IEI is also hosting a blog to highlight best practices and common issues in civic engagement. Every month, one contributed blog will focus on youth engagement specifically.
Whether the Forum, prizes, or blog, we know that our efforts need to focus on supporting the committed, thriving community of youth engagement experts who came together in November to exchange best practices and resources. To that end, we hope that you will reach out to us with your events, your tools, your questions, and your stories so that we can do what we do best: connect you to other professionals, think with you about your obstacles and opportunities, and do whatever it takes to ensure access to meaningful engagement opportunities for youth in every community.
Now, let’s get engaged.