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Promising Practices for Reducing Barriers to Youth Civic Engagement

National Civic League

A healthy democracy requires equitable and just access to participation for all members of our community, especially our youth. As much as any other demographic, young people have an enormous stake in the decisions that shape the laws, policies, and practices of our country, particularly as it relates to ongoing and fraught discussions about education, healthcare, environment, immigration, foreign policy, and gun violence. Young people, as they have throughout recent U.S. history, are often on the front lines of activism, demanding more inclusive and equitable forms of democratic engagement for themselves and others. Unfortunately, youth are often not sufficiently engaged by civic apparatuses, and their perspectives and concerns go unheard, their problems unaddressed, and our community loses a significant source for change. However, over the past two decades, there has been an increased focus on youth engagement, with communities across the U.S. creating meaningful civic engagement opportunities for young people that offer them a real stake in community decision-making.

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