• Description

Civic engagement is a key indicator of adulthood. Young adults respond to the social and political issues of the day in a variety of ways. After the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in 2020, young people demonstrated against racial injustice in more than 10,000 peaceful protests around the country. That fall saw record numbers of youth turn out for the presidential election; half of eligible voters ages 18–29 participated, compared with 39 percent in 2016. Climate change likewise catalyzed young people, as nearly 30 percent of Generation Z and Millennials made donations, contacted public officials, volunteered, or protested, surpassing Generation X and Baby Boomers. Young people are commonly assumed to be disengaged, disillusioned, and uninterested in civic life. These trends challenge that proposition.

Civic engage­ment is an import­ant part of our demo­cratic soci­ety, and it is a mean­ing­ful part of young people's healthy devel­op­ment and trans­ition into adult­hood. This report explores the concept of civic engage­ment and the distinct­ive, and some­times unac­coun­ted for, ways that young people parti­cip­ate in their communit­ies to improve social condi­tions, voice their needs and concerns, and uphold demo­cracy.