Friday, March 10, 2006

Post 911 Increase in Civic Engagement Among Young People

Another good news trend for nonprofits engaged in strategic planning: An increase in volunteering and civic engagement among young people in the wake of 911. Thomas H. Sander and Robert D. Putnam in an article that appeared in the Washington Post last fall (Sept. 11 as Civics Lesson) note …

"After a quarter-century decline of interest and participation in national politics among young Americans, a host of measures turned upward after 2001. Voting rates among 18- to 24-year-olds increased by 23 percent -- 2 to 12 times faster than those of other age cohorts in the national elections in 2002 and 2004. Since Sept. 11, young adults have expressed heightened interest both in "government and current events" and "social issues," according to surveys of high school seniors. And other long-term national surveys show that college freshmen are increasingly discussing politics -- once again a reversal that dates precisely to the fall of 2001. This politicization is especially pronounced among people ages 18 to 21 on Sept. 11, 2001, with a slightly lesser effect on Americans who were between 22 and 25. There seems to be little or no enduring Sept. 11 effect among older generations."

For links to more data supporting and describing this trend, also see a post by Peter Levine in his civic renewal blog at