The role of civic engagement in neighborhood revitalization, particularly in low income African American communities, has gained increased awareness and in recent years. Community, nonprofit, and government leaders now view civic engagement as a critical component of effective solutions as they seek to address crime, unemployment, low graduation rates and numerous other neighborhood challenges. Several successful initiatives have come to fruition and provide strong evidence of the benefits that increased civic engagement provides.
Experts commonly define civic engagement as individual and group actions that collectively address general issues of concern that are public in nature. Civic engagement takes many forms such volunteerism, community organizing, and involvement in public policy and political issues.
Individuals and community residents can express civic engagement through a variety of activities including participating in neighborhood associations, communicating with elected officials, and volunteering for local nonprofits.
Golod (2008) analyzed the Southside Family Charter School located in Minneapolis, MN which serves as a prime example of early civic engagement. Students enrolled in the school reside in a low income community that is close to 50% African American. To improve civic engagement of students and parents, school administrators have developed lesson plans with a focus on civil rights. As a result, the community is preparing a new generation of residents focused on improving their community who follow in the footsteps of parents serving in volunteer capacities and as strong neighborhood activists.
The McCormick Foundation recently demonstrated a commitment to civic engagement here in Chicago by .
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