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Weaving Youth and Civic Development
At the Wingspread conference, Emerging Best Practices: Weaving the Work of Youth and Civic Development, participants analyzed stories from groundbreaking projects integrating youth and civic development; crafted a set of principles linking the fields of youth, civic and community development; and developed strategies for communicating these in practice. In accomplishing this, they activated a network of partners, seeded a national movement and called for a locally-driven multiplication of opportunities to fully engage young people in public life. Case study plus.
Case Study Plus: Weaving Youth and Civic Development
Weaving Youth and Civic Development
Wingspread Youth and Civic Development Report
The report of proceedings from:
Emerging Best Practices: Weaving the Work of Youth and Civic Development.
March 1-3, 1996
Wingspread Conference Center
The Center for Democracy and Citizenship, University of Minnesota
The Indiana Consortium of Caring Communities, Marian College
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The Surdna Foundation
The Johnson Foundation
I. Overview At the Wingspread conference, Emerging Best Practices: Weaving the Work of Youth and Civic Development, participants analyzed stories from groundbreaking projects integrating youth and civic development; crafted a set of principles linking the fields of youth, civic and community development; and developed strategies for communicating these in practice. In accomplishing this, they activated a network of partners, seeded a national movement and called for a locally-driven multiplication of opportunities to fully engage young people in public life. The product of the conference, the "Preamble and Principles: Best Practices of Youth and Civic Development" speaks directly and constructively to the widespread alarm about the state of our youth, our communities and our nation. It invites all citizens to rethink young people's roles, relationships, identities and contributions in American society.
II. Introduction On March 1-3, 1996, Wingspread confereesthirty-five adult and youth leaders in the forefront of youth development and civic developmentcame together to share the lessons of their work. In a weekend of grappling with ideas, conferees scaled the boundaries of different disciplines to gain common language and understanding. They joined together, hopeful that learning from each other would yield new and better ways to address the challenge of our time: reweaving the social fabric of our democratic society and educating our youth for American and world citizenship.
The following is a report of the proceedings, which summarizes the discussions, synthesizes the themes, reports on decisions and presents a framework for future action.
III. Conference Background Across the countryin schools, neighborhood groups, youth and service organizations, religious congregations, government agencies, and elsewhere- citizens of all ages are countering democratic decline and fostering positive youth development by participating in civic life. They are framing common issues, addressing common problems, and shouldering common tasks. In doing so, organizations that promote youth development are discovering young people as productive citizens. Organizations devoted to civic development are learning that young people can be bold and creative civic innovators.
This conference was organized to distill the lessons from this work. Through reflective analysis of the stories from pathfinding projects which have integrated youth and civic development, conference participants sought to meet the following goals.
- To create a framework that links youth development with civic development, and to articulate a set of best practices for youth and civic development.
- To develop strategies that translate best practices into wide communication and implementation.
- To build a sustainable network to communicate, experiment with, and learn from these practices.
IV. Building Blocks To provide the conference participants with a common knowledge base and starting point, Nan Skelton, from the Center for Democracy and Citizenship, and Karen Pittman, from the International Youth Foundation, opened the conference with a description of youth, civic, and community development and clarified premises specific to each field.
Youth development is an ongoing, complex process through which all young people seek ways to meet their basic needs and acquire the maturity, confidence and skills critical for full participation in society. Pittman proposed that "Young people need people, places, possibilities, preparation, practice, participation, permission, perspective . . . which equals powerpolitical power, philanthropic power and personal power."
As young people grow, it is important to set expectations for them to be "not just problem-free, but fully prepared". Youth development is about helping young people gain clusters of competencies in academic, vocational, social, emotional and other areas and the character, compassion, commitment and confidence necessary to use these competencies well.
The field of youth development recognizes the long-standing investment in programs and services for youth, including those driven by remediation and prevention mandates. But young people grow up in communities, not in programs. Therefore, there is, or should be, ample investment in understanding the conditions that result in youth assets and supporting the connections and caring relationships each youth needs to make: to self, to others, and to the community.
Civic development, according to Skelton, is concerned with the responsibility ordinary people have to work together to define what works and what doesn't in the nation, the city and the neighborhood: to build on what is positive and fix what is negative. It rests on the belief that people can think and that ordinary citizens can wrestle with big ideas and apply them to their lives and the broader public world. Civic development understands politics as how "we, the people" make collective decisions and determine a common future in all kinds of settings.
Public work, defined as visible work by a mix of ordinary people that builds and sustains things of public value and significance, was lifted up as a vehicle for youth and civic development. To act effectively, people need to develop relationships that are strategic sources of power, that will help get things done in the larger arena. People engaged in public work show a strong level of ownership and passion for the work at hand and are willing to be part of its governance.
Civic development builds on a variety of democratic traditions, dating back to our nation's founding and earlier times. Over the past generation it has specifically benefited from the lessons of the civil rights movement's Citizenship Schools, new community organizing traditions, and civic development experiments in a wide variety of fields.
Community development is building capacity for action. Historically, community development has been concerned with building the physical and economic infrastructure of communities. More recently, community developers have claimed human development or "social capital" as their domain as well. Throughout the conference, community development was seen in context of bridging the fields of youth and civic development.
Community development seeks to build, and build on, the health of families, religious congregations, voluntary and civic organizations, as well as public and private sector institutions. Community development in this richer sense stresses developing capacities for action: how people gain the skills, relationships, and self-organization essential for empowerment.
Draft Principles for Youth and Civic Development: To ground the work of integrating youth and civic development, preliminary concepts were presented for discussion. The major points outlined in the draft set of principles were:
- Youth as producers.
- Linkage between learning and doing.
- Relationships among youth and with adults.
- Productive efforts framed in broad terms.
- Visibility of public work.
- Respect for young people's intelligence.
- Community and institutional change.
V. Debating the Givens Working from the material presented, conference facilitator Kent McGuire of the Pew Charitable Trusts, asked for reactions: first impressions, questions and suggestions.
Ideas to clarify and improve the draft statement of principles were plentiful.
Working groups suggested:
- Defining the terms: What is meant by youth? producers and products?
- Stressing the roles youth need to play in governance and decision making.
- Highlighting the public, common-good nature of the work to be done.
- Conveying a spirit of love and community throughout the principles.
- Framing the principles for implementing in age-appropriate ways, but not lowering expectations.
- Stressing the reciprocal, positive relationships between young people and adults.
- Balancing the teamwork principle between developing skills and creating a positive peer environment.
- Making the principles concrete enough to put into action.
Next, groups raised questions regarding specific tensions about the status quo, and their own work. These included:
- Did youth have input into the draft statement of principles?
- Why don't people implement best practices that are already well-known?
- Why do people focus on the "one shot deal" solution to immediate problems, and not look for holistic solutions that meet long-term goals?
- What should be done about institutions, such as schools, that seem so reluctant to change?
Finally, groups identified overarching issues, such as:
These initial comments surfaced tensions which stem, perhaps, from youth development and civic development operating in largely separate spheres of influence. For some with roots in the youth development field, democracy is too abstract, too "political", or, in practice, has been too exclusive to be valued or relevant. It lacks sufficient commitment to young people's individual growth and interpersonal connections. For some rooted in civic development, the ends of youth development must coincide with the ends of engaging the citizenry in democratic values and public work. Encouragingly, the need to move beyond an either/or mindset emerged: that room exists for focus on the individual and the group; self-worth and the common good; caring relationships and public relationships.
- What needs to happen so that all people, not just youth, can see themselves as producers?
- Are we acknowledging the fact that institutions underestimate the potential of people on many basis, including race and sex, as well as age?
Participants acknowledged that there has been much work done within the fields of youth, civic and community development, but there has not been a "connecting of the dots" among them. To some extent, movements energize each of these fields. Some asserted that what was needed is a new movement, one that intentionally blends ideas and practices from each. The case studies that followed illustrated how and to what extent these distinct fields can be complementary, and even synergistic, in practice.
VI. Weaving Principles and Practices through Civic Stories
Center for Democracy and Citizenship:
Youth and Civic Development Woven into the American Dialogue
In setting the stage for case studies, Harry Boyte of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship, and Tony Massengale of the Center for Civic Capacity Building made these observations:
- Young people need to learn the history, culture, values, rules of their environmentstheir schools, neighborhoods, and community groups. Young people need to understand how things work from those who knowmainly from adults and older youth.
- Civic development with youth must include civic development work with adults, because too often adults view their own work as lacking significance and meaning. Environments need to change both for the sake of young people and for adults themselves, and young people can play a role in this. They bring originality and energy to the renewal of all kinds of environments.
- Civic engagement needs to framed in broad terms: What are we creating that is lasting, visible, and important? The spirit and energy of larger purpose is essential. One lesson for a movement around youth and civic development is: if we want things to be different for young people, we have to do things differently as adults.
Youth and Civic Development Woven into Journalism
Children's Express (CE), created in 1975, is an international nonprofit youth development and leadership organization that uses journalism to give children a significant voice in the world. In CE, journalistic productsnewspaper articles, books, symposia, and hearingsreveal the experiences of children in the voices of children.
As illustrated by Indianapolis bureau director Lynn Sygiel and CE alumna Kate Schnippel, the young people involved in CE gain skills and experiences in the process of creating a visible product. Youth, ages eight to eighteen, collectively define, research, and discuss serious issues that have far-ranging significance in today's world. Youthful reporters interview a diversity of children and adults, and become accountable for work that reflects on them as individuals and as an organization. As a consequence, young people "come to imagine" themselves differently. As Kate Schnippel recounted the impact of her CE experience in Kuwait this way: "I never would have had the opportunity or even considered this. . . Why should I care about wars that are going on in other parts of the world? But through an experience like Children's Express, through the experience of going and meeting and talking to these kids [in Kuwait], and finding out about their lives, I was able to realize this is what I wanted to do with my life."
CE's influence goes beyond just the children on staff. The children who are interviewed get to tell their stories and a broad audience gains insight into the lives of young people. Adult journalists and experts learn how to work with young people. In an age of media-defined reality, the media gain important new perspectives as children are recognized members of the community. In the words of a CE alum, "CE helps tell other people that kids can do almost anything, . . . it also makes kids think that kids can do things."
Kellogg Youth Initiative Program:
Youth and Civic Development Woven into Community Development
As presented by Leah Austin and Bob Long of the Kellogg Foundation, and Dale Blyth from the Search Institute, the Kellogg Youth Initiative Program represents an unprecedented foundation investment in youth and community. In 1990, the Kellogg Foundation made a twenty year commitment to three Michigan communities: a Detroit neighborhood, two rural counties in the Upper Peninsula, and the mixed urban/rural county that is home to the Foundation. The challenge for each community is to become the best place it can for young people. By yoking youth and community development, the initiative seeks to raise public awareness about youth development, foster institutional change to support youth development, balance service provision and opportunity, and involve youth seriously in their own development and that of the community.
The KYIP employs local staff to work in and with their own communities. The project funds ideas and programs that are grounded and flexible, because they were developed by community teams in response to needs they identified. This community orientation, while promising, has raised questions: How exactly is community defined? How can the Foundation make use of its expertise, without undermining community initiative? At what point should the Foundation's presence become less visible?
The KYIP is potentially the best experiment possible to test what can be accomplished over a generation in communities with foundation support and an engaged citizenry. The lessons and results of the KYIP are being well documented and will be widely disseminated. In this way the impact of the KYIP will extend far beyond the borders of three Michigan communities.
Central Park East:
Youth and Civic Development Woven into Schooling
Central Park East Secondary School (CPESS), a public school founded in 1985, prides itself as a place of learning, caring, connections, service and democracy. As explained by Anne Purdy, CPESS's Community Service/Internship Coordinator, its promise to all students, families, and the community is that when students graduate from CPESS they will have learned to use their minds well. The school is based on the philosophy of "student as worker, teacher as coach."
Four hundred eighty students attend CPESS, beginning in 7th grade. They participate in small (twenty students) interdisciplinary classes and advisory groups that stress collaborative learning. Students also participate in service learning and internships in community organizations. Graduation is based on the successful demonstration of competence in fourteen areas, through portfolios open to a wide audience. CPESS's graduation rate is extraordinarily high, as is the number of students who go on to college.
CPESS students have organized many programs within the school, including the Invincible Brotherhood in which two graduates work with many of the 7th grade males; a bilingual video project, to be distributed throughout the community, describes the resources available in East Harlem; and Esperanza, a Latino student organization which sponsored a community-wide conference, "Latino Youth for a Change."
Through its philosophy, structure, policies, and programs, CPESS demonstrates the potential of public schools to become places of public work and community collaboration.
YouthBuild: Youth and Civic Development Woven into Work and Community
YouthBuild, as presented by YouthBuild USA president Dorothy Stoneman and YouthBuild Sandtown (Baltimore) youth leader Antoine Bennett, is a comprehensive national youth and community development program that simultaneously addresses several core issues facing low income communities: education, housing, jobs, and leadership development. It enables young people who have dropped out of school to serve their communities while building a future with promise.
Young people participate in YouthBuild for 12-18 months, attending classes and working toward a GED, learning construction trades and building housing in their community, and developing their leadership skills. Young people help to develop the program, advocate for government and community support, and hold equal power with staff in making policy. As Bennett explained, "Students make final hiring decisions and work on the design of the curriculum. It doesn't get any more serious than that."
In addition to its education, job training, community development, and leadership aspects, YouthBuild functions as a community which helps young people make new friends committed to positive lifestyles and productive futures. Bennett summed up his YouthBuild experience by saying: "The YouthBuild program is so dynamic . . . I went from a loser to a leader. I went from a menace to society to a minister to society."
Indiana Consortium of Caring Communities:
Youth and Civic Development in Progress
The mission of the Consortium of Caring Communities grew from a fundamental question, "How can public and private institutions and forces work within Indiana communities in ways that would enable citizens to create the future they seek for themselves and their children?" This Lilly Endowment, Inc. project, still in its early stages, is striving to build partnerships among key state intermediary organizations and community driven-initiatives in four charter communities: Floyd County (New Albany), Wayne County (Richmond), Vanderburgh County (Evansville), and Vigo County (Terre Haute).
Kate Gill Kressley, Marian College project director and Paula Schmidt-Lewis, PSL Associates consultant, presented several of the approaches deployed in the first year. First, the Consortium aimed to fuel the initiative with a clear vision and conceptual framework that combines the best of what is known about youth and civic development. Second, tools were developed and tested to help communities mobilize for public work. Third, local and state leaders were engaged in dialogue concerning how to build a coherent system out of a rich, but disjointed mix of state and local, private and public organizations. Fourth, county-based initiatives were provided technical assistance, training and networking opportunities.
In caring communities, leaders are pondering how to make human services planning part of a larger process that engages people from all sectors: how business, government, and neighborhood leaders can be part of the process; how citizenship and public work capacities are built; and how to link with other collaboratives and leverage resources.
To date, the accomplishments of the four communities have been modest, but encouraging. Early signs suggest that the concepts of youth and civic development are beginning to take hold. Youth are benefiting because adults are beginning to include them in real roles in community work teams and, as a result, youth are learning the skills of public work. These young people are breaking ground for other youth to follow and are influencing the thinking and actions of community leaders.
VII. Drafting Principles of Vital Practice One of the three goals for the conference was to create a framework that links and articulates a set of best practices for youth and civic development. Conference participants did this by crafting a set of principles, preceded by a preamble. Much of this work was accomplished on site, with final modifications in the principles, and the action plan which follows, generated by working groups subsequent to the conference.
Youth and Civic Development Principles
Since both youth and adults are often alienated from their communities, institutions, the larger public world, and one another, there is a need to re-weave the social fabric of our democratic society and refocus our attention on the broad challenges of education for American and world citizenship;
Since youth development takes place within, and is fundamentally affected by, the life of the larger community and public world;
Since civic engagement is a critical element of community and public life, shaping both how youth and adults relate to one another and how they contribute to the common good through public work;
Since creating opportunities for youth civic engagement can effectively build the critical competencies, connections, and confidence necessary for youth to be, and become, concerned and contributing citizens;
We advance the following principles of vital practice, in order to shape the common purposes and spirit of youth and civic development, broadly conceived.
- Young people are producers. Vital practice in youth and civic development stresses multiple opportunities for young people to engage in public work, effort that makes things of lasting value for our communities and our commonwealth.
- Young people's intelligence, talents, experiences, and energy deserve respect. Vital practice provides young people with the opportunities to think, ask critical questions, gain feedback, and bring forward their creative insights.
- Public work and skill building link together. Vital practice provides young people the opportunity to develop emotional, social, intellectual and civic skills through public work that creates things of value.
- Young people participate in governance. Vital practice has young people in positions of responsibility, and it creates multiple opportunities for young people to learn skills of governance, participating in decision making about what is done and how it is done.
- Young people and adults develop committed, reciprocal relationships. Vital practice stresses personal relationships, with parents and other adults who are sources of support and caring; and public relationships that are strategic sources of power for effective action. These relationships are deepened through work of importance, and take time to develop.
- Cooperative action is valued. Vital practice stresses opportunities for young people to learn the essential skills of teamwork, including accountability, negotiation, and appreciation for the practical uses of diversity as a potential resource for action. It helps to create a positive peer environment and build cooperative spirit with other young people and with adults.
- Young people's public work is visible. Vital practice organizes discussion and celebration of young people's work by larger publics, including adults and other young people.
- Young people's efforts connect with the large civic challenges and questions of meaning in our time. Vital practice puts young people's work in contexts of larger issues. It encourages them to reflect on the spiritual dimensions of their effort. It challenges them to answer questions like, "What difference does it make?" "What is the social benefit?" and "How does this contribute to democracyour ability to shape our common destiny?"
- Young people's work contributes to community and institutional change. Vital practice is mindful of the effects of young people's work on community attitudes and practices. It asks questions like, "How are young people seen differentlyas contributors?" "How are the primary networks of relationships in which young people live and work strengthened and renewed?" and "How does youth work become less focused on 'fixing' youth through service delivery, and more focused on building youth capacities for productive contributions?"
IIX. Capturing the Vision From summer camp to boot camp, youth are served, taken care of, or managedbut all too rarely challenged to join in building their communities and their commonwealth. For the Wingspread conferees, consensus emerged around critical issues: youth participation in civic life is important for youth development and youth participation is essential for democracy's renewal. The goal that follows is full engagement of young people in public life.
Today, there are youth development programs that have youth participation in public life and youth contribution to the public good as their purpose. Similarly, there are civic organizations that have this as their primary mission. But are therecould there bewhole communities that hold this as a basic expectation for young people? Are there placestowns, cities, neighborhoods, school districtswhere substantial participation of youth is expected, encouraged, enabled and rewarded? If these communities existed, young people, now broadly labeled consumers, clients, and even criminals, would be seen and valued as contributors. Youth, working with adult citizens, would experience the many roles necessary in a working democracyvolunteer, leader, developer, organizer, educator, documentor, advocate, critic, watchdog and philanthropist.
IX. Meeting the Challenges Looking forward, participants envisioned indicators of success for specific fields. From the youth development perspective, success might be the extent to which:
From the civic development perspective, success might be the extent to which:
- youth reflect on, and add to, these principles and how they relate to their work and development;
- youth are involved in serious ways in their own development and that of the their communities;
- foundations, government and adults in general integrate these principles into their work with young people;
- "youth as producers and resources" for the community becomes the prevailing mindset of citizens.
From the community development perspective, success might be the extent to which:
- people tie their work explicitly to larger public issues and discuss it using the language of civic and youth development;
- youth are involved in serious ways in their own development and the building of their communities;
- young people and adults demonstrate the skill and capacity for collaborative problem solving;
- new civic organizations are developed, with the principles of youth and civic development reflected in their missions; and
- planning is used that stresses the assets of citizens and youth and catalyzes new resources.
In the process of communicating and putting these principles into action, participants asked, "What obstacles loom? Those cited include:
- employment opportunities increase across the age span;
- new micro-enterprises and wealth are produced in the community;
- new and rehabilitated housing are created in the community;
- civic infrastructure is further developed, including more public spaces, designed in part by youth;
- interaction and dialogue is increased among community institutions, organizations, and groups;
- youth participation in community organizations is substantially increased.
- the resistance of institutions, funders, and youth professionals to rethink their purposes and restructure the way they work;
- the cultural attitudes and economic structures that limit what people believe young people and adults are capable of and can actually accomplish;
- the difficulty of turning a concept into a movement, and then, bringing that movement to scale;
- the need for community leadership and leadership development on a large scale to make a movement successful;
- and the difficulty of sustaining bold and effective action over a long period of time
X. Strategies A second goal of the conference was to develop strategies that translate best practices for youth and civic development into wide communication and implementation. To do this, conferees aimed to build a sustainable network to communicate, experiment with and learn from these practices. The strategies that follow reflect the diversity of ideas generated.
Elements common to each approach include a need for broad communication of stories and case studies; visible local and national events; civic organizing to create public forums and events; and seed grants from funders to underwrite action. The strategies that follow reflect the diversity of ideas.
A "Just do it" approach came forth, to focus on developing local sites, backed up with resources, where young people and adult leaders could convene to discuss issues and plan action. Community asset surveys were recommended to identify local actors and issues, and help foster discussion that would lead to action.
A National Commission for Youth and Civic Development was proposed to catalyze a cross-sector national conversation that would lead to action. This commission would take the lead in fostering dialogue within and across communities, networks, disciplines and sectors. It would harvest the lessons from work in progress to inform new activity. Foundations support, in the form of seed grants, would be necessary to increase projects' visibility and made wide communication possible.
A National Summit was called for within the next 12 to 18 months that would convene leaders from all generations to share and celebrate the stories of the work in progress, disseminate best practices and to provide a forum for next steps. National and local coordinators would be needed to build connections among projects and institutions, that collectively, hold the potential to spark and sustain a youth and civic development movement. Full-time local organizers would build on these connections in their communities, focusing and developing those that have, or have the potential for, strong youth governance. In addition, a national organizing entity would help to strengthen the accountability of those in the movement, and plan and advance the national summit.
XI. Next Steps To work toward the final goal of building a sustainable network to communicate about, experiment with, and learn from these practices, participants created a smaller working group to take the lead. What follows are critical needs and springboard ideas developed in a post-conference strategy session by participants Karen Pittman, Nan Skelton and Harry Boyte.
First, young people need to be given the time, tools and resources to get involved in their communities and its organizations. Youth, as well as adults, need many pathways to connect them with opportunities to do public work; to make things of value. Second, communities need to be given the information and assistance to create opportunities structures for that to happen. And third, the nation needs the sense of overall "movement", generated by public dialogue, visible events, organizational and geographic linkages and support and training networks.
Strategic directions to nurture and guide a movement were shaped, with local action being the heart of the movement. Specific tasks included:
A scaffold for the movement might be an infrastructure of regional and national supports, such as:
- Defining the baseline. What opportunities exist now for young people? What are the views of adult and youth citizens?
- Civic organizing. How can communities systematically press for more and better opportunity structures for youth?
- Linking schools and youth-serving organizations. How can opportunities for young people's public work be embedded within institutions and sustained?
Additional ideas in various stages of development include:
- Train-the-trainer style citizenship schools. A network of resources to help young people and adults prepare the groundwork for full engagement in public life, building capacity in civic organizing and citizenship skills.
- Seed grants. A small grant fund, perhaps with key roles for community foundations and youth grantmakers, could be built around youth and civic development criteria to catalyze organizing and action.
- Cross-disciplinary conversations. Groups and initiatives, now planted in "parallel but separate furrows" need forums in which to grow a common vocabulary and common themes within youth development, community development, K-12 education reform, higher education, health, moral and ethical development and intergenerational programming.
- Nationally visible occasions. A series of focusing events, such as Youth Summit 2000, would lift up cutting-edge work, stimulate reflection and set direction for future action. A common theme, a distinctive logo, a campaign "home base", communication networks, and target dates with expectations for reporting would bolster efforts.
- Evaluation framework. Benchmarks for progress might be drawn from questions that ask: What things have been created of lasting community value and significance? What new resources have been tapped? Who is involved in the creation of things of public value and how? What new skills and tools are being developed to add value to institutional collaboration, self-assessment, planning and civic capacities? What lessons are being learned and how are they transmitted through educational institutions, the media, and cultural patterns?
- publication of articles on the weaving of youth and civic development in the Fall, 1996 Wingspread Journal.
- promoting a series of Wingspread work sessions to broaden and deepen dialogue, across disciplines and issue areas.
- the creation of a youth and civic development web site to share the stories and case studies.
- continuing the conversation among foundation staff regarding leverage points for seeding innovative practices in new and existing initiatives; and
- advancing the theory and practices of youth and civic development using the vehicle of public work.
XII. Reflections In a weekend of grappling with ideas, conferees scaled the boundaries of different disciplines and shared common understanding. Consensus appeared along several unifying points: that youth development takes place within, and is affected by, the community and the larger, public world. Further, civic engagement, as a critical element of community and public life, shapes how youth and adults relate to one another and how they contribute to the common good through public work. And finally, public work is a promising vehicle for helping young people build the critical competencies, connections and confidence necessary to be effective citizens.
However, some tensions and questions linger. Youth participants at Wingspread were in the minority and young leaders called for more robust participation in all stages of subsequent processes. For some participants, the language and concepts of civic engagement and public work are still abstract and the skills associated with public work, civic organizing and community mobilization are unfamiliar. Participants speculated: Is there conflict between youth development's focus on youth in individual, caring relationships and civic development's focus on youth in group and public relationships? Or might the end points of each movement converge?
The Wingspread conferees wove a framework that intertwines youth and civic development. In doing this, they activated a network of partners, seeded a national movement and called for the creation of opportunity structures to fully engage youth in public life. They invite all citizens to rethink young peoples roles, relationships, contributions and identities in American society.
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