The National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC), in partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service, and the U.S. Census Bureau, recently released new Volunteering and Civic Life in America (VCLA) data for 2013.
While some key indicators remain high, 16 of the 20 civic health indicators dropped compared to our most recent data collected in 2011 and 2012. Below are some of the central findings:
- Confidence in corporations increased with 64.5% reporting they have some or a great deal of confidence, up 2.5 points from 62% in 2011.
- 25.4% or 62 million Americans volunteered a total of 7.7 billion hours compared to 26.5% in 2012.
- 55.8% of Americans trust most or all of the people in their neighborhood and 12.1% of Americans exchanged favors for neighbors frequently. Both decreased by .9 and 1.9 points respectively since 2011.
- More than a third of Americans (36.3%) are involved in a school, civic, recreational, religious, or other organization, down 3 points from 2011.
- Americans who hear from family or friends frequently saw the third biggest drop at 3.3 points since 2011.
- Americans reporting that they had some or a great deal of confidence in the media had the biggest drop of 7 points from 62% to 55%.
Overall, the data shows Americans continue to volunteer and engage in their communities at high rates. While the data is only from two years, we should be vigilant about the challenges facing America’s civc health.
To overcome these challenges, we must all redouble our efforts in our personal and professional lives. At NCoC, we are building the Service Year exchange (SYx) to unite Americans through service and supporting our partners through the Civic Health Initiative. Learn more about these efforts and join us. Together, we can strengthen civic life in America.
By Stephanie South, Program Associate, AASCU
Hello and happy #ADPFF, ADP peeps!
We didn’t post last week (sigh…) because ADP National Manager Jen Domagal-Goldman and I were at the 2013 National Conference on Citizenship at the United States Institute of Peace.
We were here: the United States Institute of Peace
So, this Friday, we are bringing you a couple pics and some of our favorite/thought-provoking tweets from the event. For more on what went down, discover #NCoC on Twitter.
ADP National Manager Jen Domagal-Goldman speaking about ADP at the 2013 NCoC
Some of the tweets/conversation-starters we favorited:
- The flag at half-mast outside of the State Department as a show of respect for the victims of Navy Yard; NCoC also opened both days of the event with a moment of silence
by the National Conference on Citizenship (an ADP Partner organization)
The 2013 Civic Data Challenge launches today at the Data Visualization Summit in San Francisco. The Challenge invites participants to turn raw data about civic health into useful applications and visualizations that have direct impact on public decision-making.
Expanded version of last year’s challenge
Last year, the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) with the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation launched the first-ever national Civic Data Challenge. Winning teams spanned the country and included undergraduate students and nonprofit leaders, financial analysts and graphic designers, developers and coders. They brought new eyes, new minds, and new skill sets to the field of civic health to help make this trove of community insight more valuable and accessible to decision makers and the public. For a great recap of last year’s Challenge, read Fast Company’s Visualizing Civic Data to Make the Case for Civic Health.
This year, NCoC, with the support of Knight Foundation, is launching an expanded version of the Challenge. Exciting additions to this year’s Challenge include:
- Three Challenge phases–ideation, creation, and implementation– to help teams come together to build entries that are responsive to community needs.
- Grand prizes to teams that create exceptionally useful products AND work with community partners to successfully implement those tools.
- The opportunity for participants to improve entries along the way with the support of a team of expert advisors.
Submit an idea now
The Civic Data Challenge is asking community leaders, government officials, developers, coders and all interested citizens to get involved. The first step is to submit an idea through the Challenge website, from April 11 – May 19. This ideation phase is an opportunity to creative a collective brainstorm about what tools (apps, websites, videos, and infographics) could be built using civic data. These ideas will inform the parameters of the Challenge and teams will begin building entries to respond May 24 – July 28. Join us at www.CivicDataChallenge.org .
The Civic Data Challenge is supported by our launch partners at Innovation Enterprise who are organizing the Data Visualization Summit. DVSF is the world’s largest executive led data visualization summit and will be attended by Fortune 500 executives. The challenge is also supported by promotional partners at CEOs for Cities, DataKind, Data Visualization Summit and sponsors at Iron.io.
Civic data is essential to measuring, understanding, and shaping how our communities and democracy are functioning. Each year, NCoC and their partners at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) release in-depth information on how Americans are engaged in our communities across the country.
The most recent findings show some promising trends, but also some troubling gaps in participation. Interesting findings include:
- In 2011, the national volunteer rate reached a five-year high.
- There were also upward trends in how often we help each other informally, by looking after each other’s kids or helping a neighbor in need.
- However, connections to our neighbors could be stronger, as just 13.3% of Americans said that they talk with their neighbors every day and only 30.4% do so a few times a week.
- There are other gaps in local participation in civic life. Nearly a third of Americans say they never vote in local elections, and the majority of us are not involved in any organizations or groups in our communities.
- Social media is often cited as the new wave of political engagement, but 72.1% of Americans say they never use the Internet to express opinions on political or community issues.
This information presents an important opportunity to develop strategies at the local level that strengthen civic engagement. NCoC currently works with partners in 30 communities to help make this data meaningful. These partners tell the story of what this data means, give context to the findings, and put forward recommendations on what can be done to strengthen civic life.
Want to learn more about how to bring this data to your community? Join NCoC for a webinar presentation on civic health partnership opportunities on March 27th, 2-3 PM Eastern.
The National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) is a non-partisan nonprofit chartered by Congress in 1953 to advance the nation’s civic life.
By Stephanie South, Program Associate, AASCU
After recently reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (highly recommend by the way), I have found myself a bit preoccupied with research on the subject of happiness. My quest for more information and a lack of cable led me to the documentary section on Netflix, which I am nearly convinced is going to ruin the productivity of my twenties.
Anyway, it was on the Netflix app that I digitally stumbled upon Happy—a documentary film that takes the viewer, per IMDB, on a journey from the swamps of Louisiana to the slums of Kolkata in search of what really makes people happy. Although the stories of and interviews with the individuals living in these various locations, along with insight from leading scientists on happiness research (that sounds like a fun job), make the film worth viewing, those of you whose pulses quicken at all things civic may draw an additional smile from it.
As Happy explores the secrets behind our most valued emotion, a family living in a co-housing community in Denmark shares their experiences with it and the joy derived from it. Very Bowling Alone, I would imagine most of you will nod your head in agreement with the family about the importance of community and place to our emotional and civic health.
So if you find yourself with some down time this weekend, give Happy a try (and then get off Netflix and go read a book–that was mainly a note to self).