Published On: December 13, 2021
Home>Participatory Budgeting>How FirstRoot is Building A Generation of Civically Engaged Citizens

First For You

Why does this matter to you?

ParentsRaising civically-engaged children helps to ensure that their voices will be heard when they enter adulthood, allowing them to make a difference for themselves and the community members around them. But how can we boost interest and understanding in this area? We believe firsthand, real-life experiences are the most effective place to start.

PTAsStudents in your school are passing civics, but are they taking in knowledge that will let their voices be heard in the civil society as they enter adulthood? Will their youth engagement lead to empowerment, efforts in community organizing, and taking initiative when necessary? The addition of project-based learning, real votes, and real results can help — and all the reasons why can be found in the post below.

Principals — How can you ensure your school’s civics education is actually engaging youth and leading to difference-making political participation upon graduation? We believe youth development that includes project-based learning, student-led processes, and real results are the answer — and the latest research seems to say the same.

More About Building a Generation of Civically Engaged Citizens

Our world is in need of political engagement — and outreach to the next generation cannot wait until they reach adulthood. By teaching the importance and the inspirational, difference-making aspects of civic engagement in schools, we teach our youth that civic engagement is a natural part of being a good citizen.

At FirstRoot, we’re doing just that through a project-based learning civics tool called participatory budgeting.

The Need

We can talk about the need for youth civic engagement all day, but the statistics do a better job at painting a perfect image of the severity of this problem:

Fewer than 1 of 7 high school students are able to explain how and/or why civic participation benefits democracy.

The good news is that simply adding quality civics learning to schools creates young adults who are:

  • More likely to vote
  • More likely to discuss politics, current events, and other local issues at home
  • More likely to volunteer and support local community issues
  • More confident in public speaking
  • More likely to reach out to community leaders, policy makers, and local government officials

These political participation benefits lead to higher levels of elected official accountability through more voices exploring the tough questions many of us hold. Even equity is improved, as more people of varying backgrounds are given a voice from a young age.

FirstRoot’s Response

At FirstRoot, we don’t just teach civics to students. We create opportunities for youth participation in real democratic experiences, showing them firsthand the power of the voting process as well as their individual voice.

We use project-based learning (one of today’s most effective educational tools) alongside real money and real democratic processes to teach students the importance of civic life. When they live the experience as youth, they’re far more likely to continue partaking in these ever-important actions when they enter adulthood.

Our process is made up of five simple steps, beginning with ideas and a budget and ending with real changes that make schools better:

  • Step 1: Discover: Students discover needs and opportunities
  • Step 2: Dream: Students dream of ways to make their school better
  • Step 3: Design: Students use design thinking to generate concrete proposals
  • Step 4: Decide: Students vote to select the best ideas
  • Step 5: Do: Students implement their proposals

If you’d like to learn more about implementing a real democratic process in your school to increase future civic engagement rates, reach out to our team at FirstRoot today. We’d be honored to play a role in this important work alongside you.