Youth Voice Matters
Young people have innate creativity, passion and power and can be the driving force for real progress in their communities. Twenty-four percent of the U.S. population is under 18 years of age. That's 75 million people with boundless energy and ingenuity that can and should be energized to tackle community issues.
However, it is rare for youth, particularly lower-income youth of color, to participate in programs that are active, engage them in thinking about the problems in their community, and ask them to play a leadership role in identifying or addressing these issues. In 2006, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Civics Assessment found that only 27% of high school seniors were "proficient" in civic skills and only 5% were "advanced." For young people of color, this situation is even bleaker.
Civic Skills are Essential
At Earth Force, we think of civic skill like any skill a young person might learn. We are not born with the ability to solve community problems, nor will reading about civic engagement provide the skills to solve complex problems. We need to develop the skills, over time, through hands-on experiences.
Research has shown that sustained participation in community problem solving programs has a lasting impact on participants. Young people who participate in sustained programs are most likely to continue habits of civic action and environmental citizenship. Earth Force is committed to creating communities where young people have multiple opportunities to practice their application of science to community problems.
Building Sustainable Communities
Engaging a community of young people requires the investment of a range of organizations. Our goal is to help community stakeholders make community problem solving an essential component of young people's education.