The American democratic system is not open to everyone.
Despite the promises of a government in which all citizens can play a role in determining the country’s future, a large part of our nation, namely minority and lower-income citizens, does not actively participate in our democracy. Generation Citizen (GC) aims to close this civic participation gap by engaging historically underrepresented and actively excluded youth in the democratic process. We envision a country where all people, regardless of race, class, or ethnicity, are informed actors in the democratic process.
To fulfill our mission, Generation Citizen brings trained college volunteers into high school classrooms for a semester-long, state education standards-aligned, action-oriented course on effective citizenship. Mentors and students explore how to bring substantive change through lessons centering on the political system, and the course culminates with the class taking collective action on a student-selected local issue.
Generation Citizen believes it can create lasting social change by teaching urban high-schoolers the knowledge, skills, and motivation they need to effectively participate in American democracy. Generation Citizen students learn about the political process not from textbooks, but by engaging in it—meeting with representatives, lobbying local legislators, organizing letter-writing campaigns, writing opinion pieces for newspapers, and making documentaries about community issues.
Just as we engage our high school students, Generation Citizen prepares our college mentors to be leaders committed to serving the needs of their communities, now and in the future. Our mentors gain an acute, personal sense of the civic engagement crisis through teaching and mentoring under-resourced and under-represented students in urban public high schools. We envision our mentors becoming equity-minded, participation-oriented community leaders and public servants, in education, politics, and beyond.