Youth Civic Engagement
An Initiative of the Shumer Family Fund
and LWV Minnesota
Thanks to a generous donation from League member Rob Shumer and the Shumer Family Fund, LWV Minnesota has been able to start a Youth Civic Engagement program to better integrate youth voices into our voter service activities, while also engaging youth in meaningful civic engagement work.
Encouraging young people to engage with their civic communities is easy to say, but is often difficult to accomplish. The countless demands on young people, ranging from holding a job, finishing school, and taking care of family can limit a young person’s ability to be involved in the democratic process.
Furthermore, it is important to recognize the role of engaging young people in their civic communities, especially with the increasingly diverse intersectional identities of young people. In understanding this, the work of LWV Minnesota and local Leagues must keep pace with the changing demographics and identities of current and potential civic actors.
Youth Civic Engagement Fellowship
One way to support youth participation in civic life is through our Youth Civic Engagement Fellowship, which recognizes these priorities and offers young people an opportunity to engage with their government, with the support of LWV Minnesota and its local LWV chapters across the state.
As a paid, five-month commitment, Civic Fellows engage in designing and implementing a project to aid other young people in being involved in the democratic process and making their voices heard. The Youth Civic Engagement Fellowship program also supports LWV Minnesota and local League commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and allows for stronger networks among local LWVs.
“The thing I am looking forward to most is getting to interact with other people my age to get them interested in voting, and helping them understand that their vote matters.”
“Many aspects of being involved in the community (community meetings, speaking to legislators, etc.) are very adult dominated and complex. Many young people are intimidated and don’t feel like their opinions are valid enough to be heard by important people.”
“Three valuable things that I have learned as a Fellow is to advocate, vote and engage youth in politics. As a result, I can see myself using these three valuable things in 2020 when the next presidential election happens.”
“Specifically, I want to work with other students to determine what issues matter most to young people, and then become more actively involved in advocacy at the local and state levels to work for process and change in these areas.”
“During Day at the Capitol, I went to Representative Her’s office and talked to her secretary. I dropped off a letter that urged her to support a redistricting bill. This was a really cool experience for me because I had never actually made an effort to talk to a legislator before. It was a very easy process, and I don’t think I’d be scared doing it a second time.”
“I’m very excited to register voters at my school because I think it is a really accessible thing for voter engagement. I want to increase interest and involvement in the voting process because I believe that’s the best way to bring about change.”
For more information, or to get involved, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-224-5445.
Youth Civic Engagement Groups
There are many other valuable groups working on youth civic engagement. As part of our program, we are creating a clearinghouse of programs and opportunities for youth to build their civic engagement skills and to better connect with our government and democracy. See our emerging list of local, state and national organizations.
Meet Rob Shumer
Dr. Robert Shumer has been involved in education for almost 50 years. He has taught middle school through graduate school and conducted research in many areas, from service-learning, teacher education, and character education, to career and technical education, civic engagement, and participatory evaluation.
Rob has published more than 85 articles, book chapters, and even a few books on service-learning, youth-led participatory evaluation, career and technical education, teacher education, and community-based learning. He has also taught courses and consulted in many countries around the world. He received his Masters in Educational Psychology from California State University, Northridge, and his Ph.D. in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
About the Shumer Family Fund
The Shumer Family Fund is dedicated to the legacy of Susan Shumer. She was the Director of the Center for Civic Engagement at Metropolitan State and committed to a life of active pursuit of connecting young people with the civic/democratic process. The Fellows program was established in her memory.