Civic Engagement

Civic engagement is another way to advocate for children. It means engaging community members from all sectors: civic business leaders; grass tops and thought leaders from the religious community, government, non-profits and neighborhoods. It also includes engaging clients or grassroots individuals in advocating for the well-being of children.

A large and wide body of research demonstrates that the well-being of children and overall community and economic development are inextricably linked. Sources include Nobel Laureate economist James Heckman, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, ReadyNation, and the Committee for Economic Development .

Vision for Children at Risk’s Children of Metropolitan St. Louis data  shows that the St. Louis area has an unusually large and geographically concentrated number of children whose basic needs are not met, and who live in areas of concentrated poverty. The East-West Gateway Coordinating Council issues a series of Where We Stand reports. These show how our region lags on many important indicators of community and economic development. Economic research strongly suggests a linkage between the disadvantage experienced by so many St. Louis children, and an array of issues related to a lack of regional growth and vitality that include flat population growth, lagging economic development and weakness in many quality of life indicators.

The status of our community’s children is a matter of vital importance to the development of the St. Louis region and requires the attention and engagement of every civic sector. Ensuring the well-being of children – related to health, early childhood development, education, fostering life skills, and workforce preparation – must be high on the business and civic agenda of the St. Louis region. A primary goal of civic engagement efforts is to move the interest and needs of children, youth and families onto the broader civic agenda – and to make them a priority. You can read about a local developing effort, the Ready by 21  initiative in St. Louis, which is based on the concept of collective impact, and the investment of the entire community in promoting child well-being.

You can find information about ways to increase civic engagement at The Center for Advances in Public Engagement, and read their Primer on Public Engagement .

Effective democracy also depends on a robust public debate and an engaged electorate. If you are looking for information on ways to involve your clients and other groups in the electoral process, visit Nonprofit Vote .