I am going to DC very briefly today for the launch of a new paper by Jon Zaff, Jim Youniss, and Cindy Gibson, entitled “An Inequitable Invitation to Citizenship: Non-College-Bound Youth and Civic Engagement.” The paper was commissioned by PACE (Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement) with the support of the Case Foundation, and will be released at the Case offices. It is a broad overview of the research and a strong call to action.
As the following graph from CIRCLE’s website shows, young people without any college experience are less engaged across the board than their predecessors were 30 years ago. In my view, that’s because of the collapse of institutions that could once compensate for a lack of education–metropolitan daily newspapers, grassroots political parties, broad-based social movements, and unions (most of whose young members now have college degrees).
The other crucial point to recognize is that about half of young Americans have no college experience today. Some may attend college later in their lives, but (for the time being), they are “non-college-bound youth.”