Civic Views of Young Adult Minorities

Diann Cameron Kelly
December 23, 2004

INTRODUCTION
Civic involvement is a powerful opportunity
in which young citizens can be more engaged in
society (Alt & Medrich, 1994; Billig, 2000; Gray,
Ondaatje, Zakaras, 1999; Kleiner & Chapman,
2000; Torney-Purta, Amadeo & Richardson,
2003). It provides young citizens with various
opportunities to see themselves as contributing
members to the community-at-large (Billig,
2000; Gray, et al., 1999; Kelly, 2002a; Kleiner &
Chapman, 2000; O?Donnell, Michalak, & Ames,
1997; Parker & Franco, 1999; Rosenthal, Feiring,
& Lewis, 1998; Torney-Purta, et al., 2003). Civic
involvement enhances citizenship and civic
engagement, allowing young citizens to develop
a sense of community as an extension of their
identities (Gray, et al., 1999; Kelly, 2002a; Kleiner
& Chapman, 2000; McDevitt, Kiousis, Wu, Losch
& Ripley, 2003; O?Donnell, et al., 1997; Parker &
Franco, 1999).
However, for many minority youth, being
engaged with society is a more comprehensive,
cultural issue than merely voting, joining
mainstream member organizations or volunteering
through traditional service groups (Flanagan,
Bowes, Jonsson, Csapo, & Sheblanova, 1998;
Schlozman, Verba & Brady, 1999; Torney-Purta, et
al., 2003; Yates & Youniss, 1998; Watts, Griffith,
& Abdul-Adil, 1999). Existing literature shows
that young citizens who are reared in communities
or have regular contact with social settings that
maintain an unequal distribution of power with
society at large are less likely to engage in civic
life and feel alienated from civic and political
institutions (Flanagan, et al., 1998; Reese &
Rosenfeld, 2002; Schlozman, et al., 1999; Torney-
Purta, et al., 2003; Yates & Youniss, 1998; Watts,
Griffith, & Abdul-Adil, 1999). This is especially
true for minority youths and young adults who,
during their early years, may not have had strong
civic influences or access to service opportunities
(Kelly, 2002a; O?Donnell, et al., 1997; Parker &
Franco, 1999; Torney-Purta, et al., 2003; Yates &
Youniss, 1998). The following presents the civic
views of young adult minorities and outcomes in
their civic behavior as results of their relationships
within kinship communities and educational/youth
mentoring communities.
LITERATURE REVIEW
Social and political scientists emphasize
that social ties and shared norms enhance selfsufficiency,
and help sustain civic engagement
(Bowen & Bok, 1998; Putnam, 2000; Skocpol &
Fiorina, 1999). Civic engagement, in particular,
ensures the development of individual capacities,
and allows for citizens to become more
independent, competent, and take responsibility
for their interests and those of the community
(Billig, 2000; Reese & Rosenfeld, 2002;
Schlozman, et al., 1999; Skocpol & Fiorina, 1999;
Zaff, Malanchuk, Michelsen & Eccles, 2003).
These building blocks ? service-learning,
group-based community service projects, and
required or mandated community service,
facilitate the acquisition of civic skill sets and
an understanding of one?s responsibility to and
lasting appreciation for the governance of their
community early in our development (Gray, et
al., 1999; Kleiner & Chapman, 2000; Reese &
Rosenfeld, 2002; Torney-Purta, et al., 2003).
However, this lasting appreciation for civic service
and participation begins early in one?s development
through relationships and social memberships
(formal and informal) that place a high regard
for civic participation (Bowen & Bok, 1998; Kelly,
2002a; Putnam, 2000; Rahn, et al., 1999; Reese
& Rosenfeld, 2002; Rich, 1999; Schlozman, et al.,
1999).
This assertion is based on the socio-cultural
notion that civic engagement is a cognitive,
affective and behavioral process that emerges
from communities of practice. Communities of
practice refer to the systems with which young
adults are exposed (Reese & Rosenfeld, 2002;
Torney-Purta, et al., 2003). It is from the social
interactions within these systems that individuals
are exposed to the civic beliefs, feelings and
actions of the community (O?Donnell, et al., 1997;
Parker & Franco, 1999; Reese & Rosenfeld, 2002;
Torney-Purta, et al., 2003; Watts, et al., 1999;
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CIRCLE Working Paper 25: December 2004 Civic Views of Young Adult Minorities
Yates & Youniss, 1998). Thus, communities of
practice can promote or inhibit human relatedness,
social competence, efficacy (self and external)
and self-direction as it relates to prosocial civic
behaviors of civic engagement and an identity
of citizen-in-community (Bronfenbrenner, 1986;
Fletcher, Elder & Mekos, 2000; Reese & Rosenfeld,
2002; Rosenthal, et al., 1998; Torney-Purta, et al.,
2003).
Citizen-in-community refers to the
relationship between the citizen and the civic
culture of the community (Reese & Rosenfeld,
2002; Torney-Purta, et al., 2003). Through service
learning, adult modeling of behavior, community
messages regarding civic participation, easy access
to governance, and service performed early in
one?s development, young citizens learn how to
serve as well as the importance of civic service to
the social and economic infrastructure of the local
community (Billig, 2000; Gray, et al., 1999; Kelly,
2000a; Reese and Rosenfeld, 2002; Torney-Purta,
2003). The way of life in a specific community
context offers overt and subtle nuances of what
is expected of citizens to control the destiny of
their community (Reese and Rosenfeld, 2002;
Rosenthal, et al., 1998; Torney-Purta, et al., 2003;
Watts, et al., 1999).
There are two communities of practice that
can facilitate early socialization into civic culture
? kinship communities and educational or youth
mentoring communities (Joseph, 1992; Reese &
Rosenfeld, 2002; Torney-Purta, et al., 2003). The
kinship community primarily consists of parent,
sibling or other relative, while the educational/
youth mentoring community can consist of
classroom settings, sports programs, or academic
mentoring programs (Horvat and Antonio, 1999;
Reese and Rosenfeld, 2002). Both communities
promote a set of core beliefs, expectations and
social experiences that are value-specific and
relevant to the community to ensure full civic
participation in the greater society of its citizens
(Billig, 2000; Joseph, 1992; Kelly, 2002b; Rich,
1999). Further, both communities provide formal
and informal traditions of passing on knowledge,
skills and wisdom to less experienced, younger
individuals (Joseph, 1992; Kelly, 2002a; Kelly,
2002b; Torney-Purta, et al., 2003). It is through
positive identification with the values, expectations
and culture of the community that individuals are
likely to feel engaged with society.
KINSHIP COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE
Parents are viable resources and role
models that influence future civic behaviors of
youths. The caregiving environment or community
facilitates the socialization of youth into society
(Cheng, 2004; Ermisch & Francesconi, 2001;
Hess & Holloway, 1984; McDevitt, et al., 2003;
Morrison Gutman & Eccles, 1999; Peters, 1995;
Rosenthal, et al., 1998; Schneider & Younger,
1996). Moreover, the concept of ?fictive kinship,?
in communities of color, serves as an adaptive
strategy to ensuring positive socialization in and
access to a broad social network (Arroyo & Zigler,
1995; Billingsley, 1992; Fordham & Ogbu, 1986;
Harrison, Wilson, Pine, Chan & Buriel, 1990).
Fictive kinship is the caregiving and mutual
aid system among individuals who are not related
by blood or marriage, and who share a social
and economic relationship (Billingsley, 1992;
Harrison, et al., 1990). This relationship serves
to buttress the child through periods of conflict,
stress or discord (Billingsley, 1992; Fletcher, et
al., 2000; Harrison, et al., 1990; McDevitt, et al.,
2003). In communities of color, fictive kinships are
ecological systems with shared ancestral history
and social plight (Billingsley, 1992; Harrison, et
al., 1990). According to Billingsley (1992), these
?relationships of appropriation? have built-in
mechanisms to promote civic engagement through
existing models of caregiving and mutual aid.
Research has shown that altruistic-rich,
caregiving environments facilitate positive bonding
and interaction between parent and youth, and
increase the likelihood of communication about
altruistic activities beyond the home (Flanagan,
et al., 1998; Fletcher, et al., 2000; Gunnoe,
Hetherington & Reiss, 1999; McDevitt, et al., 2003,
Rosenthal, et al., 1998; Torney-Purta, et al., 2003).
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Civic Views of Young Adult Minorities
In particular, the extended family social networks
in communities of color comprise blood relatives
and fictive kin where the social development of
children is a shared concern (Fletcher, et al., 2000;
Rosenthal, et al., 1998; Scannapieco & Jackson,
1996). Kinship care alone is an adaptive, resilient
civic response to child care crises in the family
(Scannapieco & Jackson, 1996). As an instrument
of mutual aid and civic duty, kinship care nurtures
and protects children who are separated from their
parents (Scannapieco & Jackson, 1996).
Unfortunately, less than 50% of youth
today volunteer in their communities and the
rate is lower for youth of color in economically
disadvantaged neighborhoods (Kelly, 2002a;
Watts, Griffith & Abdul-Adil, 1999; Yates &
Youniss, 1998; Zaff, Malanchuk, Michelsen, &
Eccles, 2003). According to one longitudinal
study of 1000 African American youth, when
caregivers modeled civic behavior through their
own volunteerism, the maturing youth were more
likely to be involved in volunteering activities (Zaff,
et al., 2003). Researchers in this study found that
parent modeling of civic behaviors is significantly
associated with positive citizenship engagement
among youth (Zaff, et al., 2003). Further, research
by Fletcher, et al. (2000) found that youths with
socially engaged parents were more likely to
become involved in community activities and to
sustain their involvement over time. This supports
the assertion by McDevitt, et al. (2003) that
once political and civic communication become a
family norm in the caregiving environment, the
maturing youth?s civic interest is promoted and
self-sustaining.
However, contextual risk factors within
the caregiving environment can diminish the
likelihood that youth engage in self-governance and
service to the community (Fletcher, et al., 2000;
Rosenthal, et al., 1998; Torney-Purta, et al., 2003).
Established research shows that poverty, resident
mobility, family size, maternal employment and
immigration are structural contexts in a caregiving
environment that can weaken a child?s societal
bond (McLoyd, 1990; Sampson & Laub, 1994). If
parents and caregivers disengage from societyat-
large, or do not believe in their capacity to
effectively contribute to their self-governance and
civic service, it is highly likely that the young adult
will disengage from society (Burns & Kinder, 2000;
Fletcher, et al., 2000; Schlozman, et al., 1999).
This assertion models the works of Rosenthal, et
all. (1998) and Torney-Purta, et al. (2004) who
suggest that early relationships in caregiving
environments influence prosocial civic behaviors
as well as feelings of external efficacy and general
social trust among young adult minorities.
Thus, familial caregivers serve as
protective agents providing information, learning
opportunities and resources that promote healthy
development and prosocial behaviors of youth
into early adulthood (Cheng, 2004; Fletcher, et
al., 2000; McDevitt, et al., 2003; Rosenthal, et al.,
1998; Wang, Haertel & Walberg, 1993).
YOUTH MENTORING COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE
Educational/youth mentoring programs
can offer a distinct opportunity for sustaining
civic engagement, and can promote positive
social factors that aid the individual in affecting
change in their own lives and those of others
through community service (Kelly, 2002a; Gray,
et al., 1999; McDevitt, et al., 2003; O?Donnell, et
al., 1997; Zaff, et al., 2003). Youth mentoring
programs influence engagement in the community
by spurring the cognitive notion that the young
citizen is a contributor to society (Joseph, 1992;
Kelly 2002a; McDevitt, et al., 2003). These
programs promote positive social interaction with
adult mentors and peers as well as social group
identification (Arroyo & Zigler, 1995; Joseph, 1992;
McDevitt, et al., 2003; O?Donnell, et al., 1997;
Phinney, Cantu, & Kurtz, 1997).
The domain of social group identification
comprises the values, beliefs, abilities, social
experiences, cultural norms and history of a
specific social network group (Arroyo & Zigler,
1995; Deaux, 2000; Ellemers, Kortekaas &
Ouwekerk, 1999; Phinney, et al., 1997). It is the
awareness of clear boundaries based upon social
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CIRCLE Working Paper 25: December 2004 Civic Views of Young Adult Minorities
acceptance, language, power and status and other
derivatives that require an internalization of the
norms and values of the social group as well as an
emotional attachment to the group with a sense of
individual sacrifice (Arroyo & Zigler, 1995; Deaux,
2000; Ellemers, et al., 1999; Phinney, et al., 1997;
Tajfel, 1982).
Through the formation of their social group
identity, a young citizen attempts to balance group
identification needs and one?s own personal desire
for a positive relationship with the larger society
(Arroyo & Zigler, 1995; Deaux, 2000; Ellemers,
et al., 1999; Fordham & Ogbu, 1986; Phinney,
et al., 1997; Tajfel, 1982). If this balance is not
achieved through self-categorization, the young
citizen may experience feelings of alienation,
anxiety, depression or loss of identity (Arroyo &
Zigler, 1995; Deaux, 2000; Ellemers, et al., 1999;
Phinney, et al., 1997).
Self-categorization is an internal process
through which a member of a low-power group
can reconstruct their social identity outside their
direct experience with the high power group or
dominant culture (Deaux, 2000; Ellemers, et al.,
1999). This process is particularly salient for
persons of color who look to other forms of social
belonging outside the dominant group through the
following adaptive, resilient strategies ? building
own social organizations or groups; producing
own social resources; and/or developing own civic
opportunities and vehicles (Deaux, 2000; Ellemers,
et al., 1999; Nakamura, Ostu, Taniyama, & Drake,
2001).
By influencing this positive social interaction
within social groups like youth mentoring
programs designed to promote social integration
and cohesion, young adults are able to transfer
those positive attachments to their school and
community environments to inform healthy civic
processes with individuals and groups in their
communities (Ellemers, et al., 1999; Joseph,
1992; Phinney, et al., 1997). Further, through
the collection of group activities, youth mentoring
programs promote positive social factors ? selfesteem,
locus of control, external efficacy, general
trust, and self-determination ? that can help the
individual affect change in their own lives and
those of others through community service (Arroyo
& Zigler, 1995; Deaux, 2000; Ellemers, et al.,
1999; Phinney, et al., 1997). This is accomplished
by immersing the youth in a mentor-rich
environment for approximately five years to ensure
he or she is an adaptive, committed individual
(Kelly, 2002b).
In a study on service learning and
community service, of the 26,000 students who
attended schools where community service was
mandated and service placements were arranged,
approximately 5,000 students were more likely to
perform community service (Kleiner & Chapman,
2000). In the same study, researchers found
that while Blacks and Latinos were less likely
to participate in community service, Black and
Latinos were more likely to participate in service
learning (Kleiner & Chapman, 2000; Kelly, 2002a).
This suggests that while Blacks and Latinos were
more likely to fulfill the academic requirements
regarding service, these requirements alone were
not sufficient enough to sustain the performance of
service into young adulthood.
Both kinship communities of practice
and youth mentor communities of practice are
caregiving, supportive environments that have the
ability to model civic behavior, instill an expectation
of performing civic duties, and perpetuate core
beliefs about the history of and benefits from civic
engagement beyond the community of practice.
Unfortunately, evidence shows too many minorities
remain disengaged from the social fabric of society
(Fletcher, et al., 2000; Kleiner & Chapman, 2000;
Rosenthal, et al., 1998; Schlozman, et al., 1999;
Torney-Purta, et al., 2003; Watts, et al., 1999;
Yates & Youniss, 1998). Thus, it is critical to
explore with a subset of minorities specific views
toward civic service and elements that may sustain
or thwart civic engagement.
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Civic Views of Young Adult Minorities
METHODOLOGY
The purpose of the qualitative study was to
explore how young adult minorities interpret civic
engagement, as well as the meaningful processes
and actions that emerge from their interpretation.
According to Strauss & Corbin (1990), grounded
theory allows us to study subjects or areas
we know little about. Grounded theory allows
conceptual models to emerge from immersion in
the field of study and data collection. This allows
themes to become known that can clarify the area
under study (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Strauss &
Corbin, 1990). While research exists that defines
and measures even minority civic and political
participation, grounded theory is helpful in allowing
us to further explore reasons and rationales for
minority participation in specific civic vehicles.
RESEARCH BACKGROUND
This qualitative exploration emerged
from a descriptive study on how participation in
youth mentoring programs influenced educational
outcomes, quality of life satisfaction, well-being
and community service involvement. In February,
2002, a group of 131 young adults were exposed
to a quantitative study occurring within eight years
of their high school graduation and participation
in a group mentoring program. The study group
consisted of economically disadvantaged, high
achieving persons of color between the ages of
20 through 27 years. Respondents came from
communities throughout the nation ? New York,
California, Massachusetts, Texas, Louisiana, Ohio,
New Jersey, Illinois, and Maryland.
From data collected, the 131 respondents
indicated significant connections between civic
participation during adolescence and civic
participation in young adulthood. With 40% of
the respondents identified as male, and 60%
female, the study found that more than 75% of
respondents participated in some form of service
(formal and informal) in adulthood; 11% of the
respondents participated in national service;
and, 15% of the sample held some position in
community leadership. These results provide a
framework for the qualitative study to explore and
present the civic views of young minority adults.
THE STUDY SAMPLE & FOCUS GROUP
The qualitative study consisted of a detailed,
online survey that allowed respondents to present
a reflective journal on their civic experiences from
adolescence to young adulthood. The principal
investigator returned to the 131 respondents
requesting participation in the web-based focus
group. Out of the three initial mailings, only 29
respondents expressed an interest in being involved
in a focus group. Much of the contact between
the principal investigator and the respondents
occurred via internet-based interaction. The
survey used by the respondents lived on a website
? www.groupmentor.com, and respondents were
provided with detailed instructions on how to
access the file and input their responses.
Journal entries from the online survey took
an average of two to three weeks on average
for respondents to complete and return to the
principal investigator. Regular follow-up through
additional mailings (a total of three) were required
to ensure respondents? reflective journals were
completed. Upon receiving the consent form
and website-access protocols, seven individuals
dropped immediately from the group citing ?time
constraints.? An additional nine respondents
either did not complete the journal survey or
continuously replied they were ?working on it.? All
group members received a promise of a monetary
incentive to complete the online journal. Thus,
using a focus group of 13 respondents from
the previous study, the information obtained
was acquired to learn more about young adult
minorities? views on civic service.
The journal survey consisted of 34 openended,
semi-structured questions within ten (10)
areas (Table 1). These questions included ?In
looking back on your years of voting since turning
18 years of age, are you now more likely or less
likely to believe your vote counts? Please explain??
Or, it included questions such as ?How would you
characterize your level of satisfaction with service
performed? (Describe your satisfaction with what
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CIRCLE Working Paper 25: December 2004 Civic Views of Young Adult Minorities
you do or have done in serving others?)?
DATA ANALYSIS
Each journal entry was downloaded from the
server and converted to a text file (ASCII format;
.txt). The text files were transferred to Atlasti, a
qualitative data management program. Coding of
data occurred by coding each reflection according
to questions posed. After, the data were initially
reviewed for emerging themes. These initial
themes were
1) strength of party affiliation;
2) degree of political efficacy;
3) level of participation in group mentoring;
4) level of parents? involvement in youth
program activities;
5) types of service performed by
respondents;
6) degree of commitment to service in
adulthood;
7) level of satisfaction with service;
8) factors influencing civic service;
9) extent of philanthropy; and,
10) level of volunteerism.
A second analysis of the data yielded
three categories (?families?) emerging as notions
of civic engagement ? 1) cognitive concepts; 2)
affective concepts; and, 3) behavioral concepts.
In reviewing the initial themes and the emerging
categories, nine themes emerged from the data
analysis and were grouped by the three concepts of
civic engagement:
1) Cognitive
a) commitment to service
b) external/political efficacy
c) beliefs surrounding influential factors
d) beliefs surrounding parents?
involvement in youth program
activities
2) Affective
a) satisfaction with service
b) satisfaction with party affiliation
3) Behavioral
a) performance of service
b) philanthropy
c) voting
Using these three categories, respondents?
ID numbers were converted to pseudonyms
to preserve confidentiality of the respondents
and to provide a better characterization of each
respondent. Then, respondents were clustered
according to service history and proximity to
the composite of an ?ideal volunteer? ? a nonexisting
?constant? with a history of strong service
(more than 100 hours) in high school, college and
adulthood (See Figure A)
RESULTS
Of the 13 respondents in the focus group,
there were four males and nine females (Table
2). The group consists of respondents who
participated in the first study on educational
achievement and service. These respondents were
competitively selected to participate in a group
mentoring academic-enrichment program as early
as middle school. These academic enrichment
programs provide academic support, community
service placement and other enrichment and youth
development activities throughout the respondents?
high school and college careers. Further, due to
the needs-based components of the programs
in providing outreach services and support to
economically disadvantaged families, respondents
were once classified as ?disadvantaged, high
achieving students of color,? each sharing similar
academic and socioeconomic histories.
RELATIONSHIP TO CONSTANT
The ideal respondent (a.k.a. the ?constant?)
exhibits a strong level of service (more than 100
hours per year) in high school, college and early
adulthood. Moderate level of service refers to 50
hours to 100 hours per year, and weak level of
service refers to less than 50 hours of service per
year. The following provides a brief summary of
each individual, with an emphasis on their level of
service as portrayed in Figure A.
?Archie? is a 22 year old African American
male, with a strong level of service performed
in high school and college. He attended a public
high school, and completed college at a selective
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Civic Views of Young Adult Minorities
private university. A former participant of a group
mentoring program in Louisiana, Archie exhibited
a moderate level of service in early adulthood.
As shown in Figure A, Archie is very close to the
representation of the ideal respondent.
?Ella? is a 23 year old African American
female from a group mentoring program in Ohio.
She went to public school for her final year after
attending a private school for three years. She did
enroll in a selective university, but did not complete
the program. She eventually completed her higher
education at a community college. Maintaining a
close proximity to the constant, Ella performed a
weak level of service in high school and college,
and a moderate level of service in the year prior
to the study. She attributes this increase in her
civic activities to her religious identification with
Christianity, and expressed that ?I am constantly
giving and serving others and my goal is to please
and satisfy people. When that person is happy and
pleased, then that makes me happy, and I feel that
my goal was accomplished.?
?Meris? is a 22 year old Hispanic female who
attended a preparatory day school during her high
school years and a public university. She exhibited
a moderate level of service performed in high
school and college. A former participant of a group
mentoring program in Illinois, Meris exhibited a
weak level of service in young adulthood. Given
this decrease in service, there are interesting
characteristics of Meris? service given her proximity
to the ideal respondent. Currently, Meris is a
board member of a state-wide cultural institution
that serves the interests and needs of the state?s
Hispanic residents and their communities. While
Meris did not actively participate in her group
mentoring program on a regular basis, she credits
her program for instilling in her the value of giving
back to society. ?If it were not for these types of
programs, I would not be where I am today. It
taught me that there are resources out there to
help everyone and that it is important to give
back.? Meris is the first in her family to attend and
complete college.
?Lynda? is a 26 year old African American
female from the same group mentoring program
as Ella. She attended a Catholic school during
her high school years. Also, Lynda completed
college and an advanced degree at a non-selective
college. Lynda exhibited a strong level of service
in high school and college. However, during early
adulthood, Lynda exhibited a weak level of service.
She is at the mid-point between the remaining
respondents and the constant. It appears that
Lynda?s service is more informal, in other words
helping others as she goes about her daily
activities. Also, Lynda is one of the respondents
earning less than $15,000 per year at the time of
this study. However, within this study group, she
was the only one unemployed and searching for
employment, and she did not use this available
time for formal volunteerism within or outside her
community.
?Olivia? is a 25 year old bi-racial female
who participated in the same program as Ella and
Lynda. In addition to attending Catholic school
during her high school years, she also completed
college and an advanced degree at a non-selective
college. Olivia exhibited a strong level of service
performed in high school and college. However,
during early adulthood, Olivia exhibited a weak
level of service. Olivia, also, is at the mid-point
between the remaining respondents and the
constant. She indicated that she used to help out
a lot more than she currently is helping. ?I used
to be required to do service? [but now] I have
other commitments and I live pretty far away from
services where I could volunteer.? Similar to Lynda,
Olivia?s service is very informal including ?being
kind to others and saying hello to someone who
looks sad or going out of your way to open a door
for someone.?
?Ben? is a 24 year old immigrant male
from the Caribbean, who identifies himself as
a Black male. A former student at a private
boarding school, he completed college at a fouryear
private university and participated in a
group mentoring program in New York City. Ben
exhibited a moderate level of service in high school.
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CIRCLE Working Paper 25: December 2004 Civic Views of Young Adult Minorities
During college and early adulthood, however, Ben
exhibited a weak level of service. Ben is removed
from proximity to the constant as most of his
service activities were college-club focused, and
very irregular. Thus, the amount of service he
performed in his younger years could not sustain
active civic service into early adulthood.
?Jack? is a 23 year old African American
male. He exhibited a moderate level of service
in high school, which was a private boarding
school. A former student of a selective university,
Jack exhibited a weak level of service performed
in college and adulthood. He participated in the
same group mentoring program as Ben. Like Ben,
Jack is removed from proximity to the constant.
His service was more focused on raising funds for
health issues such as breast cancer awareness
through marathons and other awareness-event
vehicles.
?Colin? is a 23 year old African American
male from a group mentoring program in Maryland.
With support from his group mentoring program,
Colin attended a private day school, and a public
college. Far from proximity to the constant, Colin
exhibits a weak level of service from high school
through early adulthood. Colin attributes this civic
deficit to time. ?I don?t have the time to involve
myself in community activities? primarily because
I?ve worked 2, 3, sometimes 4 jobs at a time
for most of the years since I?ve graduated from
high school and have little extra time to invest in
community service.? However, Colin expressed
more involvement in informal ways of helping
others, similar to Lynda and Olivia.
?Gemma? is a 25 year old African
American female. In addition to participating in
a group mentoring program in the Bronx, New
York, Gemma is also in ?officer training? in the
United States military where she is also studying
to be a physician. In addition to attending a
private boarding school, Gemma also attended a
private four year college. Outside of her military
commitments, her level of community service is
weak from high school to adulthood. She indicates
that her current vocation is her service. Gemma
expressed a high value should be placed on
civic service. She characterizes civic service as
honorable, which places the welfare and good of
the public ahead of person providing the service.
?The individual may receive employment but
the principle is that individual gives up valuable
commodities such as energy and time to devote
to the public good who may or may not give the
individual anything in return.? It is important to
note that Gemma always desired to join the U.S.
armed forces, and completed college in order to
fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming an officer.
Thus, Gemma is an anomaly among the members
of the study group and the constant, as her
vocational choice is service to others.
?Harmony? is a 23 year old African American
female who participated in a group mentoring
program in Ohio. She attended a college
preparatory boarding school, and also attended
a historically Black college. Harmony is the only
respondent who expressed a strong dissatisfaction
with her high school teachers and did not feel as
if she ?belonged? within this elite, predominately
White educational community. She shares a distant
proximity to the constant with Colin and Gemma.
Harmony exhibits a weak level of service from high
school through early adulthood. Although Harmony
places a high value on the performance of service
in the community, she also cites the limited time
she has to perform service.
?Ana Lee? is a 25 year old female who
emigrated from the Caribbean. She identifies
herself as African American. Ana Lee attended a
private boarding school, and also attended a fouryear
private college, which she completed in six
years. Ana Lee exhibited a strong level of service
in high school due to the requirements of the group
mentoring program in New York City. However,
her level of service in college and early adulthood
was weak. Ana Lee is one of three members far
removed from the constant. She cites a need to
attend to her own personal goals of ?getting a
college degree, getting married, and relocating for
a better job.? Currently, Ana Lee is an educator in
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Civic Views of Young Adult Minorities
the Northeast and is seeking a graduate degree to
be more competitive in the field of education.
?Gia? is a 26 year old African American
female who participated in a group mentoring
program in Maryland. With support from her group
mentoring program, Gia attended a private day
school and a public university. She exhibited a
strong level of service in high school specifically
because of the requirements of the group
mentoring program. However, her level of service
in college and adulthood was weak. Gia is also
farthest removed from the constant. However, she
expressed a strong belief in the benefits of service.
?I think it?s very important - it gives you a better
understanding of your community, and gives you
more of a stake in its success. It?s like ?putting a
face on the issue,?? [c]ompassion leads to action.?
However Gia admitted she has not performed
service on a consistent basis since high school. ?No
excuse really - just didn?t make the time.?
Finally, ?Charlotte? is a 23 year old multiracial
female, who identifies herself as White. She
attended a local Catholic high school, and a public
university. Charlotte exhibited a strong level of
service in high school due to the requirements of
the group mentoring program that was located in
Louisiana. After high school, her level of service
in college and adulthood was weak. Charlotte
admits that she performed service in high school
because of the requirements. However, she cites a
strong commitment to her city and its surrounding
areas, which is expressed through her keeping
?up with things that are going on in my area and
I vote on a regular basis.? Currently, Charlotte is
a graduate student, and she expressed that she
gets ?immense satisfaction from serving others? by
donating clothes and things to her community on a
regular basis.
COGNITIVE CONCEPTS
The following discusses the cognitive
concepts or notions of civic engagement ?
commitment to service, external/political efficacy,
beliefs surrounding influential factors, beliefs
surrounding parents involvement in youth program
activities.
COMMITMENT TO SERVICE
Level of commitment to service was
expressed through the following areas ? extremely
committed, committed, somewhat committed, not
very committed, not committed. When looking at
the study group, only five respondents (all female)
appeared more committed to service in adulthood
than the other respondents.
Meris and Charlotte presented as ?extremely
committed? to service. Meris expressed she was
extremely committed to service in adulthood, as
her service is performed through her community
leadership as well as her mentoring of at-risk
youth. She cited that ?[c]ommitment is shown
through time and resources dedicated.? Charlotte,
on the other hand, indicated her commitment
is expressed through her regular voting and her
service to others through her in-kind gifts.
Lynda, Olivia and Ella presented as
?committed? to service. Lynda expressed a strong
interest in her community and its improvement,
while Olivia expressed being committed to service
but also trying to balance this commitment with
her responsibilities to her family. Ella cited her
commitment as a result of her religious beliefs.
?An individual?s commitment
to serving others is being
dedicated and dependable,
and following through with
your service? I feel that I am
constantly serving others and I
believe that is important in life,
because I am a Christian?.?
Ana Lee, Jack, Archie and Colin presented
as ?somewhat committed? to service. Ana Lee
expressed that commitment is the ?amount of
hours? spent serving others. However, because
of time constraints in her life, she is unable
to contribute her time to serving others. Jack
indicated that commitment is measured by serving
through one?s career choice or as a volunteer.
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CIRCLE Working Paper 25: December 2004 Civic Views of Young Adult Minorities
However, his service is more focused on performing
indirect service ? such as marathons and raising
awareness through event planning ? because ?it
requires less of? his time. Finally, Colin expressed
that ?commitment to serving others would be
shown by the effort, time, and heart an individual
puts into helping others.? While this is his view of
service, he cited little time or effort to contribute to
helping others. However, Archie indicated a belief
that
?[a] person?s commitment can be
measure[d] by the consistency
and amount of effort that is
given to community service. It
cannot be measured based on the
medi[um] through which service
is provided, nor [whether it is
convenient].?
As such, Archie views his level of commitment to
service as very low because many of his activities
are not performed outside of his church.
Ben, Gemma and Gia presented as ?not
very committed? to service. Ben sees commitment
to service as defined more by organizing events
and raising awareness. He expressed that ?I have
? helped organize little things like information
sessions or seminars, but never really fully knowing
or grasping how to be more involved. I just helped
however I could to help push a message across.?
Thus, due to his lack of service during the early
years of his development, there is little knowledge
of vehicles that can facilitate his performance
of service and engagement in the community.
Gemma characterized her commitment as low
because ?I do not have time or energy to spare.?
However, Gemma views service as a lifelong
vocation and the ?involvement of the individual in
the public workings of a community however large
or small. This involvement isn?t limited to politics
but can incorporate actions such as reconstruction
of public works or protection of the public as in
fire company volunteer.? Gia, finally, characterizes
commitment as a ?consistent pattern of support
over time, either financially or by volunteering
one?s time.? She indicated her commitment is
minimal because of time constraints, although she
does donate to charity on an annual basis.
Finally, Harmony presented as ?not
committed? to service. Since her work is in medical
research, she feels she?s doing her part ?improving
the health of others.? Harmony expressed that she
does not have an interest in service beyond the
parameters of her vocation.
EXTERNAL/POLITICAL EFFICACY
Respondents were evaluated on the
degree of external/political efficacy from their
responses. The areas are strong external efficacy;
moderate external efficacy; and weak external
efficacy. Lynda, Ella, Harmony and Charlotte
exhibited strong external efficacy in their responses
and strongly believed their votes counted. In
particular, Harmony expressed that she knew her
vote counted because of her faith, and Charlotte
believed her vote affected outcomes in her
community.
Olivia, Meris, Archie and Gia exhibited
moderate external efficacy in their responses.
Olivia believed her voted counted, but not in
races where candidates were pre-selected by
party brokers. Meris indicated that she was more
inclined to participate more in local races and
school board elections rather than participate in
national elections, as she had ?mixed feelings about
this ever since the 200[0] Presidential campaign.?
Archie concurs with Meris and is more inclined
to vote in local elections because ?there are no
electoral colleges at these levels of governments.?
Finally, Gia believes in voting but admits she is still
too cynical.
Colin, Jack, Gemma, and Ben and Ana Lee
exhibited weak external efficacy. Colin admitted
that he never had a desire to vote until after
the 2000 Presidential election. Jack had the
opposite outcome as the 2000 Presidential election
decreased his desire to vote. Gemma, on the
other hand, does not believe her vote counts or
that she has any power in the governance of her
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Civic Views of Young Adult Minorities
community or nation. However, she expressed that
she continues to vote every year ?because I believe
that I should continue to apply my tiny measure
of power to effect change because I do not see
the future.? The two respondents who immigrated
to the United States while they were children
also exhibited a weak level of external efficacy.
Ben strongly believed that votes count more in
suburban areas that are less likely to be populated
by persons of color, and Ana Lee also expressed
that she did not believe her vote counted. Among
all of the respondents, Ben and Ana Lee were the
only respondents to specifically cite Florida as their
example, and were passionate in their responses
about the political losses for people of color in
Florida.
BELIEFS SURROUNDING INFLUENTIAL PERSONS
OR GROUPS
When probed who or what influenced their
civic service and beliefs about civic service, there
was an interesting range of answers from this
study group. The influential persons or groups
were 1) parent(s); 2) group mentoring program; 3)
religion; 4) teachers; 5) peers; 6) adult mentors;
and, 7) other persons or groups.
Respondents who believed their parents
to be an influential factor were Ella, Ana Lee,
Jack, Colin, and Lynda. Ella strongly believed her
parents were most influential in shaping her beliefs
about, commitment to and actions in volunteerism
and voting. Colin, Jack and Ana Lee believed
the parental influence was secondary to another
influencing factor, especially Colin. Lynda believed
the parental influence was somewhat influential,
but not a significant or secondary factor.
Ana Lee, Jack, Lynda, Olivia and Meris
believed their group mentoring program was
influential in shaping their beliefs about,
commitment to and actions in volunteerism
and voting. In particular, Jack, Lynda, Olivia
and Ana Lee felt strongly the values of their
group mentoring program influenced their civic
behaviors. Meris believed her group mentoring
program was somewhat influential, but not as
significantly as the others. More importantly,
given Ana Lee?s immigrant status she received
a wealth of support services from her group
mentoring program, including financial support and
college preparedness services. She indicated she
?positively identifies? with the values of her group
mentoring program.
Only four respondents believed religion
influenced their service. Gia, Colin, Archie and
Ella all expressed that religion played a significant
role in their beliefs about volunteerism and voting.
Colin, in particular, when asked ?Who or what
inspired you to participate in voluntary activities?
??, he replied ?God. Other than that, no one.?
With respect to beliefs surrounding
teachers (secondary school and college), only two
respondents believed their teachers influenced their
service. Ben and Ana Lee believed their teachers
played a secondary role in influencing their beliefs
about, commitment to, and actions in service.
Adult mentors were significant to Ana
Lee, Ben and Meris. They expressed that their
adult mentors left favorable impressions on them
about ?giving back? to the community. Meris,
in particular, expressed that her adult mentor, a
director of a non-profit youth program outside of
her group mentoring program, inspired her and
made her see various avenues of giving back to
the community. ?I wanted to do something to
help other students like me?? she noted as she
continues to support and contribute to her former
mentor?s program. Ana Lee indicated that her adult
mentor, a director with a large insurance company,
was critical to her development. Unfortunately, the
mentoring relationship was too brief for Ana Lee.
Also, Meris, Ben and Ana Lee were the only
respondents who believed peer mentoring to have
influenced their service to others. While Ben and
Ana Lee both indicated in their responses that
peer mentoring was somewhat influential, Meris
indicated that it was the most significant of all
factors. Meris fondly remembers the relationships
forged from peer mentoring and the benefits that
emerged from these relationships. She indicated
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CIRCLE Working Paper 25: December 2004 Civic Views of Young Adult Minorities
that peer mentoring ?made me want to be a Peer
Mentor and I continue to mentor!?
Finally, six respondents identified other
influential factors they believed spurred their
commitment to and actions with service. Ben, in
particular, believed his private college influenced
his views about service, while Olivia believes
National Public Radio also influenced her views
about service. Jack believed Black pioneers
such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X
influenced his views, Ella believed the Americorps
institution influenced her beliefs even though
she did not participate in national service. Only
two respondents believed one factor influenced
their views about, commitment to and actions
with volunteerism and voting ? Gemma and
Harmony, two individuals who are significantly
removed from the constant. Gemma believes
her own views about service influenced her
commitment to and actions with volunteerism and
voting. She indicated that as long as she could
remember ?I had already committed [myself]
to a level of service with the [military] and as a
doctor.? Harmony believed that being helped as a
youth influenced her civic experiences into young
adulthood.
BELIEFS SURROUNDING PARENT INVOLVEMENT
IN YOUTH ACTIVITIES
Of all the areas, beliefs surrounding parent
involvement in respondents? youth activities were
bleak. Only three respondents believed their
parents actively participated in the activities
that shaped their education and lives during
adolescence. Those respondents are Ella, Archie
and Jack.
Ella?s parents were very involved with
her school work as well as her group mentoring
program activities. Further, Ella?s parents continue
to involve themselves in her youth program and
volunteer to assist other parents nine years after
Ella left the program. Archie?s parents not only
participated in the group mentoring program but
also regularly volunteered their time in his school
and in the program. Archie asserts that his parents
modeled civic behavior to the other youths in the
program to the degree that his parents are still
remembered by adult alumni of the program. ?My
dad also volunteered for our camping trip and he
was most remembered for his pancakes? and
talking in his sleep. I?ll never forget that!? Finally,
Jack?s mother regularly participated in his group
mentoring program but not in his school.
Unfortunately, the remaining respondents
believed their parents had little or no involvement
in their school activities or youth program activities.
Colin, Lynda and Meris cited parents? employment
as an inhibiting factor to parental involvement,
while the other respondents cited parents? lack
of interest as the inhibiting factor. Ana Lee, in
particular, expressed that she ?desperately wanted?
her parents to be more involved in her youth
program and in her school. However, Ana Lee?s
parents did not express an interest and exhibited
minimal academic expectations of Ana Lee.
AFFECTIVE CONCEPTS
The following discusses results among
the affective concepts of civic engagement ?
satisfaction with service performed, and satisfaction
with political party affiliation.
SATISFACTION WITH SERVICE
Feelings of satisfaction were identified
as ?extremely satisfied,? ?satisfied,? ?somewhat
satisfied,? ?neither satisfied or dissatisfied,?
?somewhat dissatisfied,? ?dissatisfied,? ?extremely
dissatisfied.? When looking at the responses, most
respondents expressed they were either ?extremely
satisfied? or ?satisfied.?
Jack, Olivia, Ella and Meris identified
themselves as ?extremely satisfied? with the
service they have performed during their life cycle.
Jack indicated he was satisfied but not content,
while Ella expressed that her goal in life is to serve
others. To Olivia, building homes is currently her
area of focus and where she has focused much of
her civic energies.
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Civic Views of Young Adult Minorities
?I get a great deal of satisfaction
from helping people build houses.
I have read at story time, played
the piano for the elderly, and put
food in bowls in soup kitchens. I
often feel better about helping,
but sometimes get saddened
when I am around the homeless
because I feel that I am not
doing enough to help them. I
sometimes wonder if I should
focus my energy towards one
cause, then I won?t feel like such
a failure (at helping out), but I
think I?m doing okay. Habitat,
as mentioned earlier, is the most
satisfying service activity I have
ever done.?
Meris does not merely characterize herself as ?more
than satisfied? she indicated she is ?fulfilled.?
?When you are a part of an
organization, you feel like you are
contributing to society, which can
speak volumes toward a person?s
confidence and self-worth and
can lead to a lot of positives for
society as a whole such as less
violence, drug addiction, gang
involvement, etc.?
Respondents who feel less than satisfied
with their service were Ana Lee, Archie, and Colin.
Ana Lee indicated that she feels guilty about her
current level of service.
?I?m proud of what I?ve done in
the past? [but] I experience guilt
at having taken a couple years
off.?
Archie was somewhat dissatisfied because of his
level of participation is currently not comparable to
his past performance of service. Colin, however,
is significantly dissatisfied with his performance of
service and expressed a lot of concern regarding
his lack of service. Because of the many jobs
he currently maintains, ?I don?t have the time to
involve myself in community activities.?
SATISFACTION WITH POLITICAL PARTY
AFFILIATION
The following categories were established
to evaluate respondents satisfaction with political
party affiliation ? strong democrat, weak democrat,
independent, weak republican, strong republican.
A majority of the group identified themselves as
?independent? while the remaining respondents
identified themselves as strong or weak democrats,
or strong republicans.
Jack, Ella, and Gia identified themselves
as strong democrats. Jack indicated that the
reason he identifies himself as strong democrat
is because his ?needs are those of the majority of
the party.? However, Jack is not satisfied with the
Democratic Party, and asserts that ?I don?t think
[my needs] have been met.? Ella, on the other
hand, expressed satisfaction with the Democratic
Party and noted that the ?democrats have lived
up to my expectations.? Gia, finally, is neutral
in her satisfaction, as she faults Democrats and
Republicans for having ?both hurt the Black
community.? She stated that the Democrats are
the closest to meeting her expectations as ?[they]
seem to show more concern and support for social
issues (health coverage, affirmative action, etc.).?
Archie and Lynda identified themselves
as weak democrats. Archie, in particular, leans
more toward the Democratic Party as he said he
found that ?democrats tend to do what is best for
the community, especially economically.? Archie
indicated that while a person can never expect
candidates to do everything that they promised in
their campaigning, he feels more satisfied than not
that ?a democrat [would] stimulate the economy
and show more concern for minorities and those
in need.? Lynda, on the other hand, did not have
a strong affinity for the democrats. In contrast,
Lynda stated that ?Democrats definitely do not
meet all of my hopes and expectations, that?s why
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CIRCLE Working Paper 25: December 2004 Civic Views of Young Adult Minorities
I?m leaning more towards Independent.? She also
expressed that while she is weak in her satisfaction
with the Democratic Party, she has a strong
aversion to the Republican Party.
?I think the Republican viewpoint
is not inclusive of all that
actually occurs in the average
person?s lives. The necessities
of the average middle class and
[those] below don?t seem to
be a priority for Republicans.
Unfortunately most people in
[our] society fit into those classes
so [Republicans] neglect a lot of
people in their decisions.?
Charlotte was the only respondent who
identified herself as a strong republican. She
expressed that she is ?very pleased so far with
my decision to be republican.? Charlotte noted
that while she votes consistently for the party?s
candidates, she votes for the person and on
character than merely because of the candidate?s
affiliation with the Republican Party.
Given those results, who are the
independents within the group? Ben, Ana Lee,
Gemma, Olivia, Harmony, Meris, and Colin all
identified themselves as independents. Ben and
Ana Lee are the only immigrants within the group.
Ben cited he had no specific affinity for either party
? Democrat or Republican, or any other political
group, and indicated that he did not ?feel like I
am mainstream with democratic or republican
because of all the bickering and fighting?.? Ana
Lee identifies with the Green Party because she has
similar general interests as the party. However,
she is neither active with the Green Party, nor does
she receive any information about them. Further,
she expressed no attraction to or satisfaction with
the Democratic Party or the Republican Party, as
Ana Lee believes the Democratic message is that
?government will take care of the [people]? and the
Republic message is ?more focused on supporting
big business.? Gemma does not ?trust the wisdom
or motivations of [any] political party?? and prefers
to retain her objectivity, while Harmony just
identifies herself as an independent and purposely
desires not to belong to any political party.
Olivia leans more toward the liberal party
and is an avid listener of National Public Radio.
She expressed that she grew up with republican
parents but always felt her views were more liberal.
She?s satisfied with her political choices as she
identifies them as well-balanced. Meris identifies
herself as independent and votes based on a
person?s character and their public service history.
She?s also satisfied with her political choices as
her focus is always what candidates and political
leaders can ?do for me and my community.?
Finally, Colin identifies himself as independent. He
indicates that while he leans toward the Democratic
party, he is less than satisfied with the Democrats
and the extent of their liberalism. Colin noted that
Democrats are ?more sympathetic towards the
African-American plight than Republicans but are
sometimes a bit too liberal for my tastes.? Colin?s
remarks were more critical of the Republican
Party. ?[They are] very willing to sacrifice socially
beneficial programs for the economic good of the
middle/upper class.?
BEHAVIORAL CONCEPTS
There are three behavioral components that
emerged from this study ? actual performance of
service, philanthropy, and voting.
PERFORMANCE OF SERVICE
Archie completed over 100 hours of service
in high school and college, and more than 50
hours the year prior to the study. The bulk of his
service was directed to after school tutoring for
elementary children, serving as an adult mentor,
and participating mostly through his worship
center. As a tutor, Archie supported eighth graders
in their need to know concepts of math and
generate an interest in mathematics. As a mentor,
Archie met regularly with young ?minority students
having problems in school,? with the hopes that he
could motivate them to aspire to attend college and
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Civic Views of Young Adult Minorities
study engineering. Finally, through his religious
community, Archie regularly visits the sick and
participates in outreach activities that specifically
support the religious community.
Ella completed 25 hours of service in high
school during her four years, and no more than
10 hours of service during her tenure in college.
However, in the year prior to this study, Ella
completed over 50 hours of service. Ella?s service
career included volunteering at nursing homes as
well as cultural organizations. In addition, she is
very active in her religious community visiting the
sick. Currently, she is a tutor and mentor with
elementary students at a local school, and she
continues to participate in a cultural group that
brings artistic performances to support homeless
families, youth in group homes, and the infirmed in
nursing care centers.
Meris completed 80 hours of service in
high school, 60 hours of service in college, and 20
hours of service in the year prior to the study. Her
volunteerism is filled with various activities from
working with ?soup kitchens? to board leadership.
As a board member, Meris creates programs
designed to address and improve quality of life
issues for the state?s Hispanic community, and she
also volunteers with various organizations serving
the state?s Latino population. In addition to her
community leadership, which she does in addition
to her employment in the field of business, Meris
mentors to a young girl who had been involved
with the state?s juvenile court system.
Lynda completed over 100 hours of service
in high school and college. However, in the year
prior to this study, she did not perform service.
Much of Lynda?s service was accomplished through
City Year, as well as providing after school tutoring.
In addition, she volunteered at a day care center
as an aide, and raised money for breast cancer
awareness while also donating blood to the Red
Cross.
Olivia completed 200 hours during high
school and 150 hours during college. In the year
prior to the study, Olivia completed 20 hours of
service. Olivia?s service career revolved around
her early work with Habitat for Humanity, which
she loved. She also volunteered helping out in
neighborhood ?soup kitchens? while also donating
her time to a ?women?s crisis shelter.? Further, she
is very active with her local library.
During high school, Ben did not perform
any service, and in college, Ben performed about
10 hours of service. In the year prior to this study,
Ben did not participate in service. The extent of
his service surrounds college activities where he
helped out at neighborhood pantries, and assisted
with home building through an affiliate of Habitat
for Humanity. Similarly, Jack completed 60 hours
of service in high school and another 20 hours of
service were completed in college. However, in
the year preceding the study, Jack performed only
5 hours of service. Much of his work was indirect
service focus ? raising money for Lupus, breast
cancer or HIV/AIDS awareness through the running
of marathons.
Colin performed no service during high
school, college or the year prior to the study.
However, Gemma, the military personnel,
performed no service during high school, and
only ten hours of service during college. In the
year preceding the study, Gemma did not perform
service. During college, she did participate in
after school tutoring of inner-city youths. Since
then, she has not returned to this activity in early
adulthood.
Harmony completed 10 hours of service in
high school, and 30 hours of service in college. In
the year prior to the study, Harmony completed
30 hours of service. Harmony?s focus has always
been raising money for cultural groups or cultural
interests. In addition, Ana Lee completed 120
hours of service in high school and 20 hours during
college. In the year preceding this study, Ana Lee
did not perform service. The bulk of her service
contributions went to after school tutoring. Ana
Lee?s reasons for performing service were the
requirements imposed by her mentoring program.
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CIRCLE Working Paper 25: December 2004 Civic Views of Young Adult Minorities
Gia was also required to perform service
by her mentoring program. She performed 200
hours of service in high school, she did not perform
any service during college or the year prior to the
study. The bulk of her service was performed in
a short period with City Year, and helping out at a
senior center. She avidly participates in clothing
drives. Finally, Charlotte completed 200 hours of
service during high school. However, she did not
complete service during college or the year prior to
this study. During high school, she helped out in
a day care center, with no other interactions with
other volunteer outlets.
PHILANTHROPY
Philanthropy was grouped by ?high
contributions? (i.e. more than $200 per year),
?moderate contributions? (i.e. $1 to $200 per
year), and ?no contributions? (i.e. $0 per year).
Only three respondents contributed more than
$300 per year to a charity.
Ella donated $2000 to her church
community in the year preceding the study. Much
of her donations were attributed to ?tithing? or
special offerings to her church community, in
addition to in-kind gifts of clothes, food and other
non-financial gifts. Gemma contributed $350 to
charity, and Meris contributed $300 to charitable
causes. While Gemma did not elaborate on the
recipients of her donations, Meris elaborated that
she gives back to the youth programs that helped
her.
?[If we] who have benefited from
non-profit programs do not in turn
support them, they will not be
able to continue to do what they
did for us, for others.?
Moderate contributions were provided by
Gia, Lynda and Olivia. In the year preceding the
study, Gia gave a total of $110. The recipient of
her gift was the group mentoring program that
guided her through high school and college. In
addition, she noted that all of her current and
future ?monetary donations go to programs that
support children and/or education.? Lynda gave
a total of $50 to charity in the year preceding the
study. Her motivation to giving is described as
supporting those organizations she feels specifically
?helped our society.? Finally, Olivia gave a total
of $30. The recipients of her gifts are the Sierra
Club, the Arbor Day Foundation, or her alma
maters (high school, college, and graduate school).
Olivia expressed that she donated her time and
physical energy to Habitat for Humanity, but never
considered donating financial contributions until
this survey arrived.
The remaining respondents did not give any
financial contributions to charitable causes in the
year preceding the study. This sub-group includes
all of the males, as well as Ana Lee, Harmony and
Charlotte. Archie was pursuing entrepreneurial
interests in engineering and did not have the
finances to contribute to charity outside of his
?weekly contributions to the educational fund?
at his church (an amount he did not indicate nor
whether it was contributed in the year of study).
Further, since Jack owns his own talent search
business, he primarily donates the company?s
resources to publicize his company. Ben said the
focus of his charity is his high school?s annual fund.
However, he does not give on a regular basis.
Colin indicated his contributions are in-kind gifts,
primarily in the form of clothes to charities. Also,
Ana Lee expressed that she is not in a financial
position to financial contribute. Charlotte and
Harmony gave no reason for their lack of financial
contributions to charity.
VOTING
Respondents discussed their beliefs about
voting, but also their voting history or likelihood of
voting. Interestingly, for some of the respondents,
they had not considered voting as a civic behavior
until the receipt of the surveys. Respondents were
grouped into three categories ? 1) respondents
who voted regularly; 2) respondents who voted
sometimes; and, 3) respondents who hadn?t voted.
Five respondents identified themselves
as regular voters. Gemma noted that she votes
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CIRCLE Working Paper 25: December 2004
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Civic Views of Young Adult Minorities
regularly to affect change, and Lynda noted that
she goes out of her way to vote with others as a
group or block to make an impact. Ella votes in all
of the elections, no matter the subject matter, and
Harmony votes regularly because of her faith and
belief in the power of voting. Charlotte indicated
that by regularly voting she?s ?participating in the
community [and] its decisions.?
Moderate voters included Ben, Ana Lee,
Olivia, Meris, and Archie. Neither Ben nor Ana Lee
indicated how irregularly they voted or the context.
Olivia, Meris and Archie indicated their focus is
local politics when it comes to their participation
in voting. This limited participation in the breadth
of voting in all areas of politics is spurred by their
collective belief that in national politics their votes
count less than in local politics.
The non-voters are Jack, Colin and Gia.
With the exception of Jack who gave no reason
for his lack of participation in voting, Colin and
Gia never truly considered voting as a civic
participation until the receipt of the surveys. In
addition, Gia expressed her cynicism about voting
remains, but that she was more apt to vote in
future local elections rather than in national
elections.
LIMITATIONS
There are five specific limitations within this
exploratory study. First, the length and duration
of the journal reflections were much longer than
the principal investigator initially considered. The
journal took, on average, two to three weeks
to complete, rather than the two to three days
presumed by the investigator.
Also, the requests to participate in this
study came within six months of the completion
of the previous study. Potential respondents may
have experienced fatigue, as the second survey
was less direct (open-ended) and much longer than
the first survey. In addition to the length of the
survey, technology may have also encroached on
the strengths of this exploration. The qualitative
study was particularly reliant on technology and
web-based interaction between the respondents
and the principal investigator. This required more
than minimal technological skill of respondents
to properly engage in the study. As such, it is
unknown the degree to which an emphasis on
technology prevented potential respondents from
participating.
While some of the group participants
appear as though their level of engagement in
civic service will sustain through adulthood, it is
important to note that all of the respondents are
at the beginning journey of their adult life. Some
of the respondents only began to re-think their
civic service after submitting their reflections. As
such, their age and early adulthood status should
be taken into consideration when reviewing the
data. Finally, the themes that emerged from the
study must be further explored. A conceptual
model emerged from this study and identified
the cognitive, affective and behavioral concepts
as possible predictors of ?elements of civic
engagement? ? positive citizenship identity, social
connectedness, and social integration (Figure B).
Thus, this model needs to be explored, measured
and evaluated to ensure that this dynamic actually
occurs, and how this process differs by ethnicity,
culture, gender, socioeconomic status, and
educational attainment.
IMPLICATIONS
While the study is exploratory and requires
further research, there are salient notions emerging
from this qualitative analysis. Respondents
who were educated to prosocial civic behaviors
with caregivers and mentors who modeled civic
behaviors and commitments were more likely to
exhibit a strong civic identity, positive feelings
toward service and politics, and a sustained desire
to remain involved in service. This signifies an
act of critical consciousness, a cognitive notion to
abate the harmful effects of oppression against
minorities (Helms & Piper, 1994; Southwell & Pirch,
2003; Watts, et al., 1999; Yates & Youniss, 1998).
Respondents with moderate to high external
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CIRCLE Working Paper 25: December 2004 Civic Views of Young Adult Minorities
efficacy and regular voting practices and service
behaviors are able to self-categorize as a way to
define self and attain power and self-direction
for one?s own civic and political development
(Southwell & Pirch, 2003; Torney-Purta, et al.,
2003; Watts, et al., 1999; Yates & Youniss, 1998).
Respondents who exhibited higher levels
of disengagement were young persons who had
a history with immigration as a child, or young
adults who had strained relations with their
parents or educational settings. Further, these
respondents also experienced little or no parental
involvement in their school or youth program
activities. In addition, some respondents engaged
in service because their youth program required
the participation. However, when the requirement
was fulfilled at the end of high school, there were
no other incentives or motivations from their
communities of practice to sustain their civic
behaviors.
This suggests the youth program?s service
requirement during high school may have been
diametrically opposed to the civic ecology in the
caregiving environment, as the civic expectations
of the youth group were not supported in the home
(Flanagan et al., 1998; McDevitt, et al., 2003).
Thus, this conflict between key social institutions
for the maturing youth decreased the likelihood
that civic participation could be sustained into
adulthood (McDevitt, et al., 2003). As literature
asserts, participation in service alone is not enough
to sustain service and promote social integration
(Fletcher, et al., 2000; Parker & Franco, 1999;
McDevitt, et al., 2003; Yates & Youniss, 1998).
However, continuity in the act of civic behavior,
as well as social expectation and group norms
regarding civic behaviors facilitate long-term
sustained civic participation (Fletcher, et al., 2000;
Rosenthal, et al., 1998; Torney-Purta, et al., 2003;
Watts, et al., 1999; Yates & Youniss, 1998; Zaff, et
al., 2003).
It is critical to examine minority civic
participation within the dominant social group as
well as the intragroup civic diversity (Rosenthal,
et al., 1998; Torney-Purta, et al., 2003; Watts, et
al., 1999; Yates & Youniss, 1998). First, social
capital and social cohesion can emerge from within
the minority group (Rich, 1999; Torney-Purta, et
al., 2003; Yates & Youniss, 1998). As such, the
minority social network of relatives, fictive kin,
educational role models, and youth organizations
serve as protective factors that influence group
norms within society and strengthen individual civic
bonds with society-at-large (Fletcher, et al., 2000;
Kawachi & Berkman, 2000; McDevitt, et al., 2003;
Rosenthal, et al., 1998; Torney-Purta, et al., 2003).
Social capital and broad social networks within
minority communities serve as adaptive strategies
that can diminish the harmful effects of social
exclusion and alienation (McDevitt, et al., 2003;
Rich, 1999; Rosenthal, et al., 1998; Torney-Purta,
et al., 2003).
Further, there remains diversity within
diversity. By understanding the relationship
between members of minority subgroups and the
dominant culture, and how members internalize
their relationships with the dominant culture,
we gain greater knowledge of the subgroup?s
adaptive strategies toward acculturation and social
integration (McDevitt, et al., 2003; Rich, 1999;
Rosenthal, et al., 1998; Torney-Purta, et al., 2003;
Yates & Youniss, 1998; Zaff, et al., 2003). ?How
is civic participation defined within the subgroups
of this minority community including new arrivals/
immigrants?? ?What are the outcomes of civic duty
expressed within these subgroups??
Finally, civic knowledge is a product of
caregiving environments, young mentoring
programs and school settings (Fletcher, et al.,
2000; McDevitt, et al., 2003; Torney-Purta, et al.,
2003; Zaff, et al., 2003). These social institutions
have the ability to recruit, train and facilitate civic
participation in society (Fletcher, et al., 2000;
McDevitt, et al., 2003; Torney-Purta, et al., 2003;
Zaff, et al., 2003). Also, these institutions shape
the civic beliefs, feelings and actions of young
maturing members within these groups (Fletcher,
et al., 2000; McDevitt, et al., 2003; Southwell &
Pirch, 2003; Torney-Purta, et al., 2003; Watts, et
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CIRCLE Working Paper 25: December 2004
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Civic Views of Young Adult Minorities
al., 1999; Zaff, et al., 2003).
Civic engagement begins with an early
socialization to the values and culture of civic
and political service. Caregivers set the tone for
the youth as to what behaviors are expected
in society, and voluntary organizations foster
the maturing individual?s engagement in society
(Fletcher, et al., 2000; McDevitt, et al., 2003;
Rosenthal, et al., 1998; Zaff, et al., 2003).
Emphasis cannot be placed solely on voluntary
organizations and their outreach to all segments of
society. Caregivers establish a cultural foundation
for the growing youth from which the child learns
and subsequently accepts whether he or she has a
place in society-at-large as a viable citizen.
Civic engagement is a reciprocal relationship
between the individual member of a social group
and society. In order for this individual to be
known by society they must first be introduced
to society as a meaningful productive member.
Thus, civic expectations emerge from group
membership within a kinship community of practice
or an educational/youth mentoring community of
practice. These key entities shape an individual?s
long-term civic knowledge and actions into a
citizen-in-community.
CONCLUSION
Being engaged in civic society is an ideal
goal for every citizen. The difficulty arises when
maturing youths have little or no viable examples
of civic and political participation. When a parent
or caregiver is not fully engaged in traditional civic
systems of society, their children will not be as
well. Thus, youth organizations and mentoring
programs become additional critical resources to
ensuring a generation is fully engaged in all aspects
of our society.
Civic engagement is not something that
automatically occurs upon one?s transition to
adulthood. On the contrary, civic engagement is
a developmental process that includes cognitive,
affective and behavioral benchmarks. The origins
of these benchmarks can be found in the various
communities of practice.
Civic participation provides individuals
with civic skills that can be transferred to all
areas of life. However, by adulthood, many
individuals have little or no background in civic
or political participation. In order to alter this
disparaging fact, our social systems must increase
opportunities for youth and their families to
be involved with service opportunities. Early
exposure to service ensures that developing
citizens are more likely to be active in the political
process, take interests in the equal distribution of
community resources, and find themselves more
inclined to mobilize fellow citizens for a cause.
In essence, civic engagement is more than
a high level of altruism, buttressed by positive
self-esteem, strong self-concept, and high selfefficacy.
It is also a formal, consistent statement
by the young citizen-in-community to societyat-
large saying ?I am a valuable member of my
environment,? and society, in turn, agrees.
Caregiving environments and youth
organizations and community groups must see
themselves as schools for democracy where the
maturing youths have increased opportunities to
enjoy participatory equality in our nation. Then,
our nation will observe the elements of active
citizenship emerge through adulthood across the
cultural divide.
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CIRCLE Working Paper 25: December 2004 Civic Views of Young Adult Minorities
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TABLE 1
QUESTIONS WITHIN THE JOURNAL SURVEY
1. The ID number for this survey is
2. The sponsoring organization for this respondent is
3. There are many definitions of ?civic engagement? currently being used. When you think of ?civic
engagement,? how would you define it to others?
4. How would you characterize an individual?s commitment to serving others?
5. How would you characterize your level of commitment to serving others? (Describe your commitment
to what you do or have done in serving others?)
6. In looking back on your experiences with your sponsoring organization, describe how this program
influenced your commitment to service.
7. How would you characterize an individual?s satisfaction with service performed?
8. How would you characterize your level of satisfaction with service performed? (Describe your
satisfaction with what you do or have done in serving others?)
9. In looking back on your experiences with your sponsoring organization, describe how this program
influenced your level of satisfaction with service.
10. In your opinion, how important is an individual?s performance of community service to being engaged
in society?
11. How do you characterize your level of service since completion of high school ? ?high,? ?moderate,?
?low,? or ?none at all?? Explain.
12. Can you list all of your community service activities from high school to present? Include
?organization,? ?time frame ? high school, college, adulthood,? ?length of time,? ?volunteer role,? and
?primary duties.?
13. Who or what inspired you to participate in voluntary activities during high school and beyond?
14. When you think of political participation, how do you define it?
15. Which political party, if any, do you belong, and have you found this political party to meet all of your
hopes, expectations and aspirations? Explain.
16. When looking at other political parties to which you are not a member, identify these parties and
discuss how you interpret their messages to you and your community?
17. In looking back on your years of voting since turning 18 years of age, are you now more likely or less
likely to believe your vote counts?please explain?
18. Organized group mentoring is defined as an early intervention provided to youth from middle school
through high school to increase student engagement in school ?related activities?.
19. When looking back on your experiences with your sponsoring organization, describe how this
affiliation influenced your concept of citizenship and civic participation in adulthood?
20. Did this affiliation influence your participation or interest in participation in national service ?
AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, Vista, etc.? Explain.
21. Did this affiliation influence your participation or interest in participating in campaigning for a political
office? Explain.
22. Did this affiliation influence your participation or interest in participating in community school boards
or community district boards? Explain.
23. Did this affiliation influence your participation or interest in participating on the board of directors of
corporations or non-profit organizations? Explain.
24. Did this affiliation influence your financial contributions to organizations, informal groups or
individuals? Explain, and identify the types of groups to which you donate your financial resources.
25. Counseling consisted of college financial aid counseling, college preparatory course selection?.
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26. Mentoring consisted of access to adult mentors, access to peer mentors, service learning curricula,
access to family mentors?.
27. Academic support consisted of tutoring services, summer enrichment classes, standardized test
preparation?.
28. Outreach support consisted of college tours, summer job placement, community service placement,
access to pre-college enrichment opportunities?
29. Parental involvement consisted of volunteer opportunities for parents, and informational workshops to
increase parents? knowledge?.
30. When looking back on your affiliations with the sponsoring organization, please explain whether or not
you identify with your sponsoring organization.
31. Please explain your current relationship with your sponsoring organization, and your group mentor/
advisor.
32. Please explain your current relationship with alumni from your sponsoring organization, and whether
you attend alumni activities or events.
33. When you think about your sponsoring organization, do you feel the organization mentored and
nurtured you into young adulthood?.
34. Please describe your thoughts on civic engagement and people of color. What factors do you believe
promote or inhibit feelings of citizenship in communities of color?.
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CIRCLE Working Paper 25: December 2004 Civic Views of Young Adult Minorities
Figure A ? Focus Group Analysis
N=13
Ana Lee Gia
Charlotte
Colin
Gemma
Harmony
BEN & JACK
LYNDA & OLIVIA
MERIS
ELLA
ARCHIE
IDEAL
RESPONDENT
-- Constant
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Table 2 ? Current Demographics (N=13)
Respondents?
Gender
Current
Salary
Current
Field/Vocation
U.S.
Region
Residential
Type
Archie MALE Ella FEMALE 25-35K Business Mid West Inner City
Meris FEMALE 35-50K Business Pacific
Northwest
Urban
Lynda FEMALE Olivia FEMALE 35-50K Education Midwest Suburban
Ben MALE 35-50K Unknown Northeast Suburban
Jack MALE Entertainment
Northeast Inner City
Colin MALE 25-35K Science/Engineering Mid West Urban
Gemma FEMALE Harmony FEMALE 25-35K Science/Engineering Mid West Suburb
Ana Lee FEMALE 35-50K Education Northeast Urban
Gia FEMALE 15-25K Graduate student Northeast Urban
Charlotte FEMALE


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tags