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Connecting Youth and Strengthening Communities


Scholarly Critique #1.1

I found this resource through a Google search while researching statistics related to civic engagement and economic opportunity. This publication supports a main theme of my action research team’s focus: exploring how engaging with art in different spaces can impact civic engagement, and ultimately future economic opportunity for the individual and community.

The main objective of this resource is to outline the development of the interactive Opportunity Index website and promote a “renewed focus to promote civic engagement activities as part of a larger commitment to expand opportunity” (p. 3). With a focus on “disconnected youth”, the authors suggest they “hope to present a compelling case to employers, educational institutions and organizations that are considering volunteer or community service projects that such activities are not simply altruistic” (p. 4).

This call to action demonstrates an approach to further consideration of the issues that encourages feedback and interaction from the community. The information is presented with images, graphics, and charts that add to the accessibility of the writing. A Glossary of Terms is also included to emphasize the information is for everyone-not just those with knowledge of the “insider language” of the research.

In relation to my own action research, I plan on engaging the community first hand in identifying the barriers to civic engagement. While this article presents the foundation for a discussion, I feel that many localized action research initiatives could stem from this source. In addition to exploring civic engagement with the community, I would also like to explore how creating and engaging with art can function as an accessible avenue to civic engagement.

The data from this study is collected from a variety of different sources, mostly on a national government level, all which seem to be valid. Although economic opportunity is an abstract concept, it is derived using statistical analysis related to economic, educational, and community indicators including unemployment rate, household income, percent of population below poverty line, accessibility to schools, crime and more. While it is likely to be some small variances in accuracy, I would consider this data to be reliable due to the high level of accountability by the authors.

The conclusions drawn from this report suggest there is a pressing urgency to find ways to reduce inequality in economic opportunity, and there are multiple avenues to taking action. These avenues include: expansion of cross-sector initiatives, membership in civic & service organizations, volunteer programs by employers, using the Opportunity Index, and continued collection of civic engagement data (p. 17). Following suit with the design and accessibility of the report, these conclusions are presented directly before the conclusion statement, and are outlined in a creative way.

Jordan, J., & Krumnow, R. (2014, September). Connecting youth and strengthening communities: The data behind civic engagement and economic opportunity. Opportunity Nation. Retrieved from http://opportunitynation.org/app/uploads/2014/09/Opportunity-Nation-Civic-Engagement-Report-2014.pdf

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