Civic Spring: Arizona

Piloting the Best Civic Youth Programs

Young people play a critical role in strengthening our democracy today and for the long haul. Civic Spring Fellows are young people or members of youth-centered organizations who are working on projects that address a local community need, such as public health or local elections.

The Civic Spring Fellowship Arizona program is an opportunity for young people in Maricopa County to lead a community project this summer. By focusing on community projects as Civic Spring Fellows, young people are building skills to continue engaging and driving meaningful change for the long term. 

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THE CHALLENGE:

83% of young people say they believe they have the power to change the country, but many lack the resources and experience to engage

THE FELLOWS:

Six organizations from the 2020 pilot have completed community projects such as voter registration, COVID relief, and education policy

THE IMPACT:

Young people get hands-on experience engaging on local issues that they then share with their peers and communities

This project really speaks to the power of blending information and action. Making sure that we are really well informed and seeking out the knowledge that we need and then also translating that into action.

Sadie Bograd, 2020 Fellow
Sadie Bograd, 2020 Fellow

More Than Funding

Fellows build a powerful network of peers and partners to help maximize their impact. They build civic knowledge and skills while gaining on-the-ground experience in effecting change in their communities.

The Civic Spring Fellows receive critical support and mentorship from a network of community and nonprofit organizations, government agencies, schools, religious institutions, and businesses, including PayPal. As the program sponsor, PayPal will fund the projects and connect fellows with employees who will serve as mentors. PayPal is a local Maricopa County employer with offices in Scottsdale and Chandler.

Civic Spring Projects 2020

The 2020 projects addressed local community needs in one of two areas: responding to COVID-19 and/or building civic capacities for the 2020 election cycle. Fellows worked in communities in Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Texas.

The Civic Spring Fellowship was originally developed in 2020 by 40 subject-matter experts with insight and recommendations from young people. An independent evaluation of the 2020 Civic Spring Fellowship was conducted by Tufts University’s Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) and confirmed the individual and community impact of the program. Key findings included that the fellowship helped youth:

  • Find or strengthen their own voice, including their social-emotional learning capacities, abilities to navigate both civic institutions and their mental health, and strategies for working with stakeholders across lines of difference.
  • Make their city or town a better place, including advocating for policy change to city leaders, securing seats for youth on local government committees, holding voter registration events, and engaging local news media.
  • Gain knowledge and skills that would typically be part of a Civics class
2020 Civic Spring Fellows from New Jersey, Groundwork Elizabeth.

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