Civics Education: Preparing the Next Generation of Informed and Engaged Citizens
On June 3, 2019, Girl Scouts of the USA joined bipartisan leaders for Civics Education: Preparing the Next Generation of Informed and Engaged Citizens, an event that emphasized the importance of educating and engaging today’s youth in civics to preserve and strengthen our country’s democracy. This nonpartisan event provided an opportunity for community leaders, public officials, and education experts to address how out-of-school civics programming can prepare the next generation to be involved citizens with an in-depth understanding of their government. The conversation took place at the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice in New York City in front of a packed house, was livestreamed, and has been listened to by almost 14,000 people to date.
Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, board president, opened the event with an alarming statistic: just one in four Americans are able to name all three branches of government. Kathy emphasized how important it is that we inspire youth to be civically minded individuals equipped with the tools to take action and drive positive change in the world—and New York State Attorney General Letitia James, Republican Secretary of the U.S. Senate Laura Dove, iCivics Director of Education Emma Humphries, and Gold Award Girl Scout Lauren Hoaglund engaged with the event’s moderator, Chelsea Clinton of the Clinton Foundation, before a rapt audience. Gold Award Girl Scout Sophia Richardson from the Greater New York council served as master of ceremonies, and speakers touched on how programs like that offered by Girl Scouts fosters a supportive environment that brings lessons of democracy to life for youth and empowers them to enact change, in the process increasing their sense of personal and civic responsibility. The event concluded with GSUSA CEO Sylvia Acevedo announcing, to great applause, that in 2020 our organization will release new programming centered on civics education and democracy for girls in grades K–12, to deepen their understanding of government and civic duty.
Girl Scouts focus on civics education makes Girl Scouting unique; it has allowed us to assume the distinguished responsibility of shaping the next generation of informed voters and change-makers. Civics Education: Preparing the Next Generation of Informed and Engaged Citizens has affirmed our role in this sphere.