Reducing Inequality In Between-Neighborhood Disparity Through Youth Civic Empowerment and Participation

Does civic participation and collective efficacy reduce disparities in educational, economic, and social outcomes for youth?

That many youth from low-income families live in racially segregated neighborhoods with high concentrations of poverty would seem to predict poor outcomes for these young people. Yet all of these neighborhoods do not place the same constraints on youth opportunities. Some neighborhoods have more social capital and “collective efficacy,” or informal mechanisms through which residents improve public order or public goods, like schools, thus offering greater opportunities for young people. This study will examine conditions in low-income neighborhoods that create a positive developmental context for young people to be civically engaged. The investigators will examine how these conditions relate to both short- and long-term outcomes for youth, and the community as a whole. Findings from the study have the potential to inform policy and practice by revealing neighborhood conditions that support youth efficacy. Participants of the study include youth and adult residents of 30 Chicago neighborhoods. One case example will focus on a neighborhood that has failed to thrive despite earlier indications of promise, and conversely, a neighborhood that is thriving, despite low levels of youth contributions and collective efficacy.

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