With the 2020 General Election less than a month away, news feeds are flooded with political stories, and public service announcements to vote are dominating social media. If you’re too young to vote, or just not sure where you fit in the civic process, you may find yourself wondering, “how can I get involved?”
Maybe, you’ve taken the time to read up on the issues you care about and found opportunities to get involved in organizations advocating for those issues. No matter which boat you’re in, civic engagement is one of the most important principles of a democracy and in ensuring that our political processes are working as intended.
The good news is, you can play a part, even if you’re too young to vote. And now colleges on RaiseMe want to reward you for your civic engagement efforts.
What is Civic Engagement?
According to the website Youth.gov, civic engagement involves “working to make a difference in the civic life of one’s community and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes.”
While there are many forms of civic engagement that students can be involved in, here are a few common examples students on RaiseMe have already taken action on this year:
- Voting, and promoting electoral involvement by registering others to vote or volunteering to work the polls on election day
- Demonstrating activism for causes like racial justice by attending or facilitating peaceful rallies, or organizing online actions through social media and petitions
- Protecting the environment and promoting conservationism by organizing trash cleanups, tree-planting activities, and climate change awareness events around your community
Civic engagement includes many forms of political activism, environmentalism, and community and national service. When people are civically engaged, they contribute more meaningfully to their own communities around them and develop empathy for those with whom they share space.
Introducing Civic Engagement Micro-scholarships
Whether you’re showing leadership by mobilizing voters ahead of a general election or participating in student or local government to effect change on your neighborhood or high school’s campus, many colleges want to reward you for taking civic action.
Why Colleges Care About Civic Engagement
Even if you’re not a U.S. citizen or under the age of 18 — two of the legal voting requirements in the United States — demonstrating civic engagement is important because many colleges and universities see civically engaged students as strong public citizens who have expressed an interest in creating positive change in their communities. To colleges, showing awareness of the issues facing your community and taking action to work towards resolving those issues demonstrates how engaged you’ll be as a member of a college’s student body.
Here are some ideas for ways you can show civic action this fall, no matter your age or citizenship status, and earn micro-scholarships in the process:
- Attend a virtual town hall or city hall
- Digital organizing – signing or starting petitions, or holding community events to raise awareness around causes
- Join a phone or text bank to advocate for voter turnout
- Register to be a poll worker on election day
- Organizing a voter registration drive
- Enrolling in a civics course
- Registering to vote
How Students on RaiseMe Are Taking Civic Action
Since the start of 2020, students on RaiseMe have already made incredible strides when it comes to demonstrating civic engagement. Check out some of the inspiring civic actions that students have already earned micro-scholarships for.
Students have earned an average of $418 in micro-scholarships for supporting election efforts in 2020, like helping to register voters and volunteering as a poll worker in this year’s primary election.
“I worked as a student election poll worker. It included help setting up the room, helping people register, providing them their ticket, and putting away the machines.”Anna, a student poll worker in Irving, TX
“My first job was to call constituents of the 65th Assembly District to make sure they’re doing well and have everything they need during the crisis. If they need help, I relay that information to our government side team and they will provide the assistance required. When the NY primary rolled around, I was making Get The Vote Out Calls which consisted of reminding registered constituents of the primary date and assisting with the process to request a mail-in ballot for older constituents.”Brianna, a student volunteer for NY State Assembly candidate Yuh-line Niou in New York City
Social and political advocacy
Students have earned an average of $264 in micro-scholarships for supporting social and political advocacy efforts, from organizing anti-racism discussions to packing lunches for and offering water to peaceful protestors.
“In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement of 2020, I became a student leader for anti-racism discussions and collaborated with students and teachers to create plausible solutions to encourage multiculturalism.”Martin, a high school senior from Gilbert, AZ
“I marched the streets of Wilmington to protest gun violence.”Ravi, a high school senior from Bear, DE who participated in the national “March for our Lives”
Students have earned an average of $682 in micro-scholarships for supporting environmental advocacy efforts, like raising awareness around climate change for members of under-represented communities.
“I was on the board of the Miami Youth Climate Summit and helped organize the event. I made sure the event ran smoothly and I even presented.”Tatiana, a high school senior from Miami, FL
“Wrote an article for Hispanic newspaper called El Vocero to bring awareness to the Hispanic community about plastic pollution”Brisa, a high school senior from Grand Rapids, MI
Steps To Support Change In Your Community
So how exactly can students like you take civic action this election season and earn micro-scholarships for their efforts?
- Identify the issues that you care about. From economic recovery and support for small businesses, to civil rights and racial injustice, to equal access to medical care in the time of a pandemic, to the importance of environmental conservation and protections, 2020 has shed light on numerous matters facing our communities. Reading the news or following updates from subject matter experts across social media can be a great way to become informed on what’s at stake, and how participating in our democracy can help effect the change you want to see in the country.
- Check in with local or national organizations for ways to get involved. Many organizations in your local community or across the country have compiled resources and opportunities around promoting civic engagement and civic action. Organizations like Headcount.org or VolunteerMatch offer dozens of ideas for engaging in civic action, either virtually or in-person.
- Take charge (and earn micro-scholarships!). Whether it’s organizing a digital voter registration drive, registering to be a poll worker this election, or volunteering to spread awareness around important causes and issues, don’t forget to log your achievements under the “College Readiness” section of your RaiseMe portfolio — you could earn big in micro-scholarships for your contributions.
Ready to get started?