The Princeton Youth Program for Civic Engagement (“PYC”) is a non-partisan organization located in Princeton, New Jersey. Our goal is to help equip young citizens in our community with the knowledge, skills and disposition to support robust civic engagement. We do this by connecting students with fun and age appropriate civic development programs and activities, including experiential and service learning opportunities. We also advocate for greater inclusion of comprehensive civics and citizenship curriculum in schools and promoting civic equity. Our goal is to develop global citizens while supporting their participation in their local communities.
Our country’s founders recognized that the success of our democracy depends on dedicated people committed to understanding and embracing citizenship. This commitment must be renewed with each generation. Understanding their place in the world and having an appreciation for diverse perspectives and cultures give young citizens the opportunity to solve the unique issues of the interconnected global community that they belong to.
Despite this, we continue to fall short in the civic development of young Americans:
Only one-third of all Americans can name all three branches of government; one-third couldn’t name any.
Nearly 30% of Americans couldn’t name the Vice President.
More than 60% didn’t know the length of U.S. senators’ terms in office.
43% couldn’t say that the first 10 amendments to the Constitution are known as the Bill Rights.
Almost a third mistakenly believed that a U.S. Supreme Court ruling could be appealed.[i]
Only 51% of eligible young people, ages 18-29, voted in the 2016 presidential election.[ii]
The benefits of civic learning for young participants are far reaching. Students who participate in civic learning not only demonstrate strong overall academic performance, but also strengthen important skills in critical thinking, persuasion, conflict management and collaboration, and develop greater confidence when faced with challenging or unfamiliar situations. As adults, they are more likely to engage in the political process and in their local communities, and even choose careers in public service.[iii] By engaging youth with diverse people and cultures, and global issues, they are able to build their cultural competencies and are more likely to identify global issues as important to them. Providing young people with the tools to effectively participate in their community today helps them develop skills needed to become effective leaders in the future.
At PYC we focus on the civic development of young citizens and empower them to become lifelong leaders of positive change. With our programs and activities we aim to support civic development with a focus on:
An understanding of the structure and foundation of our government, and the role of citizen
21st century skills necessary to participate as active and responsible citizens including persuasive speaking, active listening, collaborating, media literacy, and the ability to gather and process information.
Strong civic disposition including trust in institutions and leaders, a compassion for fellow citizens, and sense of self-efficacy - that one’s own actions can make a difference.
While focused on school aged citizens, our programs encourage families and community members to engage in civic development together. Youth participants of the Program can earn rewards and recognition for achieving excellence in civics.
Learn about our programs here.
[i] Guardian of Democracy: Civic Mission of Schools, Annenberg Public Policy Center Survey (Accessed March 4, 2018)
[ii] Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning (“CIRCLE”)
[iii] Guardian of Democracy: Civic Mission of Schools, Annenberg Public Policy Center Survey (Accessed March 4, 2018)