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The impact of youth engagement efforts on civic identity and participation : a study of the Colorado Youth Advisory Council

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The impact of youth engagement efforts on civic identity and participation : a study of the Colorado Youth Advisory Council
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Wolsborn, Maureen
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Denver, Colo.
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University of Colorado Denver
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This client-based project was completed on behalf of the Colorado Youth Advisory Council (COYAC) and supervised by PUAD 5361 Capstone course instructor Dr. Wendy Bolyard and second faculty reader Dr. Allan Wallis. This project does not necessarily reflect the views of the School of Public Affairs or the faculty readers. Raw data were not included in this document, rather relevant materials were provided directly to the client. Permissions to include this project in the Auraria Library Digital Repository are found in the final Appendix. Questions about this capstone project should be directed to the student author.

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Running Head: COYAC IMPACT ON CIVIC IDENITY AND PARTICIPATION
The Impact of Youth Engagement Efforts on Civic Identity and Participation A Study of the Colorado Youth Advisory Council Maureen Wolshorn
University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs
This client-based project is submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Public Administration in the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado Denver Denver, Colorado
Summer
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COYAC IMPACT ON CIVIC IDENITY AND PARTICIPATION
Capstone Project Disclosures
This client-based project was completed on behalf of the Colorado Youth Advisory Council (COYAC) and supervised by PUAD 5361 Capstone course instructor Dr. Wendy Bolyard and second faculty reader Dr. Allan Wallis. This project does not necessarily reflect the views of the School of Public Affairs or the faculty readers. Raw data were not included in this document, rather relevant materials were provided directly to the client. Permissions to include this project in the Auraria Library Digital Repository are found in the final Appendix. Questions about this capstone project should be directed to the student author.
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Table of Contents
Executive Summary...........................................................................4
Literature Review...........................................................................9
Social Capital...........................................................................9
Youth Social Capital....................................................................10
Civic Engagement........................................................................11
Measuring and Evaluating Youth Civic Engagement.........................................14
Methodology................................................................................16
Research Questions and Hypothesis.......................................................16
Measurement, Data Collection and Sampling Plan..........................................17
Validity and Reliability................................................................18
Analysis................................................................................19
Results....................................................................................19
Respondent Demographics.................................................................19
COYAC Participation and Impact on Levels of Civic Engagement............................20
Views of Civic Identity.................................................................21
Importance of Civic Participation.......................................................22
Qualitative Question Findings...........................................................22
Discussion and Recommendations.............................................................24
Implications and Recommendations........................................................27
Limitations.............................................................................28
Conclusion.................................................................................29
References.................................................................................30
Appendix A.................................................................................33
Appendix B.................................................................................35
Appendix C.................................................................................39
Table 1.................................................................................39
Table 2.................................................................................40
Table 3.................................................................................41
Table 4.................................................................................42
Table 5.................................................................................43
Appendix D.................................................................................44
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Executive Summary
Many organizations administering youth civic engagement programs have difficulty tracking and measuring the long-term impacts of participation. The Colorado Legislative Council and members of the General Assembly face the challenge of tracking and understanding the impacts of the Colorado Youth Advisory Council (COYAC). COYAC is a formal council that makes recommendations to the State Legislature on issues important to youth. Colorado Legislative Council, the client for this project, has requested a formal analysis of all past COYAC members. Results of this research will also be shared with members of the Colorado General Assembly. This research seeks to understand how participating in COYAC has impacted members civic participation and individual views of civic identity, defined as individual feelings of ability to make change and duty to public engagement (Ruben, 2007). This capstone project investigates civic engagement and identity through an online survey that asks questions aimed at measuring levels of participation, views of civic identity, and how participation in COYAC potentially impacted these activities and viewpoints. Quantitative analysis of multiple choice survey questions was conducted, in addition to thematic coding of two open-ended questions.
A number of findings emerged from this study. First, the majority of former COYAC members are involved in some type of civic activity. While types of organizations past members engage with is varied, they do participate frequently. Second, former members were mixed when asked if there was an experience in their formative years that shaped their civic views. Some pointed to COYAC, while others stated there was a moment prior to their term on the Council. Third, former members have a strong sense of civic identity, indicated through their belief that they have the power to contribute to their community and the importance of participating in civic activities. Finally, former members indicated their perception of civic engagement in the context of personal and community development increased after COYAC participation.
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With these findings, the Colorado Legislative Council and General Assembly now have a greater understanding of how participating in the program has impacted members. Recommendations for the Colorado Legislative Council, General Assembly, and managing organization of COYAC are aimed at increasing the data on impacts of the program and connecting with past members. The recommendations from this research are as follows:
1. The managing organization of COYAC should create a survey that is administered before and after completion of a COYAC term in order to track changes in civic participation and identity. Additionally, the survey would be distributed five years after completion of the program to track long-term impacts of COYAC participation.
2. The managing organization of COYAC should establish an alumni network to keep past members involved and engaged.
Future research of COYAC and other youth civic programs will add to the growing body of literature seeking to understand the impact of these programs. This research also provides policy makers and program directors the ability to use data from surveys as a proof of concept, highlighting the potential long-term impacts participation has on the civic identity and engagement of past members.
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The ability for youth under age 18 to participate in the American democratic process is limited. While policy decisions at the federal, state and local level often directly impact the lives of young adults, there are few formal channels for youth to get involved and help set the agenda. Good public policy should reflect input from those whom it is intended to impact. In many policy areas, be it healthcare or transportation, policy makers seek the input and feedback of constituents. Yet youth are often left out of the conversation when it comes to policy that directly impacts their lives. Conversations around higher education costs or standardized testing requirements rarely seek the views of young adults, the individuals who know and experience the impact of these policies. Including youth in the process is integral to successful policy outcomes.
The lack of youth engagement opportunities indicates a problematic gap between adolescent learning and adult participation in civic life. Formal education gives youth the knowledge to operate and participate in society as an adult, yet there is little to no conversation around how to be a good citizen and engage in the community. Views of politics are often shaped from a passive standpoint, being influenced and defined not by ones own active experiences but through potentially biased and unfiltered media and familial views. Civic learning opportunities are limited for most U.S. youth. Without exposing young adults to the importance of civic life and participation, it should come as no surprise that individuals age into adulthood feeling apathetic about government and their power to make positive change in their community.
Efforts to increase youth civic participation and learning have evolved in and out of the classroom. Programs range from formal service learning models to experiential social or politically focused programs that seek to actively engage youth in making policy change. Such efforts have the immediate goal of creating public change that reflects youth priorities, and these
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changes can easily be tracked. If change occurs it can be linked back to the youth participation or program involvement in that issue. The second goal is often long-term, seeking to help develop the civic identity of the youth participants. Tracking and understanding this potential outcome is far more diffused. More than one experience impacts identity as a citizen and member of a community. Yet such programs aim at just that, providing a transformative experience that builds a new generation of engaged, civic-minded youth. For the field of public administration, understanding these short, and long-term impacts of youth civic engagement opportunities is critical in developing programs that not only create better public policy, but help build the next generation of leaders and engaged citizens. Voluntary youth associations have been found to influence the future civic participation of young adults, and ultimately the outcomes of elections and public processes (McFarland & Thomas, 2006).
In Colorado, the Legislature identified the of lack of youth voice in the policy making process. Senator Ellen Roberts from Durango knew the Legislature had a responsibility and duty to Colorados youth to ensure their opinions on policies that directly impacted their lives were heard through formal channels. Taken from other state models of youth advisory councils, Roberts introduced and aided in passing the Youth Advisory Act in House Bill 08-1157, thus creating the Colorado Youth Advisory Council (COYAC). The mission of COYAC, as outlined in the legislation, is to examine, evaluate and discuss the issues and needs related to Colorado youth. COYAC gives youth under the age of 18 the opportunity to formally engage in the policy process with the Legislature. Additionally, COYAC works to foster a sense of civic duty and engagement amongst its members. Students represent their State Senate District and hold the responsibility of representing the needs and concerns of youth in their community.
Since 2008, COYAC has worked with Colorado Legislators on issues ranging from water
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sustainability to youth mental health services. The outcomes from the Council are evident in their influence in the policy areas in which they focus. What is less known is the long-term impact of the Council on youth, particularly, how participation on the Council has impacted their civic identity and engagement. For the Colorado Legislative Council, the entity tasked with managing the ongoing facilitation of COYAC, and the General Assembly, the greater impact of their investment is unknown. In an ever changing political and economic climate, having a thorough analysis of the long-term impact of COYAC is critical for Legislators who seek to continue to make the case for a formal youth council at the Capitol.
The purpose of this research is to understand if participating in COYAC has changed or in some way shaped past members civic identity and level of civic engagement, providing the client insight into the long-term impacts of their investment in youth development. Additionally, this research aims at adding to the current literature on youth civic participation and the importance of opportunities for young adults to engage in the political process.
A review of the literature illuminates the role of civic engagement in building and sustaining social capital in communities. For youth, social capital building activities happen in and out of academic settings, and civic engagement activities are shown to influence young adults views and levels of public participation. This study employs an online survey with questions regarding levels of civic engagement and identity informed by the literature; in particular, studies which focus on measuring levels and views of individual civic engagement (Karakos, 2017; Rubin, 2007). These measurements are used in an online survey distributed to past COYAC members. The findings are analyzed for statistical significance and interpreted in the context of the research questions and literature. Finally, recommendations are made to the client and limitations of the research are discussed.
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Literature Review
There is a robust field of literature focused on social capital, civic engagement and youth participation. This review primarily focuses on the defining works of social capital theory, the development of understanding how youth form social capital, how young adults participate in civic life, and how this participation is measured. Additionally, this review focuses on how the building of social capital impacts levels of civic engagement and how adolescent participation not only enriches civic life but also is an opportunity for individual development.
Social Capital
This study seeks to understand the relationship between young adult participation in a civic program and later in life views and levels of engagement. There is robust literature on youth programs and how this engagement helps shape civic identity and participation. These studies are all grounded in theory that proposes there is something inherently good and important in having individuals connected through public participation.
Early observations of the American experience brought to light the unique nature of public participation in the United States. Alexis de Tocqueville (1835) witnessed Americans gathering together to discuss and solve public problems. Bourdieu (1986) identifies social capital as a collection of resources created through relationships with others. This is an intangible type of capital that is actualized in the experience one has with their community. For Putnam (2000) social capital is the product of individuals engaging in their communities, creating trust and reciprocity. Without participating in activities that bring people together across lines of identity, politics, and beliefs, engagement with only insular groups from the same background may lead to inequity and deterioration of a communitys social trust (Fukuyama, 1995). For civil society to flourish, engagement must happen across individual and cultural boundaries that often divide.
Social capital is overwhelmingly seen as a critical component of a functioning democracy
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in America. Either in the form of resources or a product of participation, building and having social capital has the ability to enrich ones own life as well as their experience within a community. Scholars have turned to a citizens formative years, seeking to understand how young adults build these social bonds and begin to connect with their communities.
Youth Social Capital
Building social capital starts far before the ability to formally participate in political or civil society. Young adults start building their sense of social capital and cohesion in school and through activities in which they participate. While the activities of building social capital are evident in young life, measuring young adults levels of participation against adult measures is problematic. Billett (2016) argues that young adults have different types of social ties due to lack of social mobility.
For adults, there is a choice of where and how to participate, but for youth, the focus of political and civic socialization happens in the school (McCintosh & Youniss, 2010; Levine, 2003). Traditionally, the type of social capital young adults form is bonding, engaging with peers who have the same interests, views, and socioeconomic backgrounds (Billett, 2016). Young adults are indeed building social capital, but there is a dispute as to whether their new forms of participation have the strength to replace more traditional notions of civic life.
According to Putnam (2000), the next generation poses great possibility and threats to American social capital. The movement towards online activity is a cause for concern, people are turning inward to their homes and engaging in communities online. While this engagement has value in building social capital, it does not replace traditional forms of participation (Putnam, 2000). Jensen and Vontz (2016) argue that youth, and Millennials in particular, are the next generation of civic heroes, who are leveraging technology and communication in a way that is helping rebuild social capital in a modem context.
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This research is seeking to some extent, to understand if social capital has been created or built through participation in COYAC. As a program that engages young adults, their connections in school are often through bonding forms of social capital. They engage with others of similar interests and backgrounds, either through their courses or other activities. COYAC is unique because it brings together students from across Colorado, representing the diversity within the State. The program is a potential conduit of bridging social capital by connecting students in a civic engagement process. These students, under normal circumstances, would not have the opportunity to interact with each other.
Civic Engagement and Identity
Social capital in large part is built through civic engagement. The ways in which individuals choose to participate either aids in the building or deterioration of the social fabric of their community. Civic participation is as much an activity of building social capital as it is building character. For Almond and Verba (1963) a civic culture is one which focuses on participation and agency as well as service to individual needs and acceptance of authority. This study focuses on the participant aspect of civic culture and seeks to understand how engagement in a program, such as COYAC, can help mold a sense of civic identity and potentially increase participation in public life.
Individual civic identity is shaped through ones involvement with public institutions, social programs and cultural activities (Nasir & Kirshner, 2003). Moral identities are shaped not only through upbringing but engagement with communities. Commitment to causes and values shift as exposure and participation changes (Nasir & Kirshner, 2003). Being involved in public life not only impacts the external world, but aids in the shaping of civically minded individuals.
Civic engagement goes beyond participation in the political realm. While voting is often viewed as the benchmark for civic participation, other activities also signify ones commitment
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to community (Amna, 2012). How one chooses to participate is often a reflection of individual circumstance. Participation is often gauged at a level required to be considered a participating member of democracy, but this assumes that everyone views those activities as important and an effective mechanism to make change (Amna, 2012).
What it means to be a citizen has shifted for Americans across socioeconomic and generational lines as well. Younger adults, while tending to vote less, are becoming more involved in non-traditional methods of participation (Dalton, 2007). Voting also requires skills and knowledge of the candidates and issues up for election and is often framed as the lowest entry point to participation, yet many face barriers both intellectually and institutionally to fully engage (Levine, 2007). If candidates or issues do not resonate or make their platform appeal to young adults, they will find other, perhaps more direct avenues to make an impact.
The way young people choose to be involved is driven by their priorities and access to the system. Youth civic engagement comes in many different forms including working collectively to solve a public problem, learning about systems and issues, lobbying for issues of importance, participating in a campaign and voting (Rogers, Mediratta, Shah, Kahn & Terriquez, 2012). The different forms of involvement all aid in the development of a personal civic identity.
Youth participation in democracy is not only encouraged, but also codified through the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) by the United Nations (ODonoghue, Kirshner & McLaughlin, 2002). The CRC, amongst many other rights, lays out the role that youth play in civil society and democratic government. While the CRC laid the groundwork for more youth participation, the way youth have traditionally been engaged in any type of civic process has been limited. Youth are often invited to participate in a process but are segregated based on age and not given equal roles and responsibilities of their adult counterparts
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(Wheeler & Edlebeck, 2006). While young adults do need additional guidance in a process, using them as a symbol of inclusion is not beneficial for the outcome or the individuals involved. For youth participation to be meaningful there needs to be a focus on learning, cross-age collaboration, partnerships in building solutions, and creating relationships with government institutions (Kirshner, 2007).
Watts and Flanagan (2007) categorize youth participation as participatory, personal, and justice oriented forms of civic engagement. Participatory engagement focuses on making changes around issues that are critical on a local or a national level; personal focuses on volunteerism for issues that are important to the individual; and a justice orientation emphasizes collective change while having a conscious focus on socioeconomic injustice (Watts & Flanagan, 2007). Similarly, Rogers et al. (2012) segment youth participation, but focus on how the chosen point of access shapes individual civic identity. They segment participation in the forms of civic learning, youth issue organizing, engaging with mainstream institutions, and advocacy for inequity. How youth choose to engage in civic life will help shape their understanding of the role of citizen participation and the most effective channel to make an impact.
For youth, participating in civic life is a multidimensional act. Youth may choose to focus on a cause that is of importance to them from an ethical or belief standpoint, participate based on local or national issues, or focus on individual or community injustices. Different forms of participation allow young adults to find a space that not only represents the issue they care about but allows them to engage in a manner which is meaningful to them. Public participation, in all of its shapes and forms, has a powerful impact on young adults. Civic identity in youth creates a sense of being part of something greater than the self, and a responsibility to contribute to the quality and sustainability of a larger polis (Kirshner, 2009). In other terms, civic engagement
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takes the individual from a place of what I can do alone to what we can do together (Kirshner, 2007, p. 369). The power of the individual, while not lost, is now understood in the context of the group. Giving young adults the opportunity to participate not only benefits the individual, but the institutions in which they engage (Wheeler & Edelbeck, 2006). A fully functioning community requires the participation from all individuals, including youth. Young adults have the ability to represent issues through a lens not normally seen and can make government more accountable to their needs (Rogers et al., 2012).
Measuring and Evaluating Youth Civic Engagement
How youth choose to engage is often dictated by access to programs and a belief in what
is the most effective way to have an impact on an issue or community (Rogers et al., 2012). This research seeks to understand how the unique experience of participating in COYAC has impacted civic identity and engagement. Understanding the theories and approaches to the evolution of similar programs is critical in developing a research instrument that accurately measures change and impact of the former COYAC members.
Campbell-Patton and Patton (2010) use a number of indicators to measure civic engagement. For one individual, participation may focus on volunteering at a local organization, and for another it may be participating in an electoral campaign or through an association (Campbell-Patton & Patton, 2010). Both should be viewed as valid and important forms of civic engagement in research.
When measuring youth civic engagement, it is important to acknowledge that most youth enter activities through school and to some extent, not voluntarily. This is particularly important to keep in context when studying COYAC, since the members sought out that opportunity, therefore they may be more inclined because of personal background or interest to participate in civic programs. McFarland and Thomas (2006) use a wide range of indicators in order to
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understand levels of engagement and why young adults may or may not participate. Beyond asking questions of activities in which they participate, their variables also focus on demographic background, parents level of civic engagement, and views of their future levels of service (McFarland & Thomas, 2006). The use of a multitude of questions aids in operationalizing conceptual variables and the motivations of participation.
For qualitative measurements, Kirshner (2009) uses a protocol that focuses on individual change, how the respondent feels towards their participation, and views of their impact on the community. Unlike quantitative, qualitative methods give respondents the time and space to tell their story in a potentially more nuanced manner (Amadeo & Andolina, 2010). The use of both methods allows the researcher to use multiple variables to operationalize the concepts and analyze deeper impacts through interviews or focus groups. Each study uses different measures in gauging views and levels of civic engagement, depending on the population and project or program under study. For this research, a mixed methods design informs the creation of a survey that accurately illuminates current views of civic identity and levels of engagement of former COYAC members.
There is deep and rich literature focused on understanding the social fabric of American life and what it means to participate in the civic space. From the theories of social capital, and how it connects to levels of civic engagement and the identity of citizens, researchers have begun to focus on how youth transform into engaged adults. Experiences in and outside of the classroom are helping shape how young adults view themselves as civically engaged individuals and ultimately impacting their levels of public participation. This study seeks to add to this body of research by specifically focusing on the impact of participating on a legislative youth advisory council. A survey of past members of COYAC demonstrates how this experience potentially
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impacted their levels of civic engagement and civic identity. Adding to this body of literature not only shows how these types of youth programs create long-term impacts, but also helps in the understanding of what factors and experiences shape civic activity and identity.
Methodology
Research Questions and Hypotheses
As stated above, this research seeks to understand the relationship between participation in a youth leadership program and its impact on long-term views of civic identity and levels of civic engagement. Across the U.S. and the globe, youth driven leadership initiatives have been implemented with the goal of impacting policy and community as well as creating sustained change in participants in how they view and engage in civic life (ODonoghue, Kirshner & McLaughlin, 2002). Such efforts range from informal community based learning projects, direct political involvement, to more policy focused initiatives. All are tied together with the common goal of placing youth in an active role for creating change. This study looks at the Colorado Youth Advisory Council (COYAC) and the potential impact participation has had on past members. A measurement table for the research variables can be found in Appendix A.
Research Questions
Does participating in COYAC impact individual civic identity?
Does participating in COYAC impact levels of civic participation?
Hypotheses
Participation in COYAC has impacted past member views on their civic identity.
Participation in COYAC has impacted past member levels of civic engagement.
Variables
The dependent variables for this study are views on civic identity and levels of civic engagement.
The independent variables for this study are participation in the Colorado Youth Advisory Council, age, and where they lived during their term on the Council.
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Measurement, Data Collection and Sampling Plan
Civic identity and levels of engagement are dynamic variables. Even levels of civic
participation vary and are impacted by multiple factors from ones past experience, current situation, and the external political climate. While this study seeks to understand the impact of participation in COYAC on these views and actions, it in no way is able to account for and encompass all of the additional variables that may influence these outcomes. Additionally, this study takes an inductive approach to the research. As literature has dictated, views of duty and levels of civic engagement fluctuate from generation to generation (Dalton, 2007). Therefore, this study adds to the literature by understanding the potential relationship between youth civic programs along with future views and engagement levels. The study focuses on reflection of change and current views and participation.
Civic identity and engagement are operationalized and tested based on the literature and potential key indicators that may add to a greater understanding of the conceptual variables.
Civic identity focuses on sense of duty towards participation, views of importance of engagement, sense of community, and how their contributions are making an impact (Karakos, 2015). Civic engagement is measured not only by how much time the respondent participates but the level of commitment, either sustained or short-term, as well as the type of organization for which they are choosing to volunteer. This may mean local volunteering or formal political participation.
The research was conducted through an online survey (Appendix B) sent to past Council members. Survey design primarily relies on questions that measure current viewpoints and levels of participation. Limited questions ask participants to reflect on their time participating in the Council. These questions have the ability to lead the respondent to answer in a more positive manner because they are reflecting upon an experience but with the mindset from their current
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age and knowledge. Survey design requires respondents to answer 5-6 main questions that measure their views and participation. If they answer positively to some, they are prompted with additional questions, gauging specific views or levels and areas of public participation. All questions either multiple choice, yes/no, or Likert scale. In addition to the closed-ended survey questions, respondents are asked two open-ended questions.
The population of this study is all former COYAC members since the first Council in 2008, approximately 150 individuals. Criterion sampling is used as the sample for the survey and is comprised of all former members with valid email addresses. The email addresses for members serving between 2013 and 2017 were obtained from rosters of former Council members. These rosters were obtained from the managing organization of COYAC, Engaged Public. The names of past Council members serving between 2008 and 2012 were obtained from Council reports provided by The Civic Canopy, but email addresses were not available for the research. There is the potential for the responses to be skewed towards more recent members, since access to their contact information is more readily available.
Validity and Reliability
Because of the nature of the project and the method of research, there are limitations and threats to the internal validity, or the quality of the study as a scientific process. The members were not pre-tested so it is difficult to measure any change in civic views and engagement from before and after their experience on the Council. Additionally, some of the members have been out of high school since 2008. Life experiences can undoubtedly have an influence on views and actions. While these variables are discussed in the context of the findings, there is limited control the researcher has over other variables. Open-ended questions ask respondents to reflect upon past experiences, which threatens the validity of their responses since they may answer in a more positive manner.
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The strength of the study lies in its ability to be easily replicated not only year after year with the COYAC members, but by other youth programs as well. Questions and overall process design can be used by other youth based organizations seeking to measure their impact on past members. These questions may be especially helpful since most programs do not pre-test members. Additionally, the study seeks to add to a growing definition of how young adults define civic identity and engagement. With data from multiple years from past Council members, as well as data from other youth programs, results can be generalized to gain greater understanding of how these experiences have impacted participants.
Analysis
Quantitative and qualitative methods are used for this study. Survey results are
analyzed in STATA. Descriptive measurements and statistical tests are performed to understand if there is a relationship between COYAC participation and the dependent variables. Since there is no survey data which measures participation and views prior to COYAC participation, only one question lends itself to a Chi-Square test. This question asks members to rank the importance of civic participation prior to COYAC and after the program. The open-ended questions responses are thematically coded.
Results
Respondent Demographics
Emails with survey links were distributed to 86 past COYAC members, resulting in a total of 27 survey responses or a response rate of 31%. While 27 former members answered at least one question in the survey, not every respondent completed all of the survey questions. Table 1 (Appendix C) displays the demographic representation of survey respondents. Overall, the respondents trended towards female, white, and recent high school graduates. With respect to the age of the respondents, 86% (n=19) graduated high school between 2014 and 2017, with only
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three respondents who graduated prior. Additionally, 68% (n= 15) of the respondents are currently living in Colorado. Those who are not living in Colorado are closely split in their plans on returning.
Respondents were asked to report the zip code in which they lived while they served on COYAC. From the reported zip codes, the majority of respondents are from the Front Range of Colorado, with a strong concentration in the Denver-metro area. Only one respondent indicated they were from western Colorado, with no respondents indicating they grew up on the eastern plains.
COYAC Participation and Impact on Levels of Civic Engagement
The first question this research seeks to understand is if participation in COYAC has
impacted levels of civic engagement for past members. The descriptive statistics from the questions regarding current levels of civic engagement trended towards high levels of participation, with 26 out of 27 of respondents stating they have participated in community service within the last 12 months. Only one respondent stated that they have participated in some type of community service, but not within the last year.
The types of organizations past members are participating with varies. There were 57% (n=12) who indicated that they are working with a civic or community based organization which focuses on helping vulnerable populations. Participation with environmental, political, advocacy or any other type of organization was split. While COYAC is a program that directly exposes young adults to the political process, the majority of respondents are not participating with advocacy or political organizations. For frequencies of all organizations, see Appendix C, Table 2.
The level of commitment to regular volunteerism or participation with these organizations is also high. Of the respondents, 57% (n=12) are participating in community
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service more than once a month. Interestingly, none of the respondents selected that their community service obligations are one time commitments. The members are not only engaging in volunteer work, but also participating frequently with their organizations of choice.
Former COYAC members are also working in their communities informally to solve public problems, with 77% (n=17) participating in this type of activity within the last 12 months. Respondents are also involved in some type of association or formal group, with 83% (n=18) meeting more than once a month. While the frequencies indicate COYAC members to be slightly more engaged through a formal group or association participation, the small number of responses cannot support any substantive difference between these forms of participation.
Thus, the answer to the research question regarding COYACs impact on levels of civic engagement is that participation in the program has, in some way, influenced the high level of engagement and volunteerism seen in the survey responses. Because respondents were not asked a question regarding civic participation prior to COYAC, the first hypothesis which proposes that the program increases volunteerism and engagement levels cannot be statistically supported. Views of Civic Identity
The overall responses from the questions regarding civic identity are presented in Appendix C, Table 3. These statements and responses were all measured on the same Likert scale. Views on civic identity also trended positively. Statements regarding making a difference in ones community, ability to contribute, and importance of participation received responses which were concentrated on the top end of the Likert scale at strongly agree and somewhat agree. With ability and importance to contribute receiving all strongly agree (n=22); belief in making a difference received 18 strongly agree and 4 somewhat agree; followed by importance of participation with 17 strongly agree and 5 somewhat agree.
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The statements about the importance of participation in elections and belief of having the power to impact change on issues that are important also received responses that trended highly towards strongly agree but did receive a small number of responses of neither agree nor disagree. Belief in importance of participating in elections receiving 21 strongly agree with only one respondent selecting neither agree nor disagree.
Importance of Civic Participation
Respondents were asked two identical questions which required them to reflect on their time before COYAC and then after with regard to their views on the importance of civic engagement. Table 4 (Appendix C) presents the responses for these two questions. Responses to their views prior to COYAC were mixed, with 36% (n=8) stating civic participation prior to COYAC was very important and 31% (n=7) reporting this was moderately important. Responses to their views of civic participation after participating in COYAC increased with 72% (n=16) selecting extremely important. While respondents seemed to value civic participation prior to participating in the program, there was a shift in the extent to which they value this type of engagement.
The results of a Chi-Square test are presented in Table 5 Appendix C. While expected results for changes in levels of importance in civic participation from before and after COYAC participation are slightly higher in the reported results, the Chi-Square statistic of 2.8 is not statistically significant at a .05 significance level. While the descriptive statistics indicate some variation, the Chi-Square test does not statistically indicate any significant change between their time before the program and after in regard to the importance of civic engagement.
Qualitative Question Findings
The survey asked respondents two questions regarding their views on civic engagement. The first question asked if there was a defining moment in their life which shaped their views on
22


COYAC IMPACT ON CIVIC IDENITY AND PARTICIPATION
civic engagement. The second question asked if COYAC specifically helped shape their views on the importance of engaging with the community. Compared to the response rate for multiple choice options, the response rate for the opened ended questions was lower, with 19 responses for each question.
Responses ranged in regard to identifying a defining moment that shaped views on civic engagement. For those who stated in the positive (n=l 1) responses focused on participation through volunteering, civic groups, and their work with COYAC. Those who stated they did not have a defining moment in their life (n=8), trended towards citing their home environment as a constant source of instilling a sense of community involvement and responsibility to participate. Respondents who stated they did not have a defining moment (n= 8) also referred back to their home life as the influence on their views and commitment to community engagement.
All but one respondent stated that COYAC specifically helped shape their views on the importance of engaging in their communities. One individual stated they already had an established desire to serve and represent the needs and issues of Colorado youth. Respondents who indicated COYAC, in some way, impacted their views of civic engagement all expressed how the program changed their sense of agency. These answers focused on how the program exposed them to the importance of community involvement and how citizens have a role in shaping public policy. Moreover, these responses indicate an understanding from the members of having the power and ability to shape their communities and impact issues that are important to them.
Based on the findings from survey questions focused on civic identity, views prior to and after COYAC participation and the open-ended questions, the answer to the research question regarding COYACs impact on civic identity is that the program has had an impact on past
23


COYAC IMPACT ON CIVIC IDENITY AND PARTICIPATION
members and their viewpoints. Because of the low sample size, the Chi-Square test cannot statistically support any change in views of the importance of civic identity, thus not supporting the second hypothesis that participation in the program has changed the civic identity of past members.
Discussion and Recommendations
While the findings of this study do not statistically support the hypotheses, the responses do indicate that past members are highly involved in their communities and have a belief that they have the power and ability to make positive change. These findings run parallel to the literature on the importance of youth civic engagement programs. Kirshner (2007) expresses the importance of youth civic engagement programs as pivotal moments that expose young adults to the power of community action and the importance of working together to solve public problems. The responses from the former members echo these themes both from the questions regarding civic participation as well as the open-ended questions. Respondents reported high levels of civic participation, with a majority volunteering with an organization within the last 12 months. Their focus of involvement is varied across organizations, implying that while COYAC members are highly involved in civic life, the program did not just focus their interests on political activities.
Additionally, past members are involved in associations and informal community action. Literature echoes the importance of both of these types of engagement. Putnam (2010) views association participation as an indicator of social capital. While Amna (2012) illustrates the complexities of youth involvement, often choosing a form or focus of participation based on personal interests and belief in ones ability to make change in that specific arena. Survey results support both of these assumptions with high levels of formal group participation as well as informal engagement to solve a public problem. Moreover, this participation is frequent with
24


COYAC IMPACT ON CIVIC IDENITY AND PARTICIPATION
most respondents indicating they were involved in some type of service or group activity more than once a month.
The qualitative responses also reflect this high level of civic engagement and the role COYAC played in shaping their commitment to public participation. One former member stated: COYAC has undoubtedly shaped my views on the importance of engaging in my community. It is always interesting to see the ideas and problems presented by the other representatives in the organization. It not only opens your eyes to the issue that you are working on but the three or four other issues that your peers are working on. COYAC has showed me that there are many areas in our own communities that need work and that even the smallest contributions can help.
The results of the research cannot statically support higher levels of civic participation or volunteerism by the former COYAC members. Yet the views of those who did respond indicate that these former members value public participation and choose to engage frequently with their communities. For the Colorado Legislative Council and General Assembly, these findings support their investment in the program. Former members are engaged in their communities, not only through volunteer work or associations, but also informal community action. COYAC participation has potentially shaped the civic views and actions of these young adults. With a large number of the past members living in Colorado or planning on returning, the General Assembly should view the program as an investment in the future civic leaders of the State.
The influence COYAC has made on the civic identity of past members supports themes in the literature which also find that engagement in civic programs during formative years impacts and shapes participants views, identity, and beliefs. Kirshner (2009) in particular, states that involvement in civic programs at a young age impacts ones view of individual agency and
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COYAC IMPACT ON CIVIC IDENITY AND PARTICIPATION
ability to make positive change in the community. Additionally, young adults are learning how to use their power collectively in order to make an impact. These themes are present in the qualitative findings, the analysis of the civic identity measurements and questions regarding views of civic engagement before and after the program.
The results of the Chi-Square test, while not statically significant, show that there was change in how past members view the importance of civic engagement. On average, respondents also felt strongly that they had the power and ability to make positive change in their communities. Past COYAC members not only value civic participation, but also believe they have the power to make a positive change. Interestingly, the civic identity measure that received a high number of strongly agrees (n=21) but one neither agree nor disagree, was the commitment to voting. While the response rate to the survey was low, this result runs contrary to the theme in in the literature which proposes that young adults are finding alternative ways of participating in democracy, outside of voting (Dalton, 2007).
Finally, the qualitative responses also illuminate a change in views of civic identity. Past members stated that the program showed them they have the ability to make change and participate in their community. In some ways, the impact COYAC has made on the past members civic identity, and the belief they can make a change, is an influence on their levels of engagement. One member stated, Yes, it furthered my passion for community service and showed me more in depth how engaging in my community can make a real impact. It seems that for one to be engaged and involved in the community, the focus should not just be on the action of participation but also shaping civic identity and the belief that an individual or group has the power to make positive change. As stated above, these changes in civic identity may influence levels of participation in civic life. For the Colorado Legislative Council and General
26


COYAC IMPACT ON CIVIC IDENITY AND PARTICIPATION
Assembly, this means that their investment is helping shape civically minded and engaged individuals.
The demographic question responses indicate a concentration from the Denver-metro area. Which could be attributed to the low response rate, but is also reflective of the lopsided participation in the program. The districts for Denver-metro, and more broadly, the Front Range are more likely to be filled with a Council member. Districts for western and particularly the eastern part of the State often have a vacant seat. The experience of students outside of the urban areas is much different and they may have a unique relationship with civic engagement and their civic identity because of the community in which they were raised.
Implications and Recommendations
For the client, these findings provide evidence and support for the continuation of the COYAC program. COYAC is helping shape young adults who are civically engaging and giving back to their community. The State should see this as an investment in the future leaders of Colorado. With 68% of respondents still living in Colorado, these young adults are volunteering and giving back in the State. COYAC is not only providing an experience in high school but helping shape adults who will be Colorados next generation of leaders, making the program a worthwhile investment. The following are recommendations to Legislative Council, the General Assembly and managing organization of COYAC.
Recommendation 1. The managing organization of COYAC should create a survey that is administered before and after completion of a COYAC term. This will be for all incoming COYAC members that will accurately track any changes in civic participation and views. There should be a follow-up survey every four to five years, measuring how past members views and participation have potentially changed over time. Additionally, and if resources allow, a control group should be tested and the findings used to measure the difference between demographically
27


COYAC IMPACT ON CIVIC IDENITY AND PARTICIPATION
similar populations by measuring the impact of COYAC participation. The continuation of survey implementation and the potential use of a control group provide an accurate measurement of change and serve as evidence for the Colorado General Assembly on the impact of the program.
Recommendation 2. The managing organization of COYAC should establish an alumni network to keep past members involved and engaged. This network will allow for past members to stay involved in projects they were engaged with through COYAC as well as use other members as resources. Additionally, the creation of an alumni network can be used to show the power of the program, showing that members are staying involved far past their COYAC term. The creation of the alumni network will also aid the implementation of the first recommendation. Gathering the contact information of older past members will potentially produce more representative survey results.
Limitations
This study provides valuable insights into the current levels and views of civic engagement of past COYAC members, but does have limitations which impact the generalizability of the findings. First, the small sample size limits the statistical significance of the findings. Only a limited number of the former member emails were available for survey distribution. The rest of the members who participated earlier, were only available by name and had to be found online via social media platforms. This limited the response rate for members who participated before 2013.
The generalizability of the findings in the study are also limited due to the lack of any data which measure levels of civic engagement and identity prior to COYAC participation or from a control group which could be used to measure differences between the two populations. Since members lives changed from being in high school to college and adult life, it was difficult
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COYAC IMPACT ON CIVIC IDENITY AND PARTICIPATION
to ask a survey question regarding participation in high school and compare that to engagement after that time period. Therefore, any change in levels of civic engagement could not be statistically supported through this research. The implementation of recommendation one would help provide substantive data for statistical analysis of any change in levels of civic engagement and identity.
Conclusion
This research sought to explore and understand the potential impact participation in COYAC has had on past Council members levels of civic engagement and identity. There is a robust body of literature that explores the impact of youth civic engagement programs and how involvement in such programs shapes later in life civic participation and ones belief in their ability to create change in their community. By studying COYAC, this research aims at adding to this body of literature, and serving as an example of the specific impact of a legislative youth program. While the survey design and small sample size limits the generalizability of the findings, the research does show that COYAC participation has had a substantive impact on past members civic engagement and identity. The client can use these findings as support for the States investment in COYAC, showing how the program is helping shape the next generation of Colorado leaders.
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COYAC IMPACT ON CIVIC IDENITY AND PARTICIPATION
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Amna, E. (2012). How is civic engagement developed over time? emerging answers from a multidisciplinary field. Journal of Adolescence, 35(3), 611-627.
Billett, P. (2012). Indicators of youth social capital: The case for not using adult indicators in the measurement of youth social capital. Youth Studies Australia, 31(2), 9-16.
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Jensen, C., & Vontz, T. S. (2016). Social Capital. In S. Schechter, T. S. Vontz, T. A. Birkland, M. A. Graber, & J. J. Patrick (Eds.), American Governance (Vol. 5, pp. 69-70). Farmington Hills, MI: Macmillan Reference USA.
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Putnam, R. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of american community. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
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leadership and civic engagement. New Directions for Youth Development, 2006(109), 89-97.
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Appendix A
Measurement Table
Variable Measure Level of Measure Data Source
Hypothesis 1: Participation in COYAC has impacted past member views on their civic identity.
IV (1) Importance of voting. Level of agreement with the statement As a citizen, I believe voting in elections is my civic duty. Nominal Survey response
IV (2) Ability to make a difference in the community. Level of agreement with the statement I believe I can make a difference in my community. Nominal Survey response
IV (3) Importance of contributing through community service. Level of agreement with the statement It is important to me to contribute to my community through community service. Nominal Survey response
IV (4) Relationship between participation and community development Level of agreement with the statement I believe that participating in my community is essential for its development. Nominal Survey Response
IV (5) Power to impact and make change on issues that are important. Level of agreement with the statement I believe I have the power to impact change on issues I think are important. Nominal Survey response
IV (6) Views on the importance of civic engagement prior to COYAC participation. Level of agreement with the statement PRIOR to participating in COYAC, how important was civic engagement to you? Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities either through political or non-political activities. Nominal Survey response
IV (7) Views on the importance of civic engagement after COYAC participation. Level of agreement with the statement AFTER participating in COYAC, how important is civic engagement to you? Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our Nominal Survey response
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COYAC IMPACT ON CIVIC IDENITY AND PARTICIPATION
communities either through political or non-political activities.
IV (8) Defining moments that help shape views of importance of engaging in ones community. Identification of potential life moment that helped shape views on the importance of community service. Open ended Survey response
IV (9) Influence of COYAC on views of participating in ones community. Statement of if and to what degree participation in COYAC influenced views on the importance of engaging with the community. Open ended Survey response
Hypothesis 2: Participation in COYAC has impacted past members levels of civic engagement.
IV (1) Participation in community service Participation in community service within the last 12 months. Nominal Survey response
IV (2) Focus of community service participation. Type of organization or group individual has chosen to volunteer their time. Nominal Survey response
IV (3) Frequency of community service participation. Frequency of community service within the last 12 months. Nominal Survey response
IV (4) Frequency of working informally to solve problems Indication of level of participation in an informal effort to solve a public problem. Nominal Survey response
IV (5) Membership to a formal group or organization Indication of membership to a formal group or organization Nominal Survey response
IV (6) Frequency of participation in formal group or organization Frequency of participation in formal group or organization within the last 12 months. Nominal Survey response
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COYAC IMPACT ON CIVIC IDENITY AND PARTICIPATION
Appendix B
Survey
Civic Engagement
1. Have you ever spent time participating in any community service? Community service means giving your time to help others or an organization for no compensation.
a. Yes, in the last 12 months
b. Yes, but not within the last 12 months
c. No, I have not
d. I do not know
i. IF WITHIN 12 MONTHS: Which type of organization have you volunteered with in the last 12 months (If multiple, select the one you participate in most)?
1. An environmental organization
2. A civic or community organization involved in health or social services. This could be an organization to help the poor, elderly, youth, homeless, religious organization, etc.
3. Political organization. This could be a political party or a campaign.
4. Advocacy organization. This could be an organization that works towards gaining equal access and rights to particular groups of people.
5. Any other type of group.
ii. IF NOT WITHIN 12 MONTHS: Which type of organization have you volunteered with outside of the past 12 months (If multiple, select the one you participate in most)?
1. An environmental organization
2. A civic or community organization involved in health or social services. This could be an organization to help the poor, elderly, youth, homeless, religious organization, etc.
3. Political organization. This could be a political party or a campaign.
4. Advocacy organization. This could be an organization that works towards gaining equal access and rights to particular groups of people.
5. Any other type of group.
iii. IF NO AND DONT KNOW: What has been your reason for not participating in community service?
1. I do not have enough time
2. I have not found a cause or organization that aligns with my interests I care enough about
3. Community service is not a priority for me
4. I do not want to answer
iv. IF WITHIN 12 MONTHS: How frequently do you participate in community service?
1. It is usually a one-time commitment
2. Less than 3 times a year
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COYAC IMPACT ON CIVIC IDENITY AND PARTICIPATION
3. 4 to 6 times a year
4. Roughly once a month
5. More than once a month
2. OPEN ENDED: Was there a defining moment in your life that helped shape your views on the importance of engaging with your community?
3. OPEN ENDED: Did participating in COYAC specifically help shape your views on the importance of engaging in your community, if so, how?
Community problem solving
1. Have you ever worked together informally with someone or some group to solve a problem in the community where you live?
a. Yes, in the last 12 months,
b. Yes, but not within the last 12 months
c. No, I have not
d. I do not know
Group Membership
2. Are you a member of a group or association? (Examples: Junior League, young adult religious groups, political party organizations)
a. Yes
b. No
i. IF YES: How often have you participated in this group or association in the last year? This could include meetings, events, volunteer activities, etc. (If you participate in more than one, select answer for the group or association which you participate most frequently.)
1. Rarely, less than once a year
2. 3 times
3. 4 to 6 times
4. Roughly once a month
5. More than once a month
Civic Identity
The following questions are on a scale from Strongly agree to strongly disagree. Please read the statement and select the answer that most accurately reflects how you currently feel.
3. Asa citizen, I believe voting in elections is my civic duty.
a. Strongly Agree
b. Somewhat agree
c. Neutral
d. Somewhat disagree
e. Strongly disagree
4. I believe I can make a difference in my community.
a. Strongly Agree
b. Somewhat agree
c. Neutral
d. Somewhat disagree
e. Strongly disagree
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COYAC IMPACT ON CIVIC IDENITY AND PARTICIPATION
5. It is important to me to contribute to my community through community service.
a. Strongly Agree
b. Somewhat agree
c. Neutral
d. Somewhat disagree
e. Strongly disagree
Measurements of Civic Identity in Regard to Agency
6. I believe that participating in my community is essential for its development,
a. Strongly Agree Somewhat agree Neutral
Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree
I believe I have the power to impact change on issues I think are important
a. Strongly Agree Somewhat agree Neutral
Somewhat disagree
e. Strongly disagree
7.
b.
c.
d.
e.
b.
c.
d.
COYAC specific civic identity
8.
9.
On a 1 to 5 scale, 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest. PRIOR to participating in COYAC, how important was civic engagement to you? Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities either through political or non-political activities.
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
1
2
3
4
5
On a 1 to 5 scale, 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest. AFTER participating in COYAC, how important is civic engagement to you? Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities either through political or nonpolitical activities.
10.
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
1
2
3
4
5
Demographic Questions
11. What year did you graduate high school? a. 2008
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COYAC IMPACT ON CIVIC IDENITY AND PARTICIPATION
b. 2009
c. 2010
d. 2011
e. 2012
f. 2013
g- 2014
h. 2015
i. 2016
j- 2017
k. Have not graduated yet
12. Are you currently attending school or living in Colorado?
a. Yes
b. No
i. IF NO: Do you plan on returning to Colorado?
1. Yes
2. No
3. Not sure
13. Select the County for which you resided during your time on COYAC
a. Drop down of all counties for respondent to select
14. How do you consider your current socioeconomic status, compared to when you participated in COYAC?
a. It has increased
b. It has decreased
c. It has stayed the same
d. I do not know
15. Which gender do you identify with?
a. Female
b. Male
c. Non-binary/ third gender
d. I prefer not to say
16. Which race do you identify with?
a. White
b. Hispanic or Latino
c. Black or African-American
d. Native American or American Indian
e. Asian/Pacific Islander
f. Other
g. I prefer not to say
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COYAC IMPACT ON CIVIC IDENITY AND PARTICIPATION
Appendix C Findings
Table 1
Respondent Demographic Information
What gender do you identify with?
Answer % Count
Female 59.09% 13
Male 40.91% 9
Non-binary/ third gender 0.00% 0
I prefer not to say 0.00% 0
Total 100% 22
Which race or ethnicity do you identify with?
Answer % Count
American Indian or Alaska Native 0.00% 0
Asian 9.09% 2
Black or African American 4.55% 1
Hispanic or Latino 9.09% 2
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander 0.00% 0
Some other race 4.55% 1
Two or more races 0.00% 0
White 72.73% 16
Total 100% 22
What year did you graduate high school?
Answer % Count
2008 0.00% 0
2009 0.00% 0
2010 9.09% 2
2011 0.00% 0
2012 4.55% 1
2013 0.00% 0
2014 13.64% 3
2015 18.18% 4
2016 22.73% 5
2017 31.82% 7
Total 100% 22
Are you currently attending school or living in Colorado?
Answer % Count
Yes 68.18% 15
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COYAC IMPACT ON CIVIC IDENITY AND PARTICIPATION
No Total 31.82% 100% 7 22
Do you plan on returning to Colorado?
Answer % Count
Yes 57.14% 4
Maybe 42.86% 3
No 0.00% 0
Total 100% 7
Table 2 Community Service Question Responses
Have you ever spent time participating in any community service? Community giving your time to help others or an organization for no compensation. r service means
Answer % Count
Yes, in the last 12 months 96.30% 26
Yes, but not within the last 12 months 3.70% 1
No, I have not 0.00% 0
I do not know 0.00% 0
Total 100% 27
Which type of organization have you volunteered with in the last 12 months (If multiple, select the one you participate in most)?
Answer % Count
An environmental organization 9.52% 2
A civic or community organization involved in health or social services This could be an organization to help the poor, elderly, youth, a homeless, religious organization, etc. 57.14% 12
A political organization. This could be a political party or a campaign. 9.52% 2
An Advocacy organization. This could be an organization that works towards gaining equal access and rights to particular groups of people 14.29% 3
Any other type of group 9.52% 2
Total 100% 21
How frequently do you participate in community service?
Answer % Count
It is usually a one-time commitment 0.00% 0
Less than 3 times a year 9.52% 2
4 to 6 times a year 9.52% 2
Roughly once a month 23.81% 5
More than once a month 57.14% 12
Total 100% 21
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COYAC IMPACT ON CIVIC IDENITY AND PARTICIPATION
Have you ever worked together informally with someone or some group to solve a problem in the community where you live?
Answer % Count
Yes, in the last 12 months 77.27% 17
Yes, but not within the last 12 months 18.18% 4
No, I have not 0.00% 0
I do not know 4.55% 1
Total 100% 22
Are you a member of a group or association? (Examples: Junior League, young adult religious groups, political party organizations)
Answer % Count
Yes 81.82% 18
No 18.18% 4
Total 100% 22
How often have you participated in this group or association in the last year? This could
include meetings, events, volunteer activities, etc. (If you participate in more than one, select
answer for the group or association which you participate most frequently.)
Answer % Count
Rarely, less than once a year 0.00% 0
Less than 3 times a year 5.56% 1
4 to 6 times a year 5.56% 1
Roughly once a month 5.56% 1
More than once a month 83.33% 15
Total 100% 18
Table 3
Citizen Identity Question Responses
As a citizen, I believe voting in elections is my civic duty.
Answer % Count
Strongly agree 95.45% 21
Somewhat agree 0.00% 0
Neither agree nor disagree 4.55% 1
Somewhat disagree 0.00% 0
Strongly disagree 0.00% 0
Total 100% 22
I believe I can make a difference in my community.
Answer % Count
Strongly agree 81.82% 18
Somewhat agree 18.18% 4
Neither agree nor disagree 0.00% 0
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COYAC IMPACT ON CIVIC IDENITY AND PARTICIPATION
Somewhat disagree 0.00% 0
Strongly disagree 0.00% 0
Total 100% 22
It is important to me to contribute to my community through community service.
Answer % Count
Strongly agree 100.00% 22
Somewhat agree 0.00% 0
Neither agree nor disagree 0.00% 0
Somewhat disagree 0.00% 0
Strongly disagree 0.00% 0
Total 100% 22
I believe that participating in my community is essential for its development.
Answer % Count
Strongly agree 77.27% 17
Somewhat agree 22.73% 5
Neither agree nor disagree 0.00% 0
Somewhat disagree 0.00% 0
Strongly disagree 0.00% 0
Total 100% 22
I believe I have the power to impact change on issues I think are important.
Answer % Count
Strongly agree 77.27% 17
Somewhat agree 18.18% 4
Neither agree nor disagree 4.55% 1
Somewhat disagree 0.00% 0
Strongly disagree 0.00% 0
Total 100% 22
Table 4
Importance of Civic Engagement Prior and After
PRIOR to participating in COYAC, how important was civic engagement to you? Civic
engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities either
through political or non-political activities.
Answer % Count
Extremely important 18.18% 4
Very important 36.36% 8
Moderately important 31.82% 7
Slightly important 4.55% 1
Not at all important 9.09% 2
42


COYAC IMPACT ON CIVIC IDENITY AND PARTICIPATION
Total_______________________________________________________100%__________________22__________
AFTER participating in COYAC, how important is civic engagement to you? Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities either through political or non-political activities.
Answer % Count
Extremely important 72.73% 16
Very important 27.27% 6
Moderately important 0.00% 0
Slightly important 0.00% 0
Not at all important 0.00% 0
Total 100% 22
Table 5
Chi-Square Test of Prior to After COYAC Participation views on Importance of Civic Engagement
PRIOR to COYAC participation
Extremely
important
Moderately
important
Not at all important
Slightly
important
Very
important
Total
AFTER COYAC participation
Extremely
important
Very important
4
2.9
100
5
5.1
71.43
1
1.5
50
1
0.7
100
5
5.8
62,50
16
16.0
72.73
0
1.1
0
2
1.9
28.57
1
.5
50
0
0.3
0
3
2.2
37,50
6
6.0
27.27
Total
4
4.0 100
7
7.0 100
2
2.0 100
1
1.0
100
8
8.0
100
22
22.0
100
43


COYAC IMPACT ON CIVIC IDENITY AND PARTICIPATION
Appendix D
Documentation of Program Competencies
The University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs evaluates student performance through five core competencies that demonstrate the skill, knowledge and expertise needed in order to obtain a Master of Public Administration. This project The Impact of Youth Engagement Efforts on Civic Participation: A Study of the Colorado Youth Advisory Council demonstrates proficiencies in the competencies of (1) leading and managing in public governance, (2) participation and contribution to the public policy process, and (3) analysis, synthesis, in order to think critically and solve problems and make decisions.
Lead and Manage in Public Governance
The course PUAD 5006 Public Service Leadership taught the importance of leadership, and ways to develop and practice leadership in the public sector. Particularly, the course instilled the importance of developing the skills of leaders and how the practice of leadership in the public space has changed and adapted. This research demonstrates an understanding of the importance of leadership development through the topic itself and survey design. The research itself was seeking to understand to what extend formative experiences in public leadership and civic engagement help create future leaders in communities. In the survey design, the project demonstrated a nuanced understanding how leadership may be practiced by young adults in the public space. Questions ranged from more traditional concepts of leadership, such as volunteerism and group engagement, along with how individuals may personally view themselves as civic leaders through statements about civic identity.
This research also demonstrates the ability to use data to set mission driven goals for continuous program improvement. While the survey for this research was only distributed to past
44


COYAC IMPACT ON CIVIC IDENITY AND PARTICIPATION
COYAC members, the greater goal for the project is to have the survey administered to students as they enter the program and to past members every year to accurately track the impact of the program. By tracking the potential changes in civic engagement and views of members, there will be more data to accurately evaluate the efficacy of the program. This will not only give the General Assembly data to make an informed decision on continuing the program or changing funding levels, but will also provide the managing organization of COYAC valuable insight into their curriculum and its impact.
Participate in and Contribute to the Public Policy Process
The course PUAD 5005 The Policy Process and Democracy explored theories and examples of how public policy can and has changed. Through the exploration of theoretical frameworks of policy change, examples of different public policies were evaluated for their success or failure of adoption and implementation. The course also taught different ways groups or individuals seek to engage in the policy process and potential barriers to access. Through this research, the efficacy of a particular public policy choice was evaluated. Understanding the implications and outcomes of COYAC not only reflects upon the experience of students but the choice of Legislators to pass legislation which represents their belief in the importance of youth civic engagement programs. Additionally, a review of the literature explores the shift in public policy towards a focus on experiential, youth civic learning programs as an important aspect of development.
The research also demonstrates an understanding of how individuals can patriciate in the policy change process. The survey design incorporates questions regarding the belief in ones ability to impact policy and greater public change as a part of the civic identity indicators.
45


COYAC IMPACT ON CIVIC IDENITY AND PARTICIPATION
Understand the civic infinity of future leaders will ultimately influence how public policy is changed in the future.
Analyze, Synthesis, Think Critically, Solve Problems and Make Decisions
An understanding of statistical analysis and research methods in the social sciences were acquired through PUAD 5003 Research Analytic Methods. This course explored the different statistical tools used in order the evaluate and understand data. Additionally, research design and sampling methods were explored. The course also discussed the components of survey design and the development of survey interview protocol and analysis of qualitative data. This project demonstrates an understanding of research design, statistical analysis, and survey development. The design of the research project specifically sought to understand changes in civic engagement and views of civic identity, and this informed the design the survey and the variables that were sought to be measured. Limitations of statistical analysis were encountered with the small sample size and return rate. Appropriate tests were used to understand potential relationships between participation in COYAC and the outcomes on levels of civic engagement and identity. These tests and measurements were used to test the hypothesis and answer the research questions.
46


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