Lincoln, NE — Robust civic health leads to many benefits for communities – resilient economies, representative and accountable governments, and higher social capital. Today, the first-ever Civic Health Index for the state of Nebraska is released to document Nebraskanså rates of interacting with neighbors, communicating with family and friends, being members of groups, volunteering and giving, registering and voting, and being involved in politics.
“Nebraska shows clear strengths, but also clear areas of need in our stateås civic health,” said Adam Morfeld, Executive Director of Nebraskans for Civic Reform, the lead partner organization of the Nebraska Civic Health Partnership. “Civic health is something we all own together, and something that will create strong, vibrant and economically successful communities across the state.”
The results show that in relation to other states, Nebraskans enjoy strong civic health, particularly in activities related to social connectedness (82.3% interact with family or friends frequently – and confidence in institutions, more than 90% of Nebraskans are confident in public schools, 5th highest nationally.) The state’s weakest area of civic health is political involvement, ranking 36th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia in voter participation. 12.2% of Nebraskans reporting that they contact public officials.
The report data was obtained primarily from the 2012 and 2013 US Census Bureau Current Population Surveys on Voting, Volunteering, and Civic Engagement collected in partnership with the Corporation for National & Community Service. The index provides data-backed action steps to strengthen civic health including:
-Continue to grow the strong tradition of connecting all Nebraskans.
-Create and promote accessible networks for community engagement.
-Activate Nebraskans to register and vote by modernizing the process.
-Increase interaction between elected representatives and constituents.
-Prioritize civic education that fosters civic action for all students in Nebraska.
“Civic health is essential to the future of this state,” said Julie Dierberger of UNO Service Learning Academy. We are excited to partner and engage our students in their communities.”
The report is the first unified project of the Nebraska Civic Health Partnership, dedicated to addressing and strengthening civic health and education in Nebraska. Partners include Nebraskans for Civic Reform, the Nebraska Public Policy Center, the UNO Service Learning Academy, Campus Compact, and the Nebraska Community Foundation. The report was made possible by generous funding from the Weitz Family Foundation. The National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) provided key data analysis and advisement on the project.
“The Nebraska Civic Health Partnership is doing critical work by highlighting the stateås civic health strengths and weaknesses,” said Ilir Zherka, Executive Director of the National Conference on Citizenship. “Nebraskans can now leverage this data and their strong social connections towards greater community and political action.”
Any individuals or community groups interested in learning more about the index or civic health programming should contact Kelsey Arends at Nebraskans for Civic Reform (firstname.lastname@example.org or (402) 904-5191.)