The numbers are in…and they’re shameful. In the recent midterm elections, only 36 percent of eligible Americans bothered to vote – that’s the worst turnout in 72 years. And it is just this kind of widespread apathy that motivated Scott Warren to co-found Generation Citizen in 2008 when he was a senior at Brown University.
He was struck by what he says has become the prevailing American mindset.
“The notion of all of us being better when we’re all doing better seems to be in the past. Rather it’s, as long as I’m doing well I’m happy, regardless of whether you’re doing well.”
Generation Citizen was designed to turn the “me” perspective into “we,” to re-instill the democratic spirit in which individuals come together to make a collective difference in their communities. And the way to do that, Scott believes, is by promoting action-civics in America’s public school system. Students today receive only one semester of civics in school whereas they used to receive six. Scott’s message to high school students is clear.
“It’s up to you as young people to change this narrative, to make sure that your voice is heard and what you care about once again matters. It’s about fighting for the collective, rather than your own interests; fighting for something bigger than yourself.”
Generation Citizen teaches young people direct political action. Through an innovative in-class curriculum, students work with local leaders to fix local problems. Trained college volunteers, called Democracy Coaches, motivate students to take action through GC’s innovative mentoring program.
“We work to ensure that every student in the United States receives an effective action-civics education, which provides them with the knowledge and skills necessary to participate in our democracy.”
Scott’s passion for activism stems from his experiences growing up abroad. After his father joined the State Department, Scott lived throughout Latin America and Africa, learning about diverse cultures and peoples. He witnessed emerging democracies in Kenya, Ecuador, Argentina and the Dominican Republic. And now he wants to imbue American’s young people with that same democratic energy.
Since its founding, GC has grown to serve students in four cities, training over 1,200 college Democracy Coaches, empowering more than 20,000 young people in Providence, Boston, New York City, and the San Francisco Bay Area. And Scott hopes to spread his message even wider.
“This needs to be the start and not the finish because Generation Citizen cannot be unique. We envision a country of young people working as active
and effective citizens to collectively rebuild our American democracy.”
Don’t talk about change, lead it… and participate in an interactive program with students nationwide to help revitalize America’s democracy. Get involved at www.generationcitizen.org