Civic Engagement: Miami Among Worst Cities; Study Unveiled at MIAMI FOUNDATION Event

A national study of civic engagement by people in major cities shows Miamians are among the least to be involved in their community.
By: The Miami Foundation
 
 
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Jan. 31, 2011 - PRLog -- MIAMI, FL – January 24, 2011 – A national study of civic engagement by people in major cities shows Miamians are among the least to be involved in their community.
The report, entitled A Tale of Two Cities: Civic Heath in Miami and Minneapolis-St. Paul, was unveiled to Miami community leaders convened by the Miami Foundation.  It examines communities’ civic health, measured indicators such as volunteering, community engagement, voter turn out, and one-on-one interactions with neighbors.
While the report show that people with higher levels of education and income typically engage more in community affairs, individuals in Minneapolis-St. Paul who are in the lowest income group are more likely to be civically involved than are people in the wealthiest tier in Miami.  It also found people with a high school education in Minneapolis-St. Paul are about as likely to be engaged as someone with a college education in Miami.
“Our civic vitality largely depends on the health of our social fabrics, and this report helps to examine those social networks,” said Michael Weiser, Chairman of the national Conference on Citizenship.  The report is collaboration between the NCoC, the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship, and the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, with assistance from The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.
“The findings in this study are critical in learning how to improve our community,” said Javier Alberto Soto president of the Miami Foundation.  “Part of our mission as a foundation is to make people aware of these issues and start the discussion that will lead to getting citizens involved.”
Among the study’s conclusions:
•   Education in Minnesota appears to be more “civic.” Twin Cities’ schools collaborate more with other community based educative institutions and engage adult citizens in ways that build their satisfaction and trust.  Twin City institutions do a better job of teaching specifically civic knowledge.

•   Twin Cities' residents appear to have stronger social networks than do residents of Miami. More of them have meals with other members of their households (92% vs. 84%), use the Internet to connect with family and friends (64% vs. 55%), and talk to neighbors (51% vs. 45%).

•   Levels of trust and satisfaction are much higher in the St. Paul area than in the Miami area; 42% of St. Paul citizens generally trusted the local government, compared with just 24% of Miamians. Thirty-two percent of St. Paul citizens felt the leaders of their community represented their interests, compared with just 18% of Miamians.

•   Twin Cities residents were more than twice as likely to volunteer than Miami residents (37% vs. 15%), and 45% of Twin Cities residents had participated in at least one community group vs. 22% of Miamians. This may be due to the fact that non-profits, which are an important resource for civic engagement, are much more extensive and better resourced in the Twin Cities than Miami.  

“It is important to understand these underlying factors that contribute to the vitality of a civic culture of engagement,” said Douglas Dobson, author and Executive Director of the Lou Frey Institute of Politics and Government at the University of Central Florida. “This report helps us learn from those that are doing the best so we can help to strengthen the civic health of Miami and ultimately our nation.”

A Tale of Two Cities: Civic Engagement in Miami and Minneapolis-St. Paul is the result of collaboration among four partners: the National Conference on Citizenship, The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship, and the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship is a partnership between the Lou Frey Institute at the University of Central Florida and the Bob Graham Center at the University of Florida. Assistance was provided by CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement) at Tufts University.

Editor’s Note: The full report can be found at http://www.floridacitizen.org/news.php

About the Miami Foundation:  Established in 1967, The Miami Foundation, formerly the Dade Community Foundation, has helped hundreds of people create personal, permanent and powerful legacies by establishing custom, charitable funds. With foundation expertise, fund holders have fostered the arts, awarded scholarships, championed diversity, taught kids to read, provided food and shelter for the hungry and homeless, and more. More than $150 million in grants and scholarships has been awarded in the foundation’s 43-year history. Today, the foundation is steward to nearly $150 million in charitable assets. More information can be found at www.miamifoundation.org

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The Miami Foundation: Established in 1967, The Miami Foundation, formerly the Dade Community Foundation, has helped hundreds of people create personal, permanent and powerful legacies by establishing custom, charitable funds. With foundation expertise, fund holders have fostered the arts, awarded scholarships, championed diversity, taught kids to read, provided food and shelter for the hungry and homeless, and more. More than $150 million in grants and scholarships has been awarded in the foundation’s 43-year history. Today, the foundation is steward to nearly $150 million in charitable assets. More information can be found at www.miamifoundation.org
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