Civic Engagement and Service

Youth civic engagement happens when youth are encouraged to become directly involved in decision-making and policies that affect their daily lives. This can be done through volunteerism, activism, and advocacy work, and through engagement in civic life and service, youth can become informed about and shape current events.

In addition to supporting and building their community, youth volunteering and engaging in their community has many benefits:

  • Promotion of a healthy lifestyle, empathy and good choices
  • Enhanced psychological and intellectual development
  • Increased self-esteem and responsibility
  • Interest in learning and applying new material
  • New social skills
  • Improved physical and mental health; lower rates of depression,
  • And greater life satisfaction.


Wake County Planning Blueprint Outcomes:

Percent of Wake County 18-25-year-olds who vote in general elections

Number of 18-year-olds who are registered voters

Percent of Career and Technical Education Students meeting ACT Work Keys Proficiency

Youth unemployment rate


Voting (Census tracking)

Voting is an incredibly important civic duty, but unfortunately, many youth and others do not engage in the process for a variety of reasons. Youth voter turnout has been historically low since the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 with the passage of the 26th Amendment in 1971. In 2016, approximately 46% of eligible youth voted. While there are many barriers affecting a youth’s ability to vote, here are a few: access to voting facilities without having to wait in line for a long time, ambivalence about the process and leaders, lack of understanding of necessary information such as absentee ballots, locations, etc., the registration process including same-day registration or automatic registration, and more.

Learn more about voting here.

Empowerment and Advocacy

Youth empowerment and advocacy are when youth are encouraged to become directly involved in decision-making and policies that affect their daily lives. Youth empowerment is different than youth development. Youth development works to increase a youth’s individual capacity, whereas youth empowerment is focused on creating greater community change. Youth development and capacity building is an important aspect of youth empowerment. 

Learn more about empowerment and advocacy here.


Volunteerism has many benefits for youth from giving back to the community, learning new skills, increasing their social skills, and taking positives risks which are so important for youth development. Volunteering can also be an important avenue for youth to learn and explore potential career opportunities. There is no age to begin volunteering as there are opportunities for young children with adult supervision to find ways to give.

Learn more about volunteerism here.