The Alabama Civic Health Index is the first report of its kind in the state. It is designed to help document traditional forms of participation, like voting and volunteering, and how Alabamians are connecting with friends, family, neighbors and institutions. The Civic Health Index finds that in 2010, Alabama ranked 18th in the nation for the percentage of citizens working with neighbors to solve community problems. This is in line with the findings that Alabama citizens ranked 4th in the nation for doing favors for neighbors and 7th in the nation for talking with neighbors.
The report identifies statewide efforts to foster civic engagement including civic education initiatives, volunteer programs and community-driven problem solving efforts. The David Mathews Center for Civic Life is working with citizens across Alabama to discuss what citizens can do to address the drop-out situation in their communities. Another featured program is the Alabama Poverty Project, which is helping Alabamians to eliminate poverty by providing presentations, seminars and working with communities to develop strategic plans to end poverty.
"We hope the Alabama Civic Health Index will inspire the development of new programs, initiatives, policy and investments that increase access and opportunity for all Alabamians to engage in their communities," Kristen Cambell, chief program officer of NCoC said. "This will not only strengthen the civic fabric of the state, but could create models that other states in our civic health network could learn from and replicate."
Key Research Findings
- While 33.9 percent of urban residents and 32.5 percent of rural residents discuss politics at least a few times a year, only 16.7 percent of suburban residents report doing so.
- Overall, only 43.9 percent of Alabamians connect over the Internet a few times a week or more; this is less than the national rate of 54.3 percent.
- Women tend to be more socially connected than men: 29.9 percent of women connected in three or more ways, compared with only 22.7 percent of men.
- Public work generally increases with age, peaking for those between the ages of 65 and 80 (9.9 percent). Education is also a strong predictor of public work - just 1.2 percent of adults without high school diplomas met the criteria, as compared to 9.4 percent of college graduates.
The David Mathews Center for Civic Life is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit, tax exempt corporation. The Center's purpose is to foster infrastructure, habits and capacities for more effective civic engagement and innovative public decision-making. The Mathews Center is focused on how citizens create political will and sustain public policy community decisions.
About The University of Alabama - New College
At the NCoC (the National Conference on Citizenship), we believe everyone has the power to make a difference in how their community and country thrive.
We are a dynamic, non-partisan nonprofit working at the forefront of our nation's civic life. We continuously explore what shapes today's citizenry, define the evolving role of the individual in our democracy, and uncover ways to motivate greater participation. Through our events, research, and reports, NCoC expands our nation's contemporary understanding of what it means to be a citizen. We seek new ideas and approaches for creating greater civic health and vitality throughout the United States.