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Youth Writing for Civic Engagement

A collaboration between UIC College of Education, youth, Chicago Public Schools, Digital Youth Network, and UIC Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement to plan a youth writing for civic engagement initiative.

We propose to collaborate to develop a Youth Writing for Civic Engagement Initiative. Partners for this initiative are interested in the following:

  • foregrounding youth voice in the development of the initiative,
  • writing as production (e.g., video production, making),
  • connecting Hive organizations to teachers/schools
  • the potential of writing/production for civic engagement (e.g., video
    production, making, social media publication to effect community change and/or to participate in civic processes).

    Photo: UIC College of Education

Although our organizations each focus on one or more of these areas, this initiative will allow us to leverage our distributed expertise and resources to foster youth composing with an explicit focus on local issues, civic engagement, and action. A key feature of this collaboration is engaging with young people as we work to create an initiative that will be piloted in the months after the completion of the planning grant period. We will do this by hosting up to 4 focus groups with young people (20 total youth) to foreground youth voice in this process. This initiative could take different forms; one possibility could be a youth
summer camp highlighting digital production related to local issues. Another example could be a partnership with a CPS school to develop a school-based initiative. Through a series of planning meetings and youth focus groups, our partners will establish goals, outcomes, a timeline, and concrete plans to develop and implement a pilot initiative.

This proposed initiative cultivates writing and digital composing for community-oriented civic action. While youth-oriented digital media production opportunities are accessible in out-of-school spaces across Chicago (e.g., YouMedia), they are less common in classrooms. This initiative seeks to foster school-Hive and school-connected learning opportunities. While our pilot is youth-focused, we see future opportunities to engage with educators, broadening the project’s potential long-term impact.

Currently, when youth are encouraged to pursue interest-driven digital media production (e.g., CCOL playlists focus on script-writing, music- and podcast-making), the goal is not necessarily civic engagement or social action. Within today’s political climate exacerbating marginalization of the most vulnerable in our city, it is more important than ever to support youth in sharing their voices and orienting their developing writing and production skills to effect change in the world.

Lead Organization:
UIC College of Education

Partner Organizations:

Project Goal:
In collaboration with youth, we will develop a pilot that is ready to be tested with a small number of participants in spring 2018. This initiative will engage youth in composing and digital media production for civic engagement, and strengthen school-Hive connections.

Project Tags:
2017 Round 2 RFP