We celebrated all 2019 Civvys Awards finalists and winners at the National Conference on Citizenship in late October. Civvys winners represent exemplar cases of civic-oriented work that elevate democracy at every level of American life — through collaboration. By working together across divides, geographies, industries, circumstances— these organizations provide a blueprint for the rest of the nation as they problem-solve how to make our differences work for us, not against us.
Read on for a brief interview with our 2019 Youth category winner, Generation Nation, and to learn more about their work and hopes for the future.
Generation Nation alum Joel Odom accepts the 2019 Civvys award.
This year’s Youth award winner is Generation Nation, which brings together youth, local governments, and schools to develop young civic leaders and give them "a seat at the table". Through their partnerships and initiatives, like “Kids Voting,” nearly 1 million Charlotte-Mecklenburg students have built and applied civic knowledge since 1992. Students regularly interact with public officials, experience the election process, meet and collaborate with youth from other schools and diverse backgrounds, and more. One of our judges was so moved by this comprehensive immersion in civic life and across diverse constituencies and governmental entities, that he wrote, “this project should exist everywhere!”
Our Q&A with Generation Nation:
What are your hopes - and plans - for the upcoming year?
We hope that 2020 will be a big opportunity to educate and engage young people (and the adults around them). In addition to civic learning related to Election 2020, our ongoing youth civic leadership programming, and other efforts, our city (Charlotte) will host the Republican National Convention. GenerationNation led K-12 programming when the 2012 Democratic National Convention was held here. We’re looking forward to collaborating with youth, schools, officials, media, and organizations on civic learning initiatives, news literacy, dialogue, and more. As a nonprofit organization, we will also be working hard to raise funds to build capacity and expand our impact.
Why is collaboration important today?
Young people learn by example. They need to see how, and why, collaboration works. When we work together, we are stronger.
What do you wish people who have lost hope knew?
A new generation of civic leaders is getting ready to lead. Students are bridge builders who are already working - and collaborating - to break down barriers and solve civic challenges. Young people readily make connections between people and concepts. They embrace diversity, equity, and innovation. They are the future of our democracy.
What does winning a Civvys award mean to you?
It is a huge honor! Due to current events and education trends focusing on STEM education and other areas, not everyone is aware of the urgent and critical need for K-12 civic leadership education, The Civvys awards not only allow GenerationNation to be recognized for our impact, it provides an opportunity to lift up, strengthen, and convene the body of organizations working for civic good.