Earlier this week, Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) joined Chelsea Clinton of the Clinton Foundation and other bipartisan leaders to discuss the importance of educating today’s youth about civics to preserve and strengthen our country’s democracy.

Nonprofit youth-serving organizations like Girl Scouts play a crucial role in offering civics education to young people, galvanizing their energy and enthusiasm, and channeling their educational efforts into engagement outcomes. Civics engagement starts with our nation’s young people; evidence shows that engagement in adolescence increases the likelihood of engagement in adulthood.

Studies also show that in the long term, youth who are civically engaged have higher educational attainment, income levels, and satisfaction with their lives as adults. After-school and out-of-school programs like Girl Scouts are necessary for creating an informed public that has knowledge of democratic institutions and processes, as well as opportunities to apply that knowledge.

According to the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, in 2018, only 32 percent of Americans could name all three branches of government, while 33 percent couldn’t name any branches of government. A staggering 37 percent couldn’t name any rights guaranteed under the First Amendment.

“Understanding how our government works empowers individuals to be active participants and to stand up for issues they care about in their local communities, in their states, and nationally,” said Sylvia Acevedo, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA. “Organizations like Girl Scouts provide students with hands-on opportunities that take lessons from the classroom into the real world, and we’re excited to be preparing the next generation of girls to be engaged citizens. We are excited to announce that in 2020 Girl Scouts will release newly developed civics education programming for girls in grades K–12 to deepen their understanding of government.”

The Girl Scouts and Clinton Foundation have come together because of a shared interest in fostering civic engagement and a commitment to empowering young people through educational programming in order to develop a clear understanding of how our government works.

“Helping inspire and support civic engagement and service is a core tenet of what drives the work of the Clinton Foundation,” said Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation. “I’m proud that the Clinton Foundation and Girl Scouts are partnering to bring an opportunity for girls to learn about civics and democratic processes. We believe that you’re never too young to participate civically and look forward to even more girls being engaged, active participants in their communities.”

A cornerstone of the Girl Scout experience for girls, civics education is urgently needed to ensure that future generations not only feel empowered to make positive change in their communities, but also understand how their government works to create this change.

“For students to understand the importance civics, they need to learn the role these institutions play in their community and our country,” said GSUSA National Board President Kathy Hannan. “Only then will students feel like they are a part of our democracy and hold responsibility for our country and its future. At Girl Scouts, we believe out-of-school civics programs prepare the next generation to be involved citizens with a deeper understanding of their government — both now and for the rest of their lives.”

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