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Civic Engagement Through the Voices of Latino/a Youth: Exploring Definitions, Supports and Barriers

We aim to expand understanding of how Latino/a adolescents define civic engagement, understand how Latino/a adolescents see their own civic engagement both supported and hindered, and identify strategies that young people believe will help promote civic engagement among themselves and their peers.

This study aims to obtain Latino/a youth voices on the definitions, barriers and supports of civic engagement. The study is situated in two major U.S. cities: Houston and Denver. Partnerships with three community organizations focused on positive youth development and civic engagement are collaborating on the project. This qualitative study engages youth as experts in their own lives and as partners in data analysis, along with focus groups with a larger number of youth who identity as Latinx who may or may not be civically engaged.

We pose five questions:

  • How do Latino/a adolescents define civic engagement?
  • What do they describe as facilitators (supports and motivators) of their civic engagement?
  • What do they describe as hindrances to their civic engagement?
  • In what ways are perceptions of these facilitators and hindrances similar or different between “high” and “low” engaged Latino/a adolescents?
  • What do Latino/a youth suggest as pathways for encouraging civic engagement among youth?