National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families

Assessing the Civic Attitudes and Participation of Urban Elementary Students

Weiss, C.,
Baker-Smith, E. C.
Year Published: 2009
Journal Article
National Association of Extension 4-H Agents
Journal of Youth Development, Bridging Research and Practice, 4(2); 64-82: Summer 2009; Article 090402FA005
Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy Columbia University

These authors describe an evaluation of the Common Cents' Penny Harvest program, a service-learning program based in New York City public elementary schools. Penny Harvest is designed to promote positive social and civic values among youth. By teaching students to recycle their community's pennies and use them to make a difference, the program aims to develop a new generation of active citizens committed to social justice, tolerance, and democracy. In this study, the authors examined the social, civic, and academic engagement of students in New York City public schools (grades 3-5) participating in Penny Harvest. They found that these students were highly involved in service projects both in-school and outside of school. As expected, involvement in service projects was correlated with good behavior, helping others, and being oriented towards others in both the fall and the spring semesters. Correlations with engagement were also evident, although less consistent. Being a good student was the only variable studied that was not correlated with service involvement.

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