Secretary of State
Secretary of State Grimes Releases Kentucky's First Report on Civic Health
Today, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes released the 2011 Kentucky Civic Health Index, a report that measures Kentucky’s overall civic health. The Institute for Citizenship and Social Responsibility at Western Kentucky University, in partnership with the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) and with support from the Secretary of State’s office, the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville, and Kentucky Advocates for Civic Education, prepared the report based on U.S. Census Current Population Survey data
The report examines various aspects of public participation, including voter turnout, political involvement, volunteerism, group membership, and community and family relationships, comparing performance among demographic groups and to other states. It is the first report of its kind in Kentucky. Overall, the report shows civic engagement in Kentucky is generally waning. Specific noteworthy findings include:
• Kentucky’s voter registration and voter turnout are above the national average, at 66.9% and 46.8%, respectively.
• Kentuckians rank 3rd in the nation in terms of frequently eating dinner with family.
• Kentuckians’ rates of volunteerism and charitable contributions have declined and are below the national average.
• Kentucky ranks last among states for group membership, with only 25.9% of citizens reporting belonging to a group.
“The Kentucky Civic Health Index provides an excellent platform to not only understand the ways that Kentuckians are engaged, but to develop sustainable civic strategies that will ensure all residents are actively involved in shaping the communities in which they want to live,” said NCoC Board Member Phil Duncan of the report’s findings.
Secretary Grimes, the Commonwealth’s chief advocate for civic engagement and literacy, said that “the report gives us a starting point and a yardstick against which we can measure our progress. This information gives us a great opportunity to shape where we, as a state, are going,” she continued.
Former Secretaries of State Trey Grayson, Bob Babbage, John Y. Brown and Elaine Walker have all expressed support for the report. Brown, noting that “what you can’t measure, you can’t manage,” said the report will help improve the value of our representative democracy. Walker encouraged other organizations to join the Secretary of State’s office to take advantage of this “unique opportunity to foster greater civic engagement and civic responsibility.” She hoped the report would inspire Kentuckians to “take pride and ownership in their communities and come together to improve them.”
Secretary Grimes said that “the trend of declining civic engagement stops now. Starting today, we will work towards a more enthusiastic and informed electorate in Kentucky.” The report shows, she said, that “we must think outside the box, engaging in new partnerships and implementing fresh strategies, to connect all Kentuckians and bridge the gaps left by previous efforts.”
Secretary Grimes announced that her office will continue working with past partners but will reach out to groups and communities that may not have participated in formulating past initiatives. “This is our Commonwealth and our future, and it is up to us to ensure that future is bright,” said Grimes.
A copy of the report is available on the Secretary of State’s website at www.sos.ky.gov/2011CHI.
About the National Conference on Citizenship:
At the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC), we believe everyone has the power to make a difference in how their community and country thrive. We are a dynamic, non-partisan nonprofit working at the forefront of our nation’s civic life. We continuously explore what shapes today’s citizenry, define the evolving role of the individual in our democracy, and uncover ways to motivate greater participation. Through our events, research, and reports, NCoC expands our nation’s contemporary understanding of what it means to be a citizen. We seek new ideas and approaches for creating greater civic health and vitality throughout the United States. More information is available online at www.NCoC.net.
About the Institute for Citizenship and Social Responsibility:
The Institute for Citizenship and Social Responsibility (ICSR) is an organization at Western Kentucky University of administrators, faculty, students, and staff committed to promoting our central mission to develop students’ abilities to think critically, serve generously, and act responsibly. ICSR programs encourage careful reflection on civic values and critical analysis of contemporary social, economic, and political problems. The goal is to work towards developing the capacities and skills of community organizing, citizenship, and civic engagement as a means to achieving social change and the common good. www.wku.edu/icsr/.
About the McConnell Center:
The McConnell Center was established in 1901 by Kentucky’s senior U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell and the University of Louisville. The Center was founded based on McConnell’s belief that “Kentucky’s future depends on inspiring talented, motivated leaders.” In 2005, that mission expanded to include a Civic Education Program at the University of Louisville. Through a variety of professional development conferences, lectures and seminars, this non-profit, non-partisan program is designed to improve Kentuckians’ understanding of their history, assist Kentucky citizens in developing a better understanding of the American Constitution and American history, and encourage open and free discussion of perennial concerns that inform contemporary politics. www.louisville.edu/mcconnellcenter.
About Kentucky Advocates for Civic Education:
Established in September 2010, Kentucky Advocates for Civic Education (KACE) is a consortium of organizations and agencies dedicated to advancing civic education. KACE is an outgrowth of the 2004 Civic Literacy Initiative of Kentucky (CLIK) and is designed to maintain an on-going promotion and coordination of civic education advocacy and information. The ultimate goal of KACE is an informed Kentucky citizenry, effectively engaged in the democratic process.