Active Engagement and Leadership


Active and Engaged Citizenship (AEC) includes the elements of civic duty (feeling like one should help), civic skills (feeling like one knows how to help), neighborhood social connection, and civic participation (focused on volunteering) (Zaff et. al., 2010).  At this level, individuals have internalized why participating is important, taken initiative to participate on their own, and/or taken on the leadership/organizing responsibilities.

Leadership indicates that an individual has understood a need, is organizing a group and/or actions to meet the need, and is facilitating the participation or volunteering efforts of others.

Organizing is a type of leadership, but it is grounded within a social justice framework.  It focuses heavily on shared leadership, collective action (sometimes called collective agency), and on working towards improvements of social problems that individuals in the group are experiencing themselves rather than exclusively focusing on helping others.

By Urban Institute

Surveys/Assessments

Sources Cited

Ginwright, S. & Cammarota, J. (2002). New terrain in youth development: The promise of a social justice approach. Social Justice, 29(4), 82-95.

Kirshner, B. (2009). “Power in numbers”: Youth organizing as a context for exploring civic identity. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 19(3), 414-440.

Zaff, J., Boyd, M., Li, Y., Lerner, J.V., Lerner, R.M. (2010). Active and engaged citizenship: Multi-group and longitudinal factorial analysis of an integrated construct of civic engagement. Journal of Youth Adolescence, published online May 15, 2010.

Additional Resources

Collective Leadership Works: Preparing Youth & Adults for Community Change: A Toolkit

Lessons in Leadership: How Young People Change Their Communities and Themselves