One of three cardinal questions that guided PACE’s strategic focus and collective orientation in the field of philanthropy from 2017-2019 was this one:
How can investments in civic engagement increase health and safety outcomes for communities?
Consistent with PACE’s core belief — that America will be healthier, more successful, resilient and productive if democracy is strong and the office of citizen is treated as central to how it functions — we launched an exploration with the aim to demonstrate that civic engagement, while a worthy end in itself, is also a critical means to advance outcomes that matter to all Americans.
The PACE Health & Safety Working Group
Recognizing that knowledge at the complex intersection of civic engagement, health, and safety is widely held and diffuse, PACE recruited a diverse set of foundations and funders, nonprofit organizations, researchers, and thought leaders to explore the topic. The working group is made possible with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Rita Allen Foundation, and has been active since September 2017. After careful consideration, members chose to focus their efforts on youth civic engagement and its implications for health and safety outcomes. In early 2019, the group released two reports:
• A literature review, summarizing available evidence on the relationship of youth civic engagement and health and safety outcomes, and identifying gaps to help make the case that youth civic engagement yields health and safety benefits not just for individual participants, but for their communities.
• A report, summarizing findings from our own structured interviews and analysis to explore the hypothesis that efforts among nonprofits and funders at the intersection of youth civic engagement, community health, health equity, and community safety share many core values and features that are implicit and understood locally, but not always captured and translated for broader application. The report aims to articulate core principles shared among promising and successful programs in order to advance knowledge and inspire action among others considering civic engagement as a strategy to improve community health, safety, and equity.
Through the Health & Safety Working Group, we are charting new territory, both on these topics and as a model of learning and collaboration for PACE. We seek to build a group in which divergent views are welcome, while also advancing a shared purpose greater than the sum of its parts. We want to draw out the creative ideas of working group members even as PACE exerts leadership to maintain focus and urgency.
To learn more about PACE’s Health & Safety Working Group, please contact PACE Fellow, Marian Mulkey: marian(at)PACEfunders.org.