Selling Civic Engagement: A unique role for the private sector?

Published for Community Engagement Learning Exchange on May 16, 2019.

I am glad to summarize and link to a story by Dr. Rebecca Winthrop. She is a senior fellow and director of the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution.

We see civic engagement as something up to citizens, civic groups, schools, advocacy organizations and others in the public sector. What about the private sector?

Winthrop asks,While civil society and government have been the actors most commonly addressing  the decline in faith and participation in our democracy, is there also a constructive role for the private sector to play?”

She notes that many companies connect to civic engagement through directing corporate social responsibility dollars to civically-minded activities and by supporting employee volunteerism.

Her main ideas for private sector support of civic engagement are:

  1. Amplifying the existing good work of nonprofits, media companies can report on the issues that nonprofits are trying to address, including highlighting stories from programs on the ground.
  2. Leveraging entertainment to advance behavior change. She writes, “ Entertainment companies from across all mediums have a role to play in championing democracy in their programming.”

I think it is good to consider different kinds of private sector support for civic engagement. Thinking about private sector connections to community engagement broadens the possibilities on community action and change.

Here is her full article. 

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