Atlanta, GA – Today, the Atlanta Community Foundation and the National Conference on Citizenship released the 2015 Atlanta Carolina Civic Health Index. The report reveals how residents in Atlanta engage in important civic activities such as voting, volunteering, and interacting with neighbors. This type of engagement is critical because it is linked to the economic and personal health of individuals and the strength of our democracy.
This report follows a similar 2012 report. Atlantans continued to perform well on indicators related to electoral participation and more formal civic engagement. However, several of Atlanta’s civic health indicators decreased, especially those related to social connectedness such as eating household dinners and talking with frequently with friends and family.
Compared to the America’s 50 largest metropolitan areas, Atlanta ranked among the highest among political involvement indicators such as voting in the 2012 Presidential election (21st), attending a public meeting (16th), and working with neighbors to fix or improve something in a community (8th). However, the metropolitan area ranked towards the bottom among social cohesion indicators such as exchanging favors with neighbors frequently (28th), eating dinner with a household member frequently (44th), and hearing from friends of family frequently (49th).
“Improving civic life starts with groups like the Community Foundation, but requires buy-in from individuals and organizations across the city,” said Ilir Zherka, executive director of the National Conference on Citizenship. “I urge all Atlantans to take the Community Foundations’ recommendations to heart. By getting more engaged in your homes, neighborhoods, and communities it is possible to make Atlanta an even more livable and prosperous city.”
The report data was obtained primarily from the 2012 and 2013 US Census Bureau Current Population Surveys on Voting, Volunteering and Civic Engagement. The following are additional key findings from the report:
-Atlanta ranks 34th (25%) for volunteering and 20th (54%) for charitable giving of $25 or more.
The metropolitan area ranks 13th (22.4%) in the nation for church, synagogue, or mosque participation (unrelated to attending a religious service).
-57% of Atlantans report sometimes or often voting in local elections
-When asked the main reason for not voting, 22% reveal that they are too busy or have conflicting work or school schedules.
-Higher levels of educational attainment and income lead to higher levels of almost every measure of civic health.
The report also includes suggestions for improving Atlanta’s civic health including: organizing registration drives, supporting a local nonprofit or issue advocacy organization, running for local office, engaging with neighbors, and many other key actions.