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If thousands of teens spoke up on the issues they cared most about, would you listen? We would, and we will! 

In late 2011, the Case Foundation was proud to join with Nickelodeon to support Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s new survey for teens and by teens on issues ranging from character and education, to citizenship, and civic engagement. The results are now in, and their answers tell a powerful story about the state of America’s youth.

Six out of 10 teens think it is important to serve as youth leaders in their community, and seven out of 10 feel that what they learn in high school will be important later in life.

So what does this mean, exactly? America’s youth are ready to step up and serve others, and they understand the importance of a high school education, and even further, continuing on to college. But for teens to really be a part of the rising generation of active and engaged citizens, we all need to work together to help provide those opportunities. This means government, educators, nonprofits, and corporations must collaborate to continue to find moments and mechanisms to give youth a voice and give them an opportunity to serve.

After all, two-thirds of teens polled believe they would learn more in the classroom if they had the opportunity to see the principles they are taught come to life in their communities — that’s what some of us call service learning. In fact, one of the greatest components of this survey is the fact that youth played a leadership role in every aspect…from focus groups on the survey questions, to actually administering the survey to their peers.

In the last national election cycle, record numbers of Millennials headed to the polls to cast their vote. And although the majority of the teens surveyed aren’t yet eligible to vote, the results show that teens are interested in civic engagement, and not just at the ballot box. The answers reveal that they care deeply about their communities, with a majority of teens stating they believe it’s important to serve as leaders in their communities right now.

Data shows that the one of the biggest reasons people do not serve is because they are not asked. We also know that if we can bridge the gap between episodic engagement opportunities like volunteering and voting with people exploring and executing solutions to community challenges, then we can ignite meaningful, ongoing engagement that strengthens communities. 

Take a look at the full survey here, and you can share your reactions on twitter using the #TeenSpeakUp hashtag, or on our Facebook page. We asked the teens, and they responded. Now it’s up to us to keep the conversation going and to take action together.

For more information on the survey, visit

Check out these videos of our own Stacey Walker, a former BGCA Youth of the Year, interviewing BGCA national spokespeople LeBron James and Ashanti.

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