Despite the increased popularity of service and civic engagement in discourse and action, the concepts have traditionally not been adequately tied to diminishing the effects of poverty. While the service field has involved many young people, it has not sufficiently increased opportunities for low income young people and youth of color. The basic act of engagement is important in itself. Involvement in service brings extraordinary learning to participants; and can improve school performance, sharpen skills, and increase employment opportunities. However, the potential of the service field to expand opportunities and solve critical social challenges has not been fully tapped, nor has the ability of service to transition young people out of poverty.
Under the auspices of PACE, three major foundations, The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the New World Foundation, found a common interest in wanting to more thoroughly understand how service and civic engagement can strengthen pathways into and through higher education and meaningful careers for young people from low-income families and communities of color. With the support of these three institutions, PACE has commissioned this report by Marga Incorporated to assess and analyze the state of the field and inform the future of service. Civic Pathways Out of Poverty and Into Opportunity is this report’s proposed reframing of the potential value of service and civic engagement to society.