September 27, 2022 – The Rhode Island Council for the Humanities has published the 2022 Rhode Island Civic Health Index. This report serves as the state’s first-ever Civic Health Index, an initiative led by the Humanities Council in partnership with the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) and the Rhode Island Department of State with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities through the “A More Perfect Union” initiative and from the Rhode Island Foundation.
This 2022 Rhode Island Civic Health Index draws upon data-driven indicators and information about diverse connections to civic life to join the 30 other states that have examined their own civic well-being. This report provides a baseline to help communities, leaders, and policy makers understand what challenges and opportunities Rhode Islanders share.
The Index includes an introduction to Rhode Island; regional and national context for the state’s civic health; and in-depth discussions of five areas of civic health in Rhode Island: Community Well-Being, Social Connection, Public Participation, Collective Understanding, and Engagement with Government. The Index was developed using existing data sources from the US Census, the Rhode Island Department of State, and the Rhode Island Life Index, as well as new data from the 2022 RI Civic Health Index Survey, which was created and distributed by the Humanities Council in collaboration with 10 Community Partners.
“The first-ever Rhode Island Civic Health Index paints a comprehensive picture of civic life in the state compared to the rest of the nation,” said Jeff Coates, Research and Evaluation Director at the National Conference on Citizenship, “and Rhode Islanders have shown they vote, donate, and attend public meetings at very high rates.”
Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea noted, “The health of our democracy is measured by our collective civic engagement. Historically, we have relied on anecdotes as guidance for public policy, and voting has been our only measure of civic health. But an active civic life is much more than casting a ballot—it also includes things like attending public meetings or volunteering in one’s community. I am proud to be a partner with the RI Council for the Humanities in democratizing our state’s data so that we can measure and improve civic engagement and civic life in Rhode Island.”
Elizabeth Francis, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, commented, “The Civic Health Index validates the many ways that Rhode Islanders feel connected to and involved in their communities. Our hope is that the Index will further inspire Rhode Islanders to participate to a greater degree in civic life and raise up the people and organizations that contribute so much to the common good. Knowing the current status of Rhode Island’s civic health also will allow us to address the barriers and difficulties that many Rhode Islanders face.”
From October 2022 to April 2023, RI Civic Health Community Partners will host engagement activities in their communities. The Humanities Council will host a culminating opportunity for reflection and conversation in Spring 2023. Watch the Council’s website for more details.
The RI Civic Health Index is available for free digital download on the Humanities Council website: https://rihumanities.org/program/ri-civic-health-index/ and the NCoC website: https://ncoc.org/. Limited print copies are available from the Humanities Council upon request. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request a print copy.