Belonging and Civic Muscle

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Healthy, fulfilling relationships and strong social supports provide a foundation for individuals and families to thrive. These relationships and supports build social ties, trust, and cooperation in communities and foster connections that bring people together and shape a common vision.   

Governments must work with community members to strengthen communities’ established and self-determined assets, means of connection, and values. Communities with an inclusive sense of belonging and strong civic muscle may be better able to:

  • Design their own pathways to resilience   
  • Gather assets to respond effectively and equitably in a crisis   
  • Persistently expand vital conditions while alleviating urgent needs   
  • Use their power to ensure mutual accountability    

By building on existing efforts that prioritize community, family, and parent leadership — as well as self-defined belonging and assets — federal agencies can address the impact of structural racism and systemic social and health inequities, remove policy and program barriers, and provide equal access to opportunities and benefits.  

Belonging and Civic Muscle includes:  

  • Civic agency  
  • Civic association  
  • Collective efficacy  
  • Equitable access to information  
  • Opportunities for civic engagement  
  • Vibrant arts, culture, and spiritual life  
  • Freedom from stigma, discrimination, and oppression  
  • Social support  
  • Support for civil rights and human rights 

Key Statistics

  • Nearly 1 in 4 Americans age 65 years and older who live in the community are socially isolated.  
  • 4.6 million youth are considered “disconnected” because they are not in school or working. 
  • Just over half of people who were registered and eligible to participate reported voting in the November 2018 elections.