- Knight Projects
- Research / Polling
A Tale of Two Cities: Civic Engagement in Miami and Minneapolis
This is an event entry with a date
Mon, 01/24/2011 - 10:30am
There will be a panel discussion on what can be done to improve the civic health of Miami on Monday, January 24th at 10:30 a.m. The panelists include Harry Boyte, Senior Fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, Paula Ellis, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and Michael Weiser, Chair of the National Conference on Citizenship. Bob Graham will moderate the discussion, which will be held at 200 S. Biscayne Blvd. in Miami.
In a time of widespread anxiety among Americans that the nation may be in decline according to a variety of recent studies, the Twin Cities, bucking the trend, shows optimism that people can shape their common future. Those norms are less evident in the Miami area, which appears to be more balkanized and less reliant on citizens to create a common future. Miami shows the need to strengthen civic practices of working across a more balkanized culture. While the two metropolitan areas differ in many ways, including the demographics of their populations, differences in the makeup of their populations do not explain the differences in their civic engagement.
The study, called A Tale of Two Cities: Civic Engagement in Miami and Minneapolis-St. Paul, found that in both communities, people with more education and income engage more in civic affairs. But individuals in Minneapolis-St. Paul who are in the lowest income group are more likely to be civically involved than are people in the wealthiest tier in Miami. Further, an individual with a high school education in Minneapolis-St. Paul is about as likely to be engaged as an individual with a college education in Miami. That means that the somewhat higher levels of income and educational attainment in the Twin Cities cannot explain why that community is so much more civically engaged.
Several findings support the conclusion about the importance of a culture of civic empowerment.
* Drawing on data produced by the Knight Foundation’s three-year Soul of the City study, the report found that levels of trust and satisfaction were much higher in the St. Paul area than in the Miami area; 42% of St. Paul citizens generally trusted the local government, compared with just 24% of Miamians. Thirty-two percent of St. Paul citizens felt the leaders of their community represented their interests, compared with just 18% of Miamians. Satisfaction with police, schools, and parks was much higher in St. Paul than in either of the south Florida cities, and St. Paul citizens were more satisfied with their fellow residents’ sociability and caring for one another.
* While public institutions such as schools don’t perform better in the Twin Cities than they do in South Florida -- the graduation rate in St. Paul high schools (Ramsey County, Minnesota) is 65.6%, and in Minneapolis it is 62.7%: virtually the same as the rate in Miami-Dade County (65.4%) and lower than that in Palm Beach (73.6%) -- Nevertheless, St. Paul residents rate their schools much higher than Miamians do. Twin Cities residents scored much better on two U. S. Census questions about civic knowledge. Education in Minnesota appears to be more “civic.” In other words, the Twin Cities’ schools engage adult citizens in ways that build their satisfaction and trust. Schools collaborate more with other community based educative institutions, and institutions do a better job of teaching specifically civic knowledge.
* IRS data reveal that the infrastructure of not-for-profit institutions, an important resource for civic engagement, is much more extensive and better resourced in Minneapolis-St. Paul than it is in the Miami area. There are almost twice as many active nonprofits per capita in the Twin Cities than in the Miami area, and those in the Twin Cities have accumulated almost five times more financial assets, on a per capita basis.
A Tale of Two Cities: Civic Engagement in Miami and Minneapolis-St. Paul is the result of collaboration among four partners: the National Conference on Citizenship, The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship, and the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship is a partnership between the Lou Frey Institute at the University of Central Florida and the Bob Graham Center at the University of Florida. Assistance was provided by CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement) at Tufts University.
For further Information, email info@miamifoundation@org.
Location: 200 S. Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, FL 33131