A report submitted today to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education shows that, while Oklahoma outperforms national trends for family and community building, some forms of civic involvement, such as voter turnout, may be lacking.
The Oklahoma Civic Health Index (OK CHI) measures the civic habits of the state's citizens across a wide range of indicators in an effort to strengthen citizen participation in our communities, state and nation.
The OK CHI is a partnership among Oklahoma Campus Compact (OkCC), the University of Central Oklahoma and the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC). Currently NCoC partners with 13 states and four large cities to produce individual Civic Health Index reports.
“It is important for the citizens of our state to understand their civic duties and responsibilities. Practicing good stewardship, participating in the election process and working together to make our communities better continues to be the mark of a good citizenry,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “This report provides valuable insight on where we excel as a state and brings into focus those areas where we can continue to improve. Together, we can all make a meaningful contribution to Oklahoma’s civic health.”
The OK CHI is based primarily on research conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2008-09. Five key indicators are examined in national context.
- Oklahomans invest in family connections and private sociability. In connecting with others, 92.3 percent of Oklahomans report they eat dinner with the family at least a few times per week, compared to 89.1 percent nationally.
- In Oklahoma, social actions, such as working with neighbors to solve community issues, help strengthen communities. Oklahomans value the relationship with their neighbors. These kinds of social actions help strengthen communities across the state. Oklahoma ranks 20th nationwide in the number of people age 18 and older who exchange favors with neighbors a few times a week.
- Civic responsibility is an important tool in a democracy. Oklahoma ranks 31st in the rate of people 18 and older who talk about politics with friends and family at least a few times a week.
- Oklahomans with more education tend to be more civically engaged. Education makes a big difference in how Oklahomans participate in politics. Of college graduates 25 years of age and older, 53.4 percent were likely to have performed any non-electoral acts, but only 18.9 percent of those with only a high school degree did so. Oklahoma ranks 32nd in the nation in membership in religious, neighborhood, school or sports groups. Oklahoma surpasses the national average (11.2 percent versus 10.1 percent) in the number of people who take a leadership role in an organization by serving as an officer or on a committee.
- Oklahomans continue to increase their commitment to volunteering and service. In 2009, Oklahoma ranked 19th in the nation for volunteering by residents ages 16 and older. An estimated average of 824,000 Oklahoma residents volunteered from 2007-09.
“As a state, Oklahoma has faced many great challenges, but one of our greatest assets is the civic compassion of our residents,” said Kristen Cambell, Norman native and director of programs and new media at NCoC in Washington, D.C. “It’s great to see the Oklahoma Civic Health Index reflect what our state has long known to be true — the importance of helping each other and giving back to our communities. Oklahoma has a strong foundation on which to continue building the critical tenants of robust civic participation, social connectedness and economic vitality.”
The research team included Janelle Grellner, Jan Hardt, Mickey Hepner, Patricia Loughlin and Emily Griffin Overocker, UCO; Amanda Biles, Danielle Hernandez, Mengzhu Ji, Ashley Schubert and Brandi Streigel, UCO civic scholars; and Debbie Terlip, OSRHE/OkCC.
Campus Compact is a coalition of colleges and universities that develops college students’ awareness and skills in civic responsibility through service learning, community service and civic engagement. Thirty-five states have Campus Compact offices. OkCC was formed in 2000 and currently has 36 participating public and private colleges and universities.
Founded in 1946 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1953, the NCoC is a leader in strengthening our nation's civic health. In partnership with more than 250 organizations, NCoC tracks, measures and promotes civic participation. Through this work, NCoC helps define modern citizenship in America. More information can be found at NCoC.net.