Understanding the Active Citizen Framework – Part 1

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All around the world, Jaycees of different countries and culture are talking about the Active Citizen Framework. If you are not familiar with the concept, this series will walk you through the framework, step-by-step, and show you how to utilize it to make sustainable impacts in your local community. The JCI Mission Statement is “to provide development opportunities that empower young people to create positive change.” The Active Citizens Framework is the roadmap to help members change the world.

Step 1 – Needs Analysis

The Active Citizen Framework starts with a needs analysis.  The following excerpt from JCI helps explain this concept:

The first step in developing projects that create positive change involves analyzing the community and assessing its needs. To make a lasting impact we must critically examine and understand the most pressing problems around us. This means engaging members of the community to ask them what issues they face.

In many cases, this starts with community surveys. The Work Group for Community Health and Development at the University of Kansas provides some detailed information, as well as a step-by-step approach to launching your own needs assessment. This can be found HERE.

Another approach to identifying needs is to hold public forums or listening sessions. Also known as town halls or community open houses, these opportunities can bring together multiple facets of a community including government, business, churches, citizens, and nonprofits. Resources for how to orchestrate a public forum can be found HERE.

Another winning strategy that can be undertaken is to sit with community leaders and influencers in a one-on-one setting to talk through and deliberate what potential issues are.  While in many cases we may believe that we understand the needs of a community, remember that there are always multiple perspectives and agendas to consider.  Listening and fact finding can help us get to the “what” question, but what do we do when we have the facts and data? We need to analyze.

The analysis portion of this process is to “dig deeper” to find the root cause of the issues that have been discovered. JCI says the following about this process:

Continue to ask “why” until you reach the root cause behind the problem. By formulating solutions that address the root causes of problems, you will be ensuring your project leads to sustainable impact and positive change for the community.

The root cause is often hidden from plain sight, but as young leaders and active citizens, it is our duty to identify these causes. You can find some resources on analyzing community problems HERE.

This is the first step in the JCI Active Citizen Framework. Stay tuned for next month’s installment which will discuss Step 2, Formulating Sustainable Solutions.

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