WICHITA, KAN. – From voting in local elections to volunteerism and participation in public meetings, a new report examines the strength of civic engagement and civic health in Kansas.
The Kansas Civic Health Index, a report developed in partnership between the Kansas Health Foundation (KHF) and the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC), demonstrates the importance of civic engagement to a community or state. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS), this report examines civic health in Kansas with a specific focus on the civic engagement of Kansans with different levels of income, education, and racial/ethnic backgrounds.
“In recent years we’ve been paying close attention to the widening gaps in health outcomes across different populations in Kansas, as we believe these disparities greatly impact the overall health of our state,” said Steve Coen, president and CEO of the Kansas Health Foundation. “This report, and our partnership with NCoC, allowed us to investigate any common links between disparities in health outcomes and civic engagement.”
Key findings from this analysis of the Current Population Survey include:
“The Kansas Health Foundation’s work is critical to the future of Kansas. By releasing this report they are starting a conversation that can increase citizen engagement levels and improve public health in the state,” said Sally Prouty, Interim CEO of the National Conference on Citizenship. “On many indicators, Kansas’ civic and political engagement ranks above average compared to other states. However, with leadership from KHF, they have the civic foundation to improve and become national civic engagement leaders.”
In its efforts to focus more intentionally on health disparities, KHF is also focusing work through an emphasis on fostering civic engagement to ensure more Kansans become involved in efforts to strengthen communities and improve health in the state.
“As a state we need to work to reduce health disparities related to social and economic factors,” said Jeff Willett, KHF Vice President for Programs and Policy. “At KHF, we’ve long supported work in the civic health sphere, such as leadership development, but now we’re also working to take action in areas like low voter participation.”
This action begins with the awarding of mini-grants to five organizations in Kansas who will focus on increasing voter participation in upcoming elections for individuals in parts of the state with high rates of poverty, poor health outcomes and high rates of uninsured residents. Complete details of the grant amounts and recipients are available in the accompanying news release.
“With this data showing disparities in civic health mirror important health disparities in Kansas, we believe this is an opportunity to fund innovative organizations to do this important work,” Willett said.
The full Kansas Civic Health Index, as well as supporting documents and additional information, is available at www.kansashealth.org/kchi.
The National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) is a congressionally chartered organization dedicated to strengthening civic life in America. We pursue our mission through a nationwide network of partners involved in a cutting-edge civic health initiative and our cross-sector conferences. At the core of our joint efforts is the belief that every person has the ability to help their community and country thrive.
The Kansas Health Foundation (KHF) is a nonprofit organization based in Wichita but statewide in its focus. At KHF, all our work centers on our mission: to improve the health of all Kansans. As part of a new strategic framework, developed by our staff and board of directors, KHF also strives to accomplish three primary purposes: empower Kansas to lead the nation in health; eliminate the inequities that create health disparities; and, for KHF to become THE model for philanthropic impact.
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