Ohio's civic health topic of workshop at the Statehouse

Findings from the recently-released 2016 Ohio Civic Health Index (OCHI) Report will be discussed during a workshop in the atrium of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thurs., Nov. 17.

The periodic OCHI Report is the product of an ongoing partnership between the National Conference on Citizenship, a Washington, D.C.-based organization chartered by Congress in 1953, and Miami University Regionals.

The report looks at data on six distinct dimensions of civic health – volunteerism, charitable giving, group participation, voting behavior, non-voting political action and informal social consequences – to determine the extent to which Ohioans engage with civic affairs, with their communities, and with one another.

Now in its sixth iteration, the report provides Ohioans with an assessment of the degree to which Buckeye State residents forge bonds with their fellow citizens, interact with their local communities, and participate meaningfully in political and civic affairs. Additionally, it provides
educators, policymakers, and community leaders with a multi-faceted look at the strength of our communities and the overall vitality of our democracy.

Miami University Regionals' Center for Civic Engagement continues to lead the university's efforts in planning, preparing, and disseminating the Ohio Civic Health Index Report.

"We view our participation in this project as a key part of our mission to engage actively in Ohio's communities, meet Ohioans' educational needs, and work collaboratively with others to identify and address community problems," said Sarah Woiteshek, director of the Center for Civic Engagement.

"The report highlights the current outlook of civic behaviors and participation in our beloved state of Ohio, and serves as a call-to-action for our local communities," Woiteshek said.

"A divisive election has concluded, and the people have spoken. Now is the time to engage your citizenship beyond voting. I urge you to join on Thursday alongside your fellow Ohioans to help create the course you want for your community and civic leadership," she said.

The current report concludes that, in any given year, roughly seven out of 10 Ohioans do not engage in any organized volunteer work at all. Those Ohioans who do volunteer now spend considerably less time on that task than they used to. Participation in volunteerism is now the lowest among Ohio's youngest adults. 

The report concludes that while Ohioans are likely to maintain close ties with friends and family, they often lack strong ties to their neighbors and to broader community-based networks:

  • only 4 in 10 (40.6%) Ohioans talk frequently with their neighbors, placing the state slightly below the national average of 41.4%; 

  • only 1 in 8 (13.1%) exchange favors with their neighbors at least once per week, ranking the state 21st in the nation; 

  • only 1 in 15 (6.5%) Ohioans work with their neighbors to x or improve something in their communities, ranking the state 41st in the nation; and
  • fewer than 6 in 10 (57.8%) have trust in all or most of the people in their local neighbor- hoods.

Woiteshek will be facilitating workshop sessions on Thursday along with student leaders and co-authors of the report. They will be available to talk to reporters during and after the event.