Updated January 2018
Civic Engagement Overview
Small, but positive, gains in municipal voter turnout are encouraging against one of the most difficult-to-shift numbers in a community. In fact, we are on track to achieve our 2020 goal, growing our turnout, again, in 2017. In fact, the number of registered voters increased by 20% in two years – from 821,615 in 2015 to 1,026,817 in 2017. The total number of ballots cast in 2017 was 116,222, a 19% increase over the 97,697 cast in 2015. Having diversity of elected officials, usually called "descriptive representation," happens when the race, gender, ethnicity, etc. of elected officials reflect the constituent base that it represents. Achieving this balance has been cited in research as an important characteristic for increasing the likelihood that the diverse array of interests of the constituents throughout the city is considered in decision making. This indicator, while doing better than in 2012, the first time it was collected, has remained relatively flat. A need to double-down our efforts can be found in individual engagement. Our volunteer rates, measured by a three-year moving average, is making slight progress. And, although our community has experienced some significant recent successes in philanthropic giving, progress on this indicator has remained relatively flat over the past several years and is doing worse than 2011.
Why is this important?
Civic Engagement is the foundation necessary for our community to turn the bold SA2020 vision into a reality. It requires an active community who engages in real outcomes by voting, giving, volunteering, and leading. Additionally, a city where residents are actively engaged and have a sense of belonging helps build stronger social connections. Civic Engagement has the potential to impact every other Cause Area. Through volunteerism, voting, community leadership, and philanthropic giving, an individual has an opportunity to help families, education, city infrastructure, arts, sustainability, transportation, and health outcomes. Plus, we have an opportunity to cultivate our future leaders. In fact, youth who participate in community service are more likely to vote and volunteer later in life (American Research Journal, 2010).
Since day one when founder Harmon Dobson opened the first restaurant in Corpus Christi in 1950, family-owned Whataburger has been investing in the communities it calls home. Recently, Whataburger has given back to the San Antonio area by: helping fund South San High School's Upward Bound program, supporting the San Antonio Food Bank during its annual SA Goes Orange month, and providing counseling and wellness services to Sutherland Springs community members following the shooting tragedy.