Founded in 2002, SCI’s mission is to strengthen communities by connecting diverse individuals and organizations through civic engagement initiatives. We envision a nation where individuals are strongly connected to their neighbors and play an active role in shaping the destiny of their communities. This increase in ‘social capital’ will result in communities that are safer, healthier and more vital.
Importance of social capital: Many studies have shown social capital, social networks and community engagement to be crucial for positive community outcomes. For instance:
- Health & Wellness: Strong social networks are very important for good health; it has been shown that joining and participating in one group cuts your odds of dying over the next year in half. States with high levels of social capital have lower mortality rates and a better quality of life than states with low levels of social capital ("Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community," Robert Putnam (2000), p. 328). The friend of a friend becoming obese has been show to increase one’s own chances of gaining weight even when one has never met that person ("Connected: The Surprising Power of our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives," Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler (2009)).
- Youth Success: Building up the social capital assets of young people, including relationships with positive adult role models and providing young people with opportunities to contribute, fosters healthy youth development. Harvard Professor Robert Putnam’s research indicates that social capital is the single most important predictor of standardized test scores and graduation rates—greater than race or poverty ("Bowling Alone," p. 296-300).
- Economic Development: Areas with the highest levels of “community attachment” also had the highest local GDP in the Knight Foundation’s “Soul of the Community” study. Communities with high levels of civic health had lower rates of unemployment than comparable communities with lower levels of civic health.