Barred windows, crumbling buildings and no safe green space for children to play – this is the gritty picture Dr. Mike Stout paints of a rough neighborhood in North Philadelphia in the 1990s. He learned early that where you were born influences what resources are available to you.
This is the idea behind social capital. Now, as the director for the Center for Community Engagement, he’s on a mission to level the playing field.
One of his projects, the Civic Health Index, assesses levels of participation in public forums, volunteer opportunities, neighborhood collaboration, voter registration, voter turnout and involvement in non-electoral political activities.
In 2010, he and several collaborators also initiated the Ozarks Regional Social Capital Study to examine social capital and citizen participation in southwest Missouri.
Through each of his studies, he’s hoping to build a more engaged community and a re-democratized society.