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Report · July 2006

Civic Inequalities: Immigrant Volunteerism and Community Organizations in California

Karthick Ramakrishnan and Celia Viramontes

Declining levels of civic participation-or volunteerism-have been a source of concern for some time in California. Even more troubling are the persistent differences in civic participation among the state’s racial, ethnic, and immigrant-generation groups. Relying on focus groups, interviews, and case studies, this report examines immigrant views of volunteerism and investigates the dynamics of community organizations. The authors find that immigrants face numerous barriers to civic participation and that community organizations are themselves confronting new challenges. Local governments can facilitate volunteerism among immigrants, the report suggests, by increasing contact with, and sponsorship of, ethnic and immigrant organizations in their communities.


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