Debating city issues


Collaborating on ideas for CMS


Using journalism to explore civics and leadership, while making student voices heard



Learning about and weighing in on candidates and issues




Casting a ballot in a mock vote just for students

Educating K-12 students to lead in their schools, communities, businesses, and nation

GenerationNation is Charlotte's champion for K-12 civic literacy and youth civic leadership. Smart, fun activities tied to Common Core and other goals connect K-12 education with hands-on experiences to build civic literacy and leadership from an early age.

Launched in 1992 by former Charlotte Observer publisher Rolfe Neill and other civic leaders, GenerationNation – until December 2011, named Kids Voting Mecklenburg – was initially an annual mock voting event. Now, GenerationNation is a nonprofit (501c3) organization with a new programming model to educate students as citizens and leaders 365 days a year.

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Why does it matter?

Today's students will one day become the leaders of our schools, communities, businesses, and nation.  What and how they learn now matters.

Unfortunately, due to education trends and learning opportunity gaps, students - especially those who are disadvantaged - lack opportunities for civic education and to develop critical leadership skills. Across all demographics, students know least about local and state government, civic issues, and how businesses and public policy intersect.

Through GenerationNation, students prepare for college, career and civic life.

  • Grow as confident citizens who can read and analyze information, think critically, communicate, collaborate, lead, solve problems, and make decisions.
  • Build civic literacy, understanding how their governments and communities work.
  • Gain essential knowledge for academic success - including graduation requirements Civics & Economics and US History.
  • Develop lifelong civic leadership.

Giving Charlotte's students an advantage

GenerationNation builds civic literacy and leadership from an early age through programs including K-12 civic education, Youth Leadership Alliance, Youth CLT, Kids Voting, Youth Civics and Youth Voice.

  • Educates K-12 students about government, civics and leadership. Programs impact over 5,000 classrooms through resources tied to Common Core and NC essential standards to support achievement in reading, writing and social studies.
  • Directly engages over 100,000 Charlotte-area students in smart, fun hands-on experiences and annual events Candidate Forum for Youth, Youth Leadership Summit and the Kids Voting mock election.
  • Builds tomorrow's civic leaders through programs connecting hundreds of teens with government, leadership and 21st century skill development. Programs include Youth Leadership Alliance, Youth CLT and Youth Voice/Youth Press Corps.

How can you and your organization help to give students the advantage of civic literacy?

We’re educating students and building leaders – and there’s still work to be done. Your financial and volunteer investment provides current programs, builds capacity and fuels growth to meet the needs of schools, students and the Charlotte area.

  • Connect your school or organization.
  • Volunteer. Donate your time to help us to educate students and build young civic leaders, join a committee or serve on the Board. Over 500 volunteers contribute 5,000 hours annually.
  • Contribute critical financial or in-kind resources. GenerationNation is a nonprofit (501c3) organization funded through grants, corporate contributions, sponsorships, individual gifts, and in-kind donations. Over 90% of resources support programming. GenerationNation is not funded by a state or national organization, by the United Way, or by the Arts and Science Council.




Educating and engaging K-12 students to lead.

Smart, fun programs tied to Common Core and other educational goals connect classroom learning with hands-on experiences to help students to build civic literacy and leadership from an early age.