The Impact of Democracy Prep Public Schools on Civic Participation

Publisher: Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research
Apr 19, 2018
Authors
Brian Gill, Charles Tilley, Emilyn Whitesell, Mariel Finucane, Liz Potamites, and Sean Corcoran

Key Findings:

  • We find a 98 percent probability that enrolling in Democracy Prep produced a positive impact on voter registration, and a 98 percent probability that enrolling produced a positive impact on voting in the 2016 election.
  • Democracy Prep increases the voter registration rates of its students by about 16 percentage points and increases the voting rates of its students by about 12 percentage points.
Democracy Prep is a charter school network that seeks to prepare students for effective citizenship. The clearest indicators of Democracy Prep’s success in promoting civic engagement are the registration and voting rates of its students after they become adults. Many students who were offered admission to Democracy Prep’s middle and high-school grades in its early years of operation were old enough to register and vote in time for the 2016 election. In this study, we match records from Democracy Prep’s admissions lotteries to a national database of registration and voting. Using the admissions lotteries to conduct a randomized experimental analysis, we find that Democracy Prep produces substantial positive effects on voter registration and election participation.