Springtide embarks on 3-year project to learn what’s engaging Gen Z

 In Religion & Spirituality

Since our inception, Springtide has aimed to offer research and actionable insights to help those who care for young people to care better. One of the main questions we’ve pursued is – how can we best connect with Gen Z? 

In the past three years, we’ve discovered a few answers: 

  • Ensure young people feel like they belong.

Gen Z wants connection, and they thrive in environments where both adults and peers make them feel like they’re wanted and valued.  If adults in particular work to make young people feel noticed, named and known, they’re ensuring that young people feel like belongingness, which supports both healthy development and mental wellness. 

  • Create environments where they can be their full selves.

Gen Z values authenticity. In fact, a majority of the young people we’ve surveyed won’t join an organization where inclusion is not one of their core tenets. Not only do they want the freedom to be their authentic selves, they also want everyone else to be able to show up that way as well. When all involved can be their full selves, it makes space for the meaningful connection they desire.

  • Commit to their flourishing.

Demonstrating care to a young person is patient and careful work, but it’s worth it. Eighty-seven percent of the young people we surveyed in 2020 said they trust adults who take time to foster relationships. Young people experience care when adults spend time with them and honor the time together by listening intently, taking notes, and avoiding other distractions. Young people are often juggling several commitments and responsibilities, so offering support and meaningful action consistently can help them thrive.

But beginning this month, Springtide will set out to learn even more about what’s working for Gen Z. 

Supported by a $1.25 million grant from Lilly Foundation, our institute will undertake a three-year project to find out what is engaging Gen Z in America’s new religious and spiritual landscape. Our team will conduct research to understand who and what is excelling in connecting with young people, and study how and why these approaches are working so effectively. Springtide will then share those findings with those who care for young people so they can bring that to the work they do. 

This project will include: 

  • Bringing together expert practitioners from notable faith-based groups to share their wisdom and distributing a nationwide survey to faith leaders working with young people  
  • Visiting organizations and spaces around the nation where young people say they are thriving 
  • Conducting a national survey of 5,000 young people to center their voices in the project  
  • Exploring how project findings can be grounded in theology with help from influential thinkers  
  • Forming a community of practice where faith leaders can draw from project findings to transform how they engage young people
  • Designing frameworks for national distribution that can be adapted and applied within faith communities 

This project will continue our work to understand why young people struggle and thrive, particularly in faith-based environments, but will also test the merit of the religious decline narrative in the United States. As the number of Americans claiming no religious affiliation rises in national surveys, this project will explore in greater depths how faith-based organizations successfully support young people.  

Learn more and sign up to get the latest news on this exciting work! 

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