Youth Collaboratory Accepting Applications Until July 1st

For younger folks excited to build their civic power, Citizen University is accepting applications for their 2020 Youth Collaboratory cohort! The Youth Collaboratory is an exciting opportunity for 24 high school sophomores and juniors, who are passionate about civic engagement, to join this year-long program to strengthen civic literacy and network with civic leaders. Applications are due Monday, July 1st – so make sure to share with your networks and submit applications ASAP. You can read more about the Youth Collaboratory and how to apply in the post below, and find the original version of this information on Citizen University’s site here.


Empowering the Rising Generation: Youth Collaboratory

The Youth Collaboratory is a year-long program to empower and connect a rising generation of civic leaders and doers.

24 highly-motivated students from around the country will join Citizen University and travel to cities around the nation, meeting leading civic innovators, sharpening their literacy in citizen power and producing their own independent projects in their communities.

This is a unique and exciting opportunity to be connected to a network of incredible change-makers and gain skills and connections for a lifetime of civic power.

In this era of economic and political inequality, the work of power literacy is especially urgent, nowhere more so than in the rising generation of young people who will be facing the consequences of today’s polarization and inequality for years to come.

Members of the Youth Collaboratory participate in interactive workshops led by Eric Liu and Citizen University educators, collaborate with Citizen U staff to develop programs to engage youth nation-wide, and individually complete projects in their communities. Each cohort meets three times, in three different locations.

Armed with the knowledge, skills, connections, and experience of the Youth Collaboratory, our diverse cohort of passionate young people will be prepared to be true leaders of civic change in America for the next generation.

The 2020 Youth Collaboratory Cohort will begin in October 2019.

Sign up on our interest form to receive information about Citizen University’s youth programs.

You can find the original version of this information on the Citizen University site at www.citizenuniversity.us/programs/youth-collaboratory/.

Join Democracy Beyond Elections Campaign Kick Off in NYC

We are thrilled to share this exciting announcement from our friends at the Participatory Budgeting Project – an NCDD member organization, in collaboration with Civic Hall, for the national kick off of the Democracy Beyond Elections campaign. This campaign seeks to strengthen democratic engagement and participation between and beyond elections and we strongly encourage folks in the network to be present if they can when this new effort launches on Monday, June 24th at Civic Hall in New York City. Learn more about this new effort to amplify participatory democracy in the post below and find the original information on the Eventbrite page here.


Democracy Beyond Elections: A New Deal for Our Broken Democracy?

Join the Participatory Budgeting Project and Forums @ Civic Hall for the national kick off of the Democracy Beyond Elections campaign. We are convening to build support for a democracy that deepens participation and civic engagement beyond and between elections, and creates a pipeline for diverse and equitable community leadership.

Learn about top new models of participatory democracy, including Ireland’s National Citizen Assembly, Scotland’s Community Empowerment Act, Spain’s Decide Madrid, and New York City’s Civic Engagement Commission and Participatory Budgeting. Be inspired by how community and government leaders from these programs have used participatory democracy to equitably reshape government policy and spending on issues such as abortion, climate change, and transportation.

We’re asking questions like:

  • Why is trust in government so low?
  • Can we unrig our systemically undemocratic government structure so it reflects the majority rather than the privileged elite?
  • How could participatory democracy support social movements for equity and give more power to historically marginalized people?
  • How can we leverage moments of political and economic crisis to win structural changes in government?
  • How is participatory democracy different from and related to electoral politics?
  • How can we bring government by the people to scale in the U.S.?

The evening will start with a brief overview of the Democracy Beyond Elections campaign from Shari Davis, Co-Executive Director at the Participatory Budgeting Project. Guest speakers will then share their experience with expanding or engaging with participatory democracy practices, before moderated conversation and audience discussion. Speakers include:

Miguel Arana Catania | Director of Citizen Participation, City of Madrid

Louise Caldwell | Entrepreneur, Member of Ireland Citizens Assembly

Fiona Garven | Director, Scottish Community Development Centre and Community Health Exchange

Sarah Sayeed, Ph.D | Chair, Civic Engagement Commission | Senior Advisor, Community Affairs Unit, New York City Mayor’s Office

Doors open at 5:50 pm, we start promptly at 6:15 pm.

This event is coordinated by Forums @ Civic Hall and the Participatory Budgeting Project, in partnership with the Center for Popular Democracy, Generation Citizen, Everyday Democracy, and People’s Action.

Support for this program was provided by the Ford Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the foundations.

For more information visit https://www.participatorybudgeting.org/dbe/.

You can find the original version of this information on the Eventbrite page at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/democracy-beyond-elections-a-new-deal-for-our-broken-democracy-tickets-62891807088

Listen to Confab Recording on Using Slack for Democratic Movement Building

We had a wonderfully engaging call last Thursday to learn more about the capabilities of using the collaborative platform, Slack, to further connect the D&D field and growing Democracy Movement. The call was co-hosted with our friends at the Bridge Alliance who discussed a new effort launched recently on the platform called the Democracy Movement Slack Forum and gave us a preview of the new space. If you weren’t able to join the call, we encourage you to listen to it now!

We were joined by Walt Roberts who gave the 45 participants on the call a quick tour of Slack and how the platform streamlines communication by bringing text, email, and direct messaging altogether. The way the platform is designed lends itself well to the growing Democracy Movement Slack Forum (DMFS), in how it offers space for participants to self-organize and create action together. Walt shared with us how this space was developed; growing from the Unrig the Summit 2018 conference and catalyzed by the desire to fix our broken and rigged political system. He discussed the evolution of the working title, the Democracy Movement, and how it is really a movement of many movements, across the spectrum of ideologies.

Phase two is currently in progress, in which the organizers of the Slack space are looking to bring in those groups and leaders who are doing Democracy building work. It’s meant to be a collaborative space for people to work together in nonpartisan ways and co-develop this growing Democracy Movement. If you are interested in participating in the DMFS, please reach out to keiva[at]ncdd[dot]org for the information on how to join! We’ve set up a channel on the DMFS called #group_ncdd_forum that we encourage you to join if you’re already onboard the Slack space!

Here are some of our favorite takeaways from the Confab call:

  • Slack brings an “open space” like way of self-organizing conversations and helps bring order to the chaos of multiple streams, threads, and branches of conversation.
  • The Democracy Movement is a broad term that encompasses all efforts to get our country back on track and spans the ideological spectrum.
  • The Democracy Movement Slack Forum is a collaborative work, conversation, & community space for those who seek to work together in nonpartisan ways to co-develop a big democracy movement, reduce silos & build a shared infrastructure.

We had an engaging conversation in the chat discussion and you can view saved the transcript of  it here. We recorded the whole presentation in case you weren’t able to join us, which you can access by clicking here. While access to the Confab recordings is usually a benefit of being an NCDD member, we have made an exception with this one in order for more folks to join the DMSF and co-create this movement. If you like what you experience, we’d love for you to join as an NCDD member (if you haven’t already!) and learn more about the sweet benefits of being part of the NCDD Coalition here!

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We want to thank Walt, Jeremy and the Bridge Alliance team, for making this call happen! And an equally large thank you to all the Confab participants for contributing to this conversation! To learn more about NCDD’s Confab Calls and hear recordings of others, visit www.ncdd.org/events/confabs.

Finally, we love holding these events and we want to continue to elevate the work of our field with Confab Calls and Tech Tuesdays. It is through your generous contributions to NCDD that we can keep doing this work! That’s why we want to encourage you to support NCDD by making a donation or becoming an NCDD member today (you can also renew your membership by clicking here). Thank you!

See you on Slack!

Democratic-Renewal News Site Launches – TheFulcrum.US

It’s a big week of website launches for the dialogue, deliberation, and engagement community! In case you missed it, Participedia launched their new Wikipedia-like website for resources related to civic engagement and democratic innovation earlier this week. A new site launched yesterday called The Fulcrum, a digital publication that will serve as a news source for national efforts going on that strengthen American democracy. Our field knows there is great work going on across the country to improve the quality and state of our democratic republic, and this site is a great amplifier to spread awareness for this work! Check out the press release below shared with us via the team at The Fulcrum and we encourage you to contribute to this premier news source.


News Release: TheFulcrum.US Launches

Today we are launching the only news site dedicated exclusively to covering the community of people and organizations seeking to improve American democracy.

The Fulcrum is a hub of original reporting, coverage from around the country, opinion and more for readers seeking to learn about efforts to strengthen American democracy.

The Fulcrum is staffed by award-winning journalists who report on the efforts to make our democratic republic less tribal, our elections more competitive, our politicians less beholden to moneyed interests, and our officials more attentive to real evidence in policy-making so Congress may become more effective, ethical and civil.

The Fulcrum follows these issues exclusively, like no other news site. We track efforts to help government be more responsive to the Americans who want these changes. Our team decodes behaviors threatening (or protecting) the principles of the Constitution. Most importantly, we explain how you can get involved and why our democracy depends on it.

“We’re thrilled to launch The Fulcrum during this time of intense interest in fixing our country’s political system,” says Publisher and Executive Editor David Meyers, who previously held a number of senior roles at CQ Roll Call. “The data clearly shows that people care about these issues and through The Fulcrum we will help them better understand what is happening, who is doing the work and how to better connect.”

The Fulcrum’s nonpartisan political reform coverage began in December 2018 with the email newsletter known as The Firewall. Its popularity has grown, and it is now available under The Fulcrum brand, as well as our robust website filled with the latest reform-related news and opinion pieces from leaders of the reform movement. The readership includes reformers, philanthropists, reporters, editors and the general public.

While rooting for the political system to strengthen, The Fulcrum’s journalistic role is to bring a clear and unbiased eye to the debates. Doing so requires freedom from partisanship and journalistic independence from those supporting our mission. So while we are incubated by Issue One, which describes itself as “the leading cross-partisan political reform group in Washington,” we are editorially independent of Issue One and its funders.

“American democracy has become fundamentally challenged since I started covering D.C. 30 years ago, decoding policy and politics for voters,” says Editor in Chief David Hawkings, most recently senior editor at CQ Roll Call. “I’m passionate about the need for more clear-eyed, unbiased reporting that boosts understanding of the dysfunction that is threatening our collective future. We’re working together to illuminate the efforts to help our government serve the people.”

The Fulcrum was conceptualized by Issue One Founder and CEO Nick Penniman who says, “Across the country, Americans are more eager than ever to fix our broken political system. The Fulcrum will highlight the people, organizations, and efforts that are doing this work. Renewing our republic for the next generation requires all hands on deck, and the Fulcrum will be the destination site for change-makers working to strengthen our democracy. Issue One has been proud to conceive and sponsor this project. We look forward to seeing it flourish under the leadership of veteran political journalists David Meyers and David Hawkings.”

The Fulcrum is funded by the Hewlett Foundation, the Bridge Alliance Education Fund, Arnold Ventures and the Lizzie and Jonathan M. Tisch Foundation.

You’re invited to visit our new website, and subscribe to our newsletter, on TheFulcrum.US.

Please connect with us:

Twitter – https://twitter.com/fulcrum_us

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TheFulcrum.US

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/company/14036411

David Hawkings has been a reporter, editor and columnist focused on the policies, politics and people of Congress for three decades. Most recently he was the senior editor of CQ Roll Call, wrote the “Hawkings Here” column, and hosted a series of videos and podcasts dubbed “Roll Call Decoder.” He is a regular guest on Fox News, Federal News Radio and Newsy and has appeared as an analyst on CNN, MSNBC and NPR. Follow David Hawkings on Twitter.

David Meyers has spent the past two decades immersed in political media. He was most recently vice president of business operations for CQ Roll Call, and prior to that was the organization’s vice president of research and content development. Meyers served as director of StateTrack, managing editor for Roll Call, and ran the day-to-day newsroom operations and led development of RollCall.com. He served as president of the Washington Press Club Foundation from July 2013 through June 2015. Follow David Meyers on Twitter.

Nick Penniman is the founder and CEO of Issue One, the leading cross-partisan political reform group in Washington that unites Republicans, Democrats, and independents in the movement to fix our broken political system. He co-authored “Nation on the Take” in 2016 and was previously the founder and executive director of the Huffington Post Investigative Fund, Washington director of the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy and publisher of Washington Monthly.

You can check out The Fulcrum site at www.thefulcrum.us/.

Don’t Miss Confab Call on Using Slack for D&D Movement Building

Friendly reminder about our upcoming Confab Call happening this Thursday with our friends at the Bridge Alliance to explore the use of the collaboration tool, Slack! We learn more about the development of the Bridge Alliance’s new joint project, the Democracy Movement Slack Forum, and discuss some best practices of the platform for movement building around civic action.

This free call will be on Thursday, June 6th from 2-3 pm Eastern, 11 am-12 pm PacificRegister today so you don’t miss out on this engaging call!reg-button-2

Slack is a collaboration platform that streamlines communication amongst members by consolidating text, email, group and instant messaging into one app. For the last few years, the platform has quickly grown in popularity as a great tool for connecting individuals and driving action.

For this Confab, we hope to explore how can Slack be used to further reduce silos amongst people doing dialogue and deliberation work and better cultivate connections to facilitate change. Our hope is that all of us who drive civic change can learn from other’s experiences with the platform to help our collective efforts thrive.

We will be joined by the Bridge Alliance and their partners, who will share more about the new Democracy Movement Slack being developed and how the experience has been so far. We’ll also ask others on the call to share their experiences or questions. The Confab will be an opportunity for those on the call who are also Bridge Alliance members to learn more about how to join the Slack group.

We’d love for folks who have used Slack or are still currently using it to join the call and share their experience. What are some of the benefits of using it and are there any challenges? This conversation will offer insight for a new effort underway on Slack by the Bridge Alliance, called the Democracy Movement Slack Forum; a co-creation with the National Association of Nonpartisan Reformers, RepresentUS, and Unite America. This new project is in its developing stages now and is intended to be a transpartisan space for those in the Democracy Movement to communicate and collaborate.

Make sure you register today to secure your spot!

About Our Confab Co-Hosts 

Bridge Alliance is a coalition of over 90 organizations dedicated to rejuvenating America. With each organization focusing on a different sector of the movement, our members represent a combined three million supporters in the burgeoning field of civic reform and civil discourse.

About NCDD’s Confab Calls

Confab bubble imageNCDD’s Confab Calls are opportunities for members (and potential members) of NCDD to talk with and hear from innovators in our field about the work they’re doing and to connect with fellow members around shared interests. Membership in NCDD is encouraged but not required for participation. Confabs are free and open to all. Register today if you’d like to join us!

PACE Announces Funding for Faith & Democracy Initiative

ICYMI – There is a great funding opportunity that was just announced yesterday by the Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) to fund an initiative exploring the intersection of faith and democracy. PACE is offering $300k to support 5-7 projects that investigate the question, How can faith be a means to bridge divides and foster respect and cooperation in our democracy? Those accepted will join a year-long peer Learning Community to serve as a testing lab on key questions and share learnings. RFPs are now open and applications are being accepted until July 1st. We encourage you to share this with your networks! You can read the announcement below and find the original version on the PACE site here.


Faith In/And Democracy: A Funding and Learning Initiative from PACE

Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) has launched a pilot funding and learning initiative to invest in and promote engagement at the intersection of faith and democracy. The Faith In/And Democracy initiative will provide about $300,000 in grant support to 5-7 projects that explore this driving question: How can faith be a means to bridge divides and foster respect and cooperation in our democracy?  The Request for Proposals opens today; applications are open until July 1, 2019.

PACE is a community of funders that invest in the sustaining elements of democracy and civic life in the U.S.  “This exploration is a natural extension of PACE’s mission to deepen and enrich philanthropy’s support of democracy and civic life in the U.S.” said Kristen Cambell, Executive Director of PACE. “Faith communities have been a vibrant part of our civic fabric throughout the history of our nation.  With this project, we hope to uncover ways in which faith can serve to ease the divisions that plague our political, civic, and social processes.”

At this important moment in our democracy, many civic engagement funders and practitioners have redoubled efforts to bridge social and political divides.  This new initiative focuses on a largely unexplored connection point for bridge building: the power and potential of faith as a catalyst. In order to thrive, our democracy requires understanding, tolerance, and empathy across difference; this initiative seeks to uplift efforts to shift divisive perceptions of faith communities and build narratives about the power and potential of faith to bolster engagement in democracy and civic life.

While many institutions seek to engage people of faith in bridge-building and pluralism efforts, few organizations are funding specific interventions to engage people of faith in using their faith to support the well-being of democracy. Fewer still are considering the ways in which faith can serve to ease divisions that plague our political processes.  This pilot initiative led by PACE represents a meaningful step toward filling this gap. “We see this as a new mechanism of support to our members, as well as a vehicle for PACE to contribute learning and leadership to our field,” added Cambell. The initiative is inspired by PACE members and catalyzed in partnership with the Fetzer Institute and the Democracy Fund, as well as additional members of an Advisory Committee.

Embracing the exploratory nature of the initiative, a central aim of the effort is learning: in addition to funding 5-7 projects, PACE will launch a cohort-based, year-long peer Learning Community for those engaged with the initiative. This community will serve as a “laboratory” to test key questions about learning and impact, and enable us to reflect those learnings to funders, nonprofits, and our fields more broadly.

To learn more about the initiative, please visit PACEfunders.org/faith.  To access the full RFP and to apply, click here.

You can find the original version of this announcement on the PACE site at www.pacefunders.org/faith-in-and-democracy/.

Exploring Podcasts as Emerging Medium for Civic Learning

For folks in the New York City area, there is a cool event coming up next week that we wanted to make sure our network knew about on exploring how podcasts are being used to deepen civic knowledge and practices. The Metropolitan New York Library Council is hosting the in-person event, “Podcasts To The Rescue! An Emerging Medium for Learning About Civics, Government, and the Social Contract” on Thursday, May 30th from 7-8:30 pm Eastern. There is a fantastic line-up of speakers planned for the night, including Jenna Spinelle from NCDD member organization, the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State. The event is free, but space is limited, so make sure you save your seat by registering. Learn more about the event in the post below and find the original version here.


Podcasts To The Rescue! An Emerging Medium for Learning About Civics, Government, and the Social Contract

Millions of Americans cast ballots in the 2018 Midterm Elections, but participation in our democracy was already on an upswing since Donald Trump won the Presidential Election in 2016. While 7 in 10 Americans report feeling generally negative about what is going on in the country today, Americans are also more hopeful about solving problems. This hopefulness may account for the increased interest in how our government works and what role individuals and communities can play in that process. And as ever, podcasters are responding to this interest by producing shows that tackle policy and civic engagement in a variety of formats.

Podcasts To The Rescue! An Emerging Medium for Learning About Civics, Government, and the Social Contract will feature a diverse group of podcast hosts and producers, looking at the ways each podcast engages and informs listeners on how to stay invested in the social contract.

Moderator: Matisse Bustos-Hawkes, Founder at Otro Lado Communications and former Associate Director, Communications & Engagement at WITNESS

Panelists:

  • Arden Walentowski, producer and co-host of Let’s Get Civical, a comedic and irreverent take on how our government works
  • Harry Siegel, co-host of FAQ NYC, a weekly dive into the big questions about New York City produced by Alex Brook Lynn
  • Jenna Spinelle, producer and host of Democracy Works an initiative of the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State
  • Mila Atmos, executive producer and host of Future Hindsight, where civic engagement meets civil discourse
  • Allison Daskal Hausman, producer and host of The Pledge Podcast, inspiring portraits of ordinary Americans stepping up to strengthen our democracy.

Panel discussions will take place 599 11th Avenue, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10003. The event is free but space is limited.

Other panels in this series include:

You can find the original version of this announcement on the Eventbrite site at www.eventbrite.com/e/podcasts-to-the-rescue-an-emerging-medium-for-learning-about-civics-government-and-the-social-tickets-59456853048.

June Confab on Using Slack for D&D Movement Building

We are excited to co-host another Confab Call at the beginning of June, this time with our friends at the Bridge Alliance to explore the use of the collaboration tool, Slack. We will discuss the capabilities of the platform for movement building around civic action and learn more about the development of Bridge Alliance’s new joint project, the Democracy Movement Slack Forum.

This free call will be on Thursday, June 6th from 2-3 pm Eastern, 11 am-12 pm Pacific. Register today so you don’t miss out on this engaging call!

reg-button-2

Slack is a collaboration platform that streamlines communication amongst members by consolidating text, email, group and instant messaging into one app. For the last few years, the platform has quickly grown in popularity as a great tool for connecting individuals and driving action. For this Confab, we hope to explore how can Slack be used to further reduce silos amongst people doing dialogue and deliberation work and better cultivate connections to facilitate change. Our hope is that all of us who drive civic change can learn from other’s experiences with the platform to help our collective efforts thrive.

We’d love for folks who have used Slack or are still currently using it to join the call and share their experience. What are some of the benefits of using it and are there any challenges? This conversation will offer insight for a new effort underway on Slack by the Bridge Alliance, called the Democracy Movement Slack Forum; a co-creation with the National Association of Nonpartisan Reformers, RepresentUS, and Unite America. This new project is in its developing stages now and is intended to be a transpartisan space for those in the Democracy Movement to communicate and collaborate.

We will be joined by the Bridge Alliance and their partners, who will share more about the new Democracy Movement Slack being developed and how the experience has been so far. We’ll also ask others on the call to share their experiences or questions. The Confab will be an opportunity for those on the call who are also Bridge Alliance members to learn more about how to join the Slack group.

Make sure you register today to secure your spot!

About Our Confab Co-Hosts 

Bridge Alliance is a coalition of over 90 organizations dedicated to rejuvenating America. With each organization focusing on a different sector of the movement, our members represent a combined three million supporters in the burgeoning field of civic reform and civil discourse.

About NCDD’s Confab Calls

Confab bubble imageNCDD’s Confab Calls are opportunities for members (and potential members) of NCDD to talk with and hear from innovators in our field about the work they’re doing and to connect with fellow members around shared interests. Membership in NCDD is encouraged but not required for participation. Confabs are free and open to all. Register today if you’d like to join us!

Two New Civic Awakening Works Released from Eric Liu

If you are looking for some fantastic D&D content to enjoy this weekend, we encourage you to check out the new works from Eric Liu on awakening our civic power. He released his new TED talk, “How to revive your belief in democracy”, in which he offers a framework for democratic participation. As well as, his new book, “Become America: Civic Sermons on Love, Responsibility, and Democracy” which compiles the civic sermons he gave at the first 19 Civic Saturday events, hosted throughout the country last year by Citizen University. You can read the announcement in the Citizen University newsletter shared below, sign up for the CU newsletter here, and please share these two exciting resources with your networks!


Citizen University Updates: New TED talk and new book!

I’m excited to be bringing two works into the world this week! Both flow from our mission at Citizen University to spark a great civic awakening in our country. And I’m writing to ask for your help getting both these works into wide circulation.

The first is my brand-new TED Talk on what I call “civic religion” — a framework of belief and practice for sustaining democracy. I’ve got to admit, I wasn’t sure how people at the TED conference last month would receive a talk using a religious metaphor. But it turns out that at TED, as everywhere and especially in the U.S. today, people are yearning for a frame of shared purpose and civic spirit. For an invitation to do more and be more. The response in the room was electric. And I hope it can be so in the wider world now. You can watch the video below and will you please share and post the talk today?

The second work is my new book called BECOME AMERICA which contains the civic sermons I wrote and delivered at the first nineteen Civic Saturdays our team organized around the United States. These essays challenge us to rehumanize our politics and rekindle a spirit of love and hope in civic life. Become America will prompt you to contemplate our ongoing story as Americans and energize you to help rebuild a country you’re proud to call home. I’ll be holding a special event for the book in DC on May 18. Will you order the book today or join us at one of our book events?

Both the TED Talk and BECOME AMERICA are rooted in history but also products of this moment — a moment of peril and possibility in democratic life. This is a time for us all to ask what we believe, and what it takes to live up to our ideals. It is also a time to ask for help from friends — and to make new friends by asking for help.

I’m so grateful for your support, and gratified that we get to share in such purposeful work. – Eric

You can receive these announcements in your inbox and sign up for the Citizen University newsletter by clicking here.

National Civic League Publishes New Edition of Civic Index

One of the nation’s oldest civic engagement organizations, The National Civic League – also an NCDD member org, recently released the fourth edition of The Civic Index, a set of guidelines developed over the last 30 years to measure the civic capital of a community. Civic capital measures, “the formal and informal relationships, networks and capacities that communities use to make decisions collaboratively and solve problems” and The Civic Index offers the framework for assessing these factors and relationships to determine a community’s civic strength. You can download a free version of the NCL Civic Index by clicking here. Read more in the announcement below and find the original version on the NCL site here.


The League’s Civic Index: Measuring Your Community’s Capacity to Solve Problems and Thrive

What makes some communities better able than others to solve the tough social, political, economic or physical challenges they face? This was a question the National Civic League set out to answer over 30 years ago. On-the-ground research revealed a set of factors that we call civic capital — the formal and informal relationships, networks and capacities that communities use to make decisions collaboratively and solve problems.

Somewhat like social capital, but not to be confused with financial capital, civic capital can be found in all sorts of communities, not just the most affluent, educated or advantaged. While myriad other factors contribute to community progress, civic capital is the core factor identified by the National Civic League as the primary explanation for long-term community success.

At the National Civic League, we know of many communities with an abundant supply of civic capital. The All-America City program has recognized over 500 of these communities during the past 69 years. All have varying degrees of civic engagement, collaboration and leadership, and have been able to tackle tough issues in a sustainable manner–by bringing everyone to the table and creating equity.

Earlier this year the National Civic League released the fourth edition of the Civic Index, a self-assessment tool consisting of a set of questions that provide a framework for discussing and measuring a community’s civic capital. Since it was first developed in 1986, many communities have used the Civic Index to better understand their civic strengths and to identify gaps or areas in need of further attention, soliciting community input to create a baseline measure of their civic capital and monitor progress over time as they work to enhance their internal capacity.

The Seven Components of Civic Capital

The Civic Index describes the seven components of civic capital, provides examples of each, lists the 32 questions that are used to gauge each component and provides ideas on how to use the index. Here’s a synopsis of these seven components.

  1. Engaged Residents: Residents play an active role in making decisions and civic affairs.
  2. Inclusive Community Leadership: The community actively cultivates and supports leaders from diverse backgrounds and with diverse perspectives
  3. Collaborative Institutions: Communities with good civic capital have regular collaboration among the government, business, nonprofit and other sectors, as well as structures in place that facilitate such collaboration.
  4. Embracing Diversity and Equity: Communities with healthy civic capital recognize and celebrate their diversity. They strive for equity in services, support and engagement.
  5. Authentic Communication: Healthy communities need credible, civic-minded sources of information presented in a way that residents can use.
  6. Culture of Engagement: Involvement by residents, businesses, nonprofits and other stakeholders in every aspect of civic affairs should be part of local culture—an expectation, not an afterthought.
  7. Shared Vision and Values: Communities with shared values and civic pride have a common foundation for addressing public matters.

Summary 

Nearly a hundred years ago, Justice Louis Brandeis, a one-time member of the League’s executive committee, called states “laboratories of democracy.” That mantle has now been passed to the local level, as cities, counties, towns and other local communities create innovations and regional or national networks to tackle such issues as climate change, health, education and economic prosperity.

At the same time, local governments cannot solve problems on their own. As Bruce Katz points out in The New Localism, community problem-solving depends on “multi-sectoral relationships,” with government often serving as a convener or catalyst. What happens next depends on the civic capacity of the particular locality. It is the communities with civic capital — the full engagement and collaboration of its residents, businesses, nonprofits and other stakeholders–that have the resources and persistence to successfully address difficult issues and build a sustainable future.

For a free copy of the National Civic League’s Civic Index, please visit www.nationalcivicleague.org/resource-center.

You can find the original version of this announcement on the National Civic League site at www.nationalcivicleague.org/the-leagues-civic-index-measuring-your-communitys-capacity-to-solve-problems-and-thrive/.