Creating Community Through Ben Franklin Circles

Back at the end of Summer, we announced an effort called Ben Franklin Circles (BFC), an NCDD member org that we have some exciting updates on! Done in collaboration with New York’s 92nd Street Y, Citizen University, and the Hoover Institution, we are starting to hear the stories from these Circles and we will continue to uplift them on the NCDD blog over the coming weeks. Learn more about the grassroots development of these self-improvement talking circles, inspired by one of our founding fathers, and the ways in which these experiences have helped to build relationships and community. We encourage you to read the post below or find the original on BFC’s site here.

Why I Started a Benjamin Franklin Circle

Even just a cursory look at headlines these days brings forth an environment of “us vs them” and foretells a path toward greater divisions.

While our society has had a history of deep divisions, this somehow seems different. What seems different is that the people who make this country work – the teachers, the social workers, the police, the tradesmen, the small business owners, the big business employees, are now pulled into a colossal, epic struggle among themselves. We are letting go of the final threads holding us together – the threads that remain after television first brought our attention indoors instead of out; after social media took us from face-to-face contact even with our closest friends and families; after the hectic life style took away our free time to build community. We are now building walls all over. You said this, so I reject you. You believe this, so I will un-friend you.

“Where there is no human connection, there is no compassion. Without compassion, then community, commitment, loving-kindness, human understanding, and peace all shrivel. Individuals become isolated, the isolated turn cruel, and the tragic hovers in the forms of domestic and civil violence.” – Susan Vreeland, Art, Peace, Compassion

But, I’m an optimistic at heart who believes that people, deep down, are good and want to bring joy to others in order to create happiness for themselves. And so, this brings us to a small but significant action you can take. Benjamin Franklin Circles is a model that revives a model of community gathering created by one of our founding fathers (And yes, our founding fathers were not perfect. Some had qualities that are incomprehensible or even reprehensible to us now, but play along with me here.) These circles aimed to gather people of diverse backgrounds for self-improvement and community benefit. Is this not what we need more of today?

I decided to start my own Benjamin Franklin Circle to build more community connections as a means to strengthen our society and build its resilience against the onslaught of divisive forces. In the best practice of starting with yourself and close to home, I decided to organize this Circle among my neighbors, of whom, after 8 years of living here, I knew very few. My personal objectives were two: to meet my neighbors, and create a stronger community spirit.

We have no community listserv. The last neighborhood directory was published in 2010. In short, we all live our lives inside our homes, smile at each other if we’re walking our pets, but we don’t ask a favor of them or even know their names, nevermind invite anyone over. In thinking about the Circles, my first fear was that if I invited neighbors, no one would come. While that slowed me down for a few days, I realized that there was no other way to reach my objective than to invite people I do not know. And what’s the worst that can happen? People I don’t know will think that my initiative was futile. And what’s the best that could happen? I meet new friends and feel more a part of a community. From that perspective, my decision was strengthened.

With no email addresses or phone numbers, I decided to create flyers and distribute them. I printed out 150 flyers and placed them on door knobs. In the process of walking around the community, I met many people for the first time. I learned stories of previous community networks that no longer exist. I was encouraged by everyone for the needed initiative. One neighbor walked with me and shared with me her knowledge of the community as she was one of the first residents. Without a single response to my invitation, the first objective was being accomplished!

The first responses came to me shortly after I returned from the distribution with the following messages:

“I just wanted to let you know that I would love to be a part of your Benjamin Franklin Circles! I think it’s great that you’re starting something like this; as we both know the world could use a coalition of thinkers for the better.”

“It was great to meet you today! I’ve read your flyer, and would love to participate in the circle.”

Within 10 days, the deadline I had communicated, I had 10 people on the roster. We held our first meeting in November.

So, if you are wondering what you can do or if you are wondering if small things can make a difference, I share with you one of my favorite quotes by Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

More connection, not less, is what is needed to help all of us bring forth our better selves. If we all make an effort, make some new friends and strengthen the bonds with those around us, that can only bring more good to the world.

Nanette Alvey spent the majority of her career in West Africa, managing education, health and training programs. She was recently Director of Leadership and Organizational Development at EnCompass LLC in Maryland. She continues to consult with international development programs and she’s working to strengthen US non-profits addressing economic inequities and racism in the Washington DC area. She runs a Ben Franklin Circle in Gaithersburg, MD.

For more information, please visit: You can follow BFC on FacebookInstagram, and on Twitter at @BFCircles as well as the hashtag #BenFranklinCircles.

You can find the resource on Ben Franklin Circles’ site at

MetroQuest Webinar on LRTP Engagement Strategy, 3/20

Next week, NCDD member org MetroQuest will be hosting the webinar, A Winning Public Involvement Approach for LRTPs; co-sponsored by NCDD, IAP2, and the American Planning Association (APA). The webinar is on Tuesday, March 20th and will feature the work of the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments about best practices for developing an exciting public engagement strategy on long-range transportation planning. You can read the announcement below or find the original on MetroQuest’s site here.

MetroQuest Webinar: A Winning Public Involvement Approach for LRTPs

A winning recipe for public involvement – how to build a LRTP the public will support!

Wednesday, February 28th
11 am Pacific | 12 pm Mountain | 1 pm Central | 2 pm Eastern (1 hour)
Educational Credit Available (CM APA AICP)
Complimentary (FREE)


How can you captivate the public to collect input for your long-range transportation plan? Make it visual. Gamify it. Map it. Learn how on March 20th!

Join Trevor Layton, Christina Ignasiak, and Trevor Brydon from the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments for an insider view of their brilliant approach to public outreach. Learn how they identified local issues with map markers, educated citizens with visual preference surveys, and uncovered local priorities with online rankings. They engaged over 4,000 residents! The result? A 2045 Regional Transportation Plan that reflects local values.

Register for this complimentary 1-hour live webinar to learn how to …

  • Reach beyond public meetings to engage 1000s online
  • Pinpoint key issues with online map markers
  • Educate citizens in 5 minutes with visual preferences
  • Substantiate top priorities with online rankings
  • Impress agency officials with definitive, actionable data
  • Seating is limited – save your spot today!

You can find the original version of this announcement on MetroQuest’s site at

Innovations in Participatory Democracy Conference Recap

Last week, NCDD Managing Director Courtney Breese and I had the pleasure of attending the Innovations in Participatory Democracy Conference in the Phoenix area. The conference was hosted by NCDD member organizations – the Participatory Budgeting Project and the Jefferson Center, as well as, the Center for the Future of Arizona, the Katal Center, the Participatory Governance Initiative at Arizona State University, Phoenix Union High School District, and the Policy Jury Group.

It was three exhilarating days of mixing and mingling and learning with folks from across the world about the innovative practices going on to better engage our communities and improve participatory democracy. Huge shout out to PBP and all the co-hosts for such a great event, we heard from several people that this was one of the most engaging conferences they had attended.

NCDD was well represented at the conference with pre-conference trainings and several folks from the network who presented sessions:

    • Courtney and I presented a session with two fellow NCDD members, Cassie Hemphill (of the IAP2 Federation and University of Montana) and Annie Rappeport (of the University of Maryland), on Using art to explore participatory democracy work and connections.
    • There were two pre-conference trainings by NCDD member orgs: One on participatory budgeting (PB) hosted by the Participatory Budgeting Project, and another training on citizen juries, citizen assemblies, and sortition hosted by the Jefferson Center and the Policy Jury Group.
    • Our upcoming Tech Tuesday speaker, David Fridley of Synaccord, presented the session, Up for deliberation using digital tools, with Amy Lee of Kettering, John Richardson of Ethelo, and several others. [Learn more about Synaccord at our free Tech Tuesday webinar next week on March 20th – register here]
    • Martha McCoy of Everday Democracy held a session on Advancing Racial Equity in Government Planning and Participatory Democracy with Sarita Turner of PolicyLink and John Dobard of the Advancement Project.
    • Matt Leighninger of Public Agenda did a session with Patrick Scully of Participedia and Mark Warren from the University of British Columbia on What can we gain from better documentation of participatory democracy? And how can we do it together?
    • Jim Rough from the Center for Wise Democracy had a session with several others on Dealing with Global Democratic decline: What now?
    • The Participatory Budgeting Project held numerous sessions (too many to list here!) but you can check out the full conference schedule by clicking here.

We had an NCDD meet up on Friday night in Tempe, where we had a great opportunity to connect with folks in our network and those new to NCDD – all of whom are passionate about participatory democracy. It was nice to be able to have a chance to sit down over drinks, get to know each other better, and learn about the work going on in each of our lives.

At the conference, several things stood out:

It was incredible to be able to see the participatory budgeting process going on at Central High School in Phoenix and hear from the students, staff, and administrators themselves about the impact of PB in their school and on the psyche of the student body. This was year two for this PB process and the effort has grown to include all Phoenix high schools. (By the way, have you heard the incredible news that PB will soon be implemented in all NYC high schools – which is over 400 schools! Learn more here about this phenomenal accomplishment.)

It was so rewarding to be in attendance with so many folks from across the world, each bringing exciting experiences of participatory democracy and how to transform the way that people engage. Below are some examples shared at IPDConf and by no means is an extensive list of the incredible individuals in attendance and work being done!

  • Mayor José Ribeiro shared the exciting work going on in Valongo, Portugal to empower community members to be more participatory and some of the democratic policy initiatives that have been implemented in the area. “The job of perfecting democracy is a never-ending job” – Mayor Ribeiro
  • Courtney and I had the pleasure of befriending, Antonio Zavala of Participando por México and we had an opportunity to learn more about his work on participatory budgeting in México City.
  • Hsin-I Lin of Taiwan Reach-Out Association for Democracy shared about her organization’s work bridging intergenerational connections and the participatory budgeting going on in Taiwan.
  • During lunch on the first day, Courtney and I got to talk with Suzanne van der Eerden and Petra Ramakers from the Netherlands and learn about their techniques to make participatory budgeting even more fun with gamification.
  • Willice Onyango who is leading the Coalition for Kenya Youth Manifesto presented the session on Barriers to participatory governance and how we can contribute to international efforts to move the needle, with presenters Carrie O’Neil of Mercy Corps and Malin Svanberg.

The closing panel was an energizing close-out to a powerful conference, featuring a conversation on each of the panelists’ visions for the Future of Democracy led by incoming Co-Executive Director of the Participatory Budgeting Project, Shari Davis, with Sarita Turner of Policy Link, Carlos Menchaca the NYC Council Member for District 38, Ashley Trim of the Davenport Institute, and Josh Lerner, fellow PBP Co-Executive Director. Check out the hashtag #IPDConf2018 on Twitter for more photos, quotes, and participant experiences!

New Job & Internship Opportunities in the D&D Field

NCDD sponsoring organization, Essential Partners, recently shared with us an exciting job opportunity they have on their team and we wanted to lift it up for our fantastic network. Check out some of the details of the job below, as well as, some additional offers we’ve found recently. You may want to follow up with the orgs that we shared in an earlier post that were hiring, in case any of those positions are still open.

If you’re looking to hear about the jobs we find ASAP, make sure you sign up here for our Making-A-Living listserv where we post opportunities as we find them. To note, access to the Making-A-Living listserv is part of being an NCDD member, so make sure you join/renew your NCDD membership here to receive this great benefit! Finally, if your organization is hiring, send the details directly to the Making-A-Living listserv or to keiva[at]ncdd[dot]org.

Essential Partners seeking a Director of Strategic Communications: Essential Partners (EP), a non-profit whose mission is to equip anyone facing divisive difference with skills for connection through conversation and curiosity, seeks someone smart, creative, and dynamic to help us share our mission far and wide. The DSC will report directly to the Executive Director and work closely with the Director of Development. We’re located in Cambridge, MA, and are looking for someone who can begin as soon as possible. Learn more about the qualifications and benefits of this position here.

NCDD member org Everyday Democracy is seeking an Executive Assistant (part-time). The Executive Assistant will provide high-level support for the efficient and effective operation of the Executive Offices. Learn more about the position and requirement here.

Public Agenda, an NCDD member org, is hiring a Development Director. To learn more about the position, click here.

The Aspen Institute has many job opportunities to check out here.

The Democracy Fund has several job and internship opportunities – learn more here.

Convergence is looking to hire an Executive Assistant, learn more here.

SAM (The Serve America Movement) is looking for a highly motivated Digital Content & Engagement Director to join their team. Please note they are seeking candidates in the Denver area only. Learn more here.

Unite America seeks a full-time Outreach & Fundraising Manager, Operations & Finance Manager, National Political Director, and Colorado Field Manager. Learn more here.

Democracy Works is hiring a Software Developer. They build technology for both voters and election administrators that simplifies the process and ensures that no voter should ever have to miss an election. Learn more here.

JLA Public Involvement is seeking a Public Involvement Coordinator/Communications Specialist. Learn more here.

EnvironIssues is hiring for three positions all for the Seattle region:

  • Public Involvement/Communications Associate – more here.
  • Project Coordinator – more here.
  • Associate – more here.

WSP USA Inc. has an opening for a Communication and Public Involvement Coordinator. This position supports Communications and Public Involvement efforts in the Austin, Texas and Southwest Texas region. Learn more here.

Please share with this announcement with your networks and best of luck to all applicants!

NCDD to Present at Public Library Association Conference

NCDD is excited to announce that we will be co-presenting a session at the Public Library Association Conference in Philadelphia, PA on Friday, March 23rd at 2:00pm. Along with our partners at the American Library Association Public Program’s Office, NCDD will be talking with public librarians about the Libraries Transforming Communities: Models for Change initiative and will help them further explore how libraries can engage their communities through dialogue and deliberation. The session is open to all attendees.

The description for the session, titled Libraries Transforming Communities: Models for Change is below:

Through Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC), ALA seeks to strengthen communities by giving libraries the tools they need to bring disparate voices together and lead change. Public librarians who have completed LTC: Models for Change training will share real-world experiences with World Café, Future Search and Everyday Democracy’s methods for dialogue and deliberation. Participants will break into triads to try out tools with each other and discuss next steps for taking this learning home.

At the end of this session, participants will:

1: Learn specific context applications for dialogue and deliberation models

2: Gain confidence with facilitation instruments through modeling

3: Learn where to go and how to acquire skills aligned with specific deliberation models (e.g. Everyday Democracy, World Café) following the session

The session will also include an exercise in crafting questions to promote good dialogue and deliberation, as well as sharing updates on the initiative, such as the upcoming opportunities for librarians to learn more about Conversation Cafe and Future Search. More information on the current webinar series now underway for public libraries serving small, mid-sized and rural communities can be found here.

About Libraries Transforming Communities: Models for Change

This session is offered as part of Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC): Models for Change, an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) and the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD). The initiative seeks to introduce libraries to various dialogue and deliberation approaches, enabling libraries to foster conversation and lead change in their communities.

LTC: Models for Change is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services grant RE-40-16-0137-16.

TheChisel Releases the American Dream Survey Results

We are excited to lift up this article from Deborah Devedjian, Founder of, on the recent results from their “What’s Your American Dream?” survey – and the results might surprise you! One of the biggest highlights they found is that of the 34 issues surveyed, Americans agreed on their #1 goal for 53% of those issues. NCDD was proud to be part of this coalition, in addition to many other organizations, including fellow NCDDers – Living Room ConversationsAllSides, and the Pepperdine School of Public Policy. We encourage you to read the announcement below or find the original version on PR Newswire’s site here.

Bipartisan Survey Shows Right, Left, and Center Agree on #1 Goal for 53% of 34 Issues

In an era of political divide and confusion, a bipartisan coalition has announced surprising results from its nationwide survey What’s Your American Dream?

“The results demonstrate that despite different vocabularies, favorite news channels, local customs, or professions, Americans maintain many shared values,” said Deborah Devedjian, Founder of which spearheaded the survey.

Right, Left, and Center agreed on their #1 goal for 53% of 34 issues surveyed. For a further 21% of issues, they shared the same top 2 or 3 goals in varying order.

The survey addressed 7 themes: Economy; Social Justice; Liberty & Regulation; Health, Education & Care; Infrastructure & Services; Foreign Affairs; and Governance.’s survey grew out of discussions with former Members of Congress and everyday Americans. All are frustrated with being out of touch with one another. The coalition—30 universities, media outlets, and policy organizations across the political spectrum and the nation—reaches 58 million Americans.

The survey was hosted on, a unique bipartisan public discussion platform.

“Given partisan stereotypes and soundbites, many commonalities will surprise readers, especially in Employment, Mental Health, Foreign Aid, Campaign Finance, and Elections,” said Erik Fogg, Editor of ReConsider Media.

“The widest divergences were in Guns, Environment, and Police. But even there, we see common ground among pragmatic, compassionate people who want to move the nation forward on American ideals of freedom, prosperity, equality, and security for all,” said Fogg.

Findings will be shared with the media. TheChisel will deliver the report to the President, Cabinet, Members of Congress, Supreme Court, federal agencies, and state governors.

“As a nation, we are frustrated and face uncertainties. We expect this effort will help guide our nation’s leaders to understand Americans’ goals and devise tactics to achieve those goals. It’s time for a new playbook,” said Devedjian.

The book will be released at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on February 27, 2018. Press and lawmakers are invited

The 100-page book features visually-stimulating infographics, is easy to understand, and appeals to a wide audience. Insights from American figures on liberty and freedom and personal comments from respondents add a human voice to the data. To order:

Based on 1,318 voting-age Americans reflecting 2016 Census by gender, age, race, geography, income. Respondents self-identified for political affiliation and provided numerical rankings and 5,000+ personal comments. is the first and only online civic platform based on 100% bipartisan facts and proposals. No bias. No jargon. And fun, easy-to-understand graphics. Content is developed with recognized experts from both sides of the aisle working together. Our board, advisors, investors, and team reflect America’s full political spectrum. Voice your thoughts, engage with experts, and give your feedback to TheChisel community to realize America’s aspirations.

Universities: Pepperdine School of Public Policy, University of Georgia College of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Mary Government and Political Philosophy Department, University of Missouri School of Journalism, University of the Pacific Political Science Department, Williams College Forum.

Media: Associated Collegiate Press, The Citizen’s Story, Exchange Nation, Independent Voter Network, ReConsider.

Organizations: ALL-IN Campus Democracy Challenge, AllSides, Diplomat Books, Future 500, Heartfelt Leadership Institute, Hope Street Group, Inyo County Clerk-Recorder, Living Room Conversations, National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation, National Speech and Debate Association,, Take Back Our Republic, The Democracy Commitment, The Policy Circle, Wellville, The Women’s Debate.

Sponsors: Gold: Ziggeo. Silver: Collen IP Law; The TAI Group. Bronze: AquaThority Pools & Spas; JGArchitects.

You can find the original version of this article on PR Newswire’s site at

Apply for the 2018 Summer Institute of Civic Studies

We wanted to make sure folks in our network saw that the Summer Institute for Civic Studies is now accepting applications until March 16th, and we encourage you to read more about it in the post below. The Summer Institute will run from June 11 to June 21, 2018 at Tufts University in Medford, MA. Participants will then be expected to stay for the Frontiers of Democracy conference in Boston, immediately following the Institute from the evening of June 21st to June 23rd. You can read the announcement below or find the original version on Peter Levine’s blog here.

Apply for the 2018 Summer Institute of Civic Studies

The eleventh annual Summer Institute of Civic Studies will take place from June 11 to June 21, 2018 at Tufts University. It will be an intensive, two-week, interdisciplinary seminar that brings together faculty, advanced graduate students, and practitioners from many countries and diverse fields of study. Please consider applying or forward to others who may be interested.

The Summer Institute was founded and co-taught from 2009-17 by Peter Levine, Associate Dean of Research at Tisch College, and Karol Soltan, Associate Professor in the Department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland. In 2018, it will be taught by Peter Levine with Tufts colleagues. It features guest seminars by distinguished colleagues from various institutions and engages participants in challenging discussions such as:

  • How can people work together to improve the world?
  • How can people reason together about what is right to do?
  • What practices and institutional structures promote these kinds of citizenship?
  • How should empirical evidence, ethics, and strategy relate?

The daily sessions take place on the Tufts campus in Medford, MA. The seminar concludes with a public conference, Frontiers of Democracy, and participants in the Institute are expected to stay for the conference.

A draft syllabus for the 2018 summer institute (subject to change) is here. This is a 16-minute video introduction to Civic Studies. You can read more about the motivation for the Institute in the “Framing Statement” by Harry Boyte, University of Minnesota; Stephen Elkin, University of Maryland; Peter Levine, Tufts; Jane Mansbridge, Harvard; Elinor Ostrom, Indiana University; Karol Soltan, University of Maryland; and Rogers Smith, University of Pennsylvania.

To apply: please email your resume, an electronic copy of your graduate transcript (if applicable), and a cover email about your interests to Peter Levine at  For best consideration, apply no later than March 16, 2018.

You can also sign up here to receive occasional emails about the Summer Institute if you’re interested, but perhaps not for 2018.

European Institute: Applicants from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Germany, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Poland, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan are invited to apply to the European Institute of Civic Studies to be held in Herrsching, near Munich, Germany, from July 15 to July 28, 2018. Their costs are covered thanks to a grant from DAAD.


Tuition for the Institute is free, but participants are responsible for their own housing and transportation. One option is a Tufts University dormitory room, which can be rented from $69/night for a single or $85/night for a double. Credit is not automatically offered, but special arrangements for graduate credit may be possible.

The seminar will be followed (from June 21, evening, until June 23) by a public conference–”Frontiers of Democracy 2018″–in downtown Boston. Participants in the institute are expected to stay for the public conference. See information on the conference here.

You can find the original version of this resource on Peter Levine’s blog at

Free NIFI Issue Guides and Save the Date for APV 2018

The National Issues Forums Institute, an NCDD member org, recently sent out an announcement via their newsletter offering free copies of their Coming to America issue guide on immigration, if requested by April 2nd. These guides are to be used for deliberation and then the results are given back to NIFI for analysis, so that they can share at the upcoming event, A Public Voice 2018 (#APV2018) on May 8th. APV is an opportunity for NIFI to talk with policymakers and their staffers about early feedback from the deliberative forums on immigration and the role of deliberation in democracy. You can learn more about this offer below and sign up to receive updates from the NIFI newsletter here.

FREE Materials Offer!

It’s not too late to request your free issue materials

Coming to America: Who Should We Welcome, What Should We Do?

Please join us and help your community be heard.

In partnership with the Kettering Foundation, the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) is making the digital version of the new issue guide about immigration,  Coming to America, FREE to download.

Also, for a limited time, FREE printed copies are available to forum conveners who sign up – REQUEST YOURS NOW.

All you have to do is plan to hold a forum on or before April 2, 2018 and agree to make sure participant questionnaires (also provided) get back to us for analysis and reporting.

About the issue guide
The immigration issue affects virtually every American, directly or indirectly, often in deeply personal ways. This guide is designed to help people deliberate together about how we should approach the issue. The three options presented in the issue guide reflect different ways of understanding what is at stake and force us to think about what matters most to us when we face difficult problems that involve all of us and that do not have perfect solutions.

How Information from Forums Will Be Used
Scheduled for May 9, 2018, this year’s A Public Voice event in Washington, DC, will present early insights from National Issues Forums (NIF) immigration forums around the country, giving policymakers the chance to learn more about citizen deliberation and its role in our democracy.

In early 2019, the Kettering Foundation and National Issues Forums Institute will publish a final report on the 2018 NIF immigration forums, followed by briefings for individual elected officials, Capitol Hill staffers, and other policymakers.

We hope you’ll join us in this important work by signing up for your free Coming to America issue guides by clicking here:

You can find the original announcement of this on NIFI’s newsletter, which you can sign up for here.

Taylor Willingham Award Winner Announced for 2018

The National Issues Forums Institute – an NCDD member organization – recently awarded their annual Taylor L. Willingham Legacy Award given in loving memory of our friend Taylor and her work in the field. We’d like to invite you to join us in congratulating Matt Miller, the recently re-elected mayor of Ashland Ohio. The award is given to those who are working to advance deliberative democracy in their communities, and you can read more about Matt’s work in the NIFI announcement below or find the original here.

Matt Miller is the 2018 Recipient of the Taylor L. Willingham Legacy Award

Matt Miller, of Ashland, Ohio, is this year’s recipient of the Taylor L. Willingham Legacy Award. The award, which is administered by the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI), is intended to help people who are interested in promoting deliberative forums in their communities as a way to help people talk about difficult public issues.

Miller, the recently-elected mayor of Ashland, Ohio, is especially interested in helping the community talk about the opioid epidemic, among other issues.

The following is more information about Miller’s interest in deliberative forums and his plans for using the Taylor L. Willingham Legacy Award:

Matt is a new member of the Advisory Committee for the Center for Civic Life at Ashland University. In November, he was elected as Mayor of Ashland, Ohio, and he is enthusiastic to learn more about the deliberative process and to use it to gain a public voice on major issues in the city. Additionally, people in the community will have a chance to learn about the power of democratic deliberation to engage them as citizens.

Matt’s plan for becoming involved in democratic deliberation is to host a moderator training for himself and other city officials to learn how to moderate forums, followed by forums on city issues. Grant money will be spent on the moderator training, as well as the first deliberative forum.

Click here for more information, or to contact Miller about his work.

You can find the original version of this NIFI blog post at

Participatory Budgeting Coming to NYC High Schools

Very exciting news from NCDD member org – the Participatory Budgeting Project, Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced that participatory budgeting will soon be happening in all NYC public high schools. With over 400 high schools, this is bringing PB to schools in a way that sets a powerful precedent for youth engagement and participation in democracy. Friendly reminder about the Innovations in Participatory Democracy conference happening next week and we encourage folks in the NCDD network to attend!

For those that will be at IPD, NCDD will be co-presenting a session on the first day which you can learn about in our blog post here and we also plan on having an NCDD meet up on Friday night – which we would love for you to join! You can read the PBP announcement below or find the original here.

BIG News for PB in Schools – and a BIG invitation!

Did you hear? Just this week Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the launch of Participatory Budgeting (PB) in all public high schools in New York City!

That’s over 400 schools in total!

In his State of the City address, Mayor de Blasio emphasized:

“We’ve got to prove to our young people that they’ve got the power to change the world around them. When people feel empowered they participate. When they can see the impact they’re making they come back for more. So starting next school year public school students will learn how to stay civically engaged and to fight for the future they believe in with our Civics for All initiative.”

At the Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP), we’re fighting for this future alongside young leaders like Jacinta Ojevwe and Vanessa Gonzalez – two of our youth scholarship recipients for the Innovations in Participatory Democracy Conference.

To continue growing this work, we’re hosting many conference sessionson how to engage, support, and empower youth leadership in reimagining democracy. I’m especially excited to open our conference at Phoenix’s Central High School during their PB vote – where we’ll hear from students and teachers and see nearly 3,000 students cast their ballots on how to spend part of the school district budget.

We’re eager to continue scaling and deepening the impacts of PB because, as Mayor de Blasio said:

“We know that when students feel that opportunity to make a difference it will be the beginning of a long lifetime of participation.”

Will you join us in empowering even more young leaders, and celebrating with them at our Innovations in Participatory Democracy Conference?

For a preview of the PB vote in Phoenix, see (and share!) our PB in Schools Video.

Hope to see you there!

You can find the original version of this PBP blog post at