Deadline 10/23: Apply to Host A (FREE) Nevins Fellow!

NCDD Member Organization the McCourtney Institute for Democracy is again offering the incredible opportunity for D&D organizations to take advantage of their Nevins Democracy Leaders Program. The 2017-18 application for organizations who want to host a bright, motivated, D&D-trained student is open now through Monday, October 23rd.

We are encouraging our member organizations to apply today for the chance to host a Nevins Fellow next summer! Having a Nevins Fellow work with you is a great way for your organization to take on a special project you haven’t had time for, get extra help with your big summer engagements, or increase your organizational capacity overall – all while helping grow the next generation of D&D leaders!  Nevins fellows work with organizations for eight weeks in the summer, at NO COST to the organization!

This is a unique and limited opportunity, so we encourage you to apply for a Nevins Fellow before the October 23rd deadline. You can find the application here: http://tinyurl.com/Nevins2017.

If you haven’t heard of the Nevins program before, you can start with the Frequently Asked Questions document that McCourtney created for potential applicants. The September Confab Call with Chris Beem from the McCourtney Institute also covered lots of the important details about the program. You can listen to the recording of that call by clicking here. You can also check out this blog post from a 2017 Nevins Fellow about their summer fellowship with the the Jefferson Center, to get a better sense of the student’s experience.

We can’t speak highly enough about the Nevins program’s students or about the value of this program’s contributions to the D&D field. We know that these young people will be great additions to organizations in our field.  We encourage you to apply today!

Apply to Host a Nevins Fellow – Deadline October 23!

NCDD was happy to host a Confab Call this week with our partners at the McCourtney Institute for Democracy – an NCDD member organization – who talked about the incredible opportunity for D&D organizations to take advantage of their Nevins Democracy Leaders Program. Nearly two dozen organizations participated in the call, which marked the launch of the 2017-18 application for organizations who want to host a bright, motivated, D&D-trained student who will work with their organization for eight weeks next summer at no cost.

We are encouraging our member organizations to apply today for the chance to host a Nevins Fellow next summer! Having a Nevins Fellow work with you is like bringing on a new full-time staffer, so it’s a great way for your organization to finally take on a special project you haven’t had time for, get extra help with your big summer engagements, or increase your organizational capacity overall – all while helping bring more young people into our field and growing the next generation of D&D leaders!

Opportunities like this don’t come often or last long, so we encourage you to make sure to apply for a Nevins Fellow before the October 23rd deadline. You can find the application at http://tinyurl.com/Nevins2017.

If you haven’t heard of the Nevins program before, or are looking for a little more information, you are in luck!. You can start with the Frequently Asked Questions document that McCourtney created for potential applicants. We also had an informative discussion on the Confab Call with Chris Beem from the McCourtney Institute, who covered lots of the important details about the program, and you can listen to the recording of that call by clicking here. You can also get a better sense of what the program experience is like from the student’s perspective by checking out this blog post from a 2017 Nevins Fellow about their summer fellowship with the the Jefferson Center.

We can’t speak highly enough about the Nevins program’s students who applicants will have the chance to work with or about the value of this program’s contributions to the D&D field. We know that these young people will add enormously to the organizations they work with and that this program is helping secure the future of our field – a wonderful testament to vision of the program founder and NCDD member David Nevins. We encourage you to apply today!

Don’t Miss the Sept. 20th Nevins Fellowship Confab Call

As we announced last month, NCDD is hosting a special Confab Call with the McCourtney Institute for Democracy and Healthy Democracy next Wednesday, September 20th from 1-2pm Eastern / 10-11am Pacific. The call is the best place to learn more about this incredible opportunity to have a D&D trained student come work with your organization at no-cost, so we strongly encourage the NCDD network to register today!

Confab bubble image

During the call, NCDD Member and McCourtney’s Managing Director Christopher Beem will provide an overview of the Nevins Democracy Leaders Program and its aims, discuss the training that the future fellows are going through, and share more about how your organization can take advantage of this great chance to help cultivate the next generation of D&D leaders while getting more support for your work – all for FREE! We’ll also be joined by NCDD Member Robin Teater of Healthy Democracy, who will share her experiences hosting a fellow this summer.

NCDD is proud to have partnered the last couple years with the McCourtney Institute to help identify organizations in the field that can host Nevins fellows, and we’re continuing the exciting partnership this year. You can get a better sense of what the program experience is like by checking out this blog post from a 2017 Nevins Fellow about their summer fellowship with NCDD Sponsoring Member The Jefferson Center.

This is a rare and competitive opportunity for leading organizations in our field, and this Confab Call will be one of the best ways to find out more about how your group can take advantage of this program, so make sure to register today to save your spot on the call! We look forward to talking with you more then!

Submit Your Nominations for the 2017 Civvys Awards

It’s important to recognize the work people are already doing in civic engagement to make strides toward improving the world around them. Which is why we are excited to announce the first-ever American Civic Collaboration Awards which honor the individuals and organizations who work in collaboration to improve their community and their nation. The Civvys are presented by NCDD member org, The Bridge Alliance and Big Tent Nation, and will be determined by a panel of civic engagement experts. Submit your nominations by Sept 15, 2017 and the winner will be announced October 20, 2017 at the National Conference on Citizenship in Washington DC.

We encourage you to read the details on The Civvys below or read the original version here.


The 2017 Civvys American Civic Collaboration Awards

In a nation awash in divisiveness, there’s a profound need to recognize individuals and organizations who work together across differences for the best of their communities and this nation.

That’s why the Bridge Alliance and Big Tent Nation, organizations committed to the grapple against partisan rancor and division, have joined forces to announce the first annual American Civic Collaboration Awards, or the Civvys.

NOMINATION

Do you know people or organizations working together to address what divides us? Does their work:

  • Have a direct impact on America at a local, state or national level?
  • Use collaboration, community input and other collective action principles to make a difference?
  • Embody civility and mutual respect?

The Civvy Awards are thefirst national awards program designed to highlight organizations and individuals that leverage collaboration as a key strength in building initiatives that improve communities.

Whether it’s a grassroots neighborhood group working to bring people together, a nonprofit program to improve educational outcomes, a city government outreach initiative, or a corporation working with local leaders – we’re looking forward to celebrating projects of all sizes and types that utilize collective action best practices.

ABOUT THE CIVVYS

Driven by a panel of civic engagement experts, including former members of Congress, senior managers from top foundations and political thought leaders, the Civvys will highlight best practices in collective action that put community and nation before party, ideology, and narrow interests.

In an era of division and gridlock, it’s more important than ever to celebrate and support organizations that work together to improve America.

By recognizing projects and processes that emphasize collaboration, civility and on-the-ground impact, the Civvys are a powerful means to honor this work and inspire more of it.

The awardees will be celebrated in a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on October 20, 2017 at the National Conference on Citizenship, a distinguished event that brings together the best minds in civic engagement

Distinguished review committee members include:

Mickey Edwards, Aspen Institute
Betsy Hawkings, Democracy Fund
Peter Levine, Tufts University
David Sawyer, Converge for Impact

You can find the original version of the Bridge Alliance and Big Tent Nation announcement at www.civvys.org/.

Opportunity to Facilitate Ben Franklin Circles

We are excited to announce that NCDD is working with New York’s 92nd Street Y to support, The Ben Franklin Circles (BFC), a project in collaboration with Citizen University and the Hoover Institution. BFC – an NCDD member org, could use some facilitation support and that’s where NCDD comes in –  we have an exciting opportunity for you!

The Circles are inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s junto or “mutual improvement club,” – a sort of civic engagement support group the founding father started and ran for over 40 years.  In this 21st Century reboot, small groups of people get together once a month to reflect on big themes that Franklin identified as key to living a good life and creating a good society – topics like Industry/Work; Justice; Moderation; Thrift/Frugality and more.  There are 13 total.  Participants are encouraged to think about how these principles impact their own lives and how they shape our society, using the conversations as a way to create empathy and strengthen community bonds. Read more about the Circles in our Resource Center.

Here is the opportunity: 92Y has created a platform and toolkit and is offering limited stipends for facilitators to help lead these conversations in their communities. Circles meet once a month for 13 months for about 90 minutes each session. Meetings can be scheduled based on the facilitator’s schedule. 

This is a great opportunity for you to utilize this model, connect with groups in your community, and get paid for your time as well! NCDD would love to see a whole bunch of you get involved with Circles across the country. It’s another great way we can work to strengthen community connections and help people bridge divides, at this particularly divisive time in our nation. And many of you have the networks with interest in these kinds of conversations!

If you are interested in this opportunity and would like to connect with organizers to learn more, please fill out this quick form here and they will contact you to discuss this opportunity further! 

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

NCDD Sponsor Shares Nevins Fellow Experience

NCDD has been part of the ongoing effort by Penn State’s McCourtney Institute for Democracy, to connect students from their Nevins Democracy Leaders Program to internships with individuals and organizations in the D&D, public engagement field. Which is why we are excited to share this blog piece from NCDD sponsor org The Jefferson Center about their recent intern’s experience working on the Minnesota Community Assembly Project. The Nevins Democracy Leaders Program is an incredible opportunity to host a D&D-trained student at no cost for two months during the summer.  You can learn more about the Nevins Democracy Leaders Program by checking out our earlier write-ups on the blog here and by listening to the Confab Call recording here.

We encourage you to read the Jefferson Center blog post below and you can find the original version on their site here.


The Minnesota Community Assemblies: Red Wing

This June and July the Jefferson Center hosted a Penn State student, Emma Rohan, made possible by Penn State’s Nevins Fellows program. Emma’s academic work focuses on education policy, and she came to us with experience in the field of deliberative democracy. While she was here, we were grateful for Emma’s support in the first of three Minnesota Community Assemblies — Red Wing. Below is Emma’s reflection on the experience.

It’s been an exciting and engaging start to the Minnesota Community Assembly Project (MNCAP)! This project, part of our Democratic Innovation Program, began in Red Wing over the course of three weekends. On Friday, June 9, participants gathered in the Red Wing Ignite event room, brimming with expectation and more than a little caffeine.

Eight full days of deliberation is a lot of work and commitment, but the thirty-six Red Wing citizens were in it for the long haul. Before they got down to business, participants had the chance to introduce themselves to their neighbors by sharing what they are sacrificing in order to be present at the Citizens Assembly. Taking care of children, enjoying free weekends with family, and going to work are just a few of the activities that participants agreed to forgo for this eight-day project, acknowledging that engaging in citizen-led democracy sometimes involves personal sacrifice.

These participants, randomly selected to reflect the demographics of their community, set out to learn about local government, discuss strengths and areas for improvement, identify the values underpinning good local government, and explore and recommend opportunities to ensure their local government reflects these values.

Participants learned about local government structures from experts around the globe – from Minnesota to Australia. Each equipped with a tablet, participants could vote on their preferred alternatives while visual representations of the results revealed themselves on the big screen. Bonds were forged as citizens helped each other navigate the digital voting system on their tablets.

During the second weekend, June 23-25, two guests joined the assembly in Red Wing to observe, though neither were new to the process. In the case of Ned Crosby, the founder of the Jefferson Center, this was an opportunity to see old processes in a new setting. As the creator of the Citizens Jury process in the United States, Dr. Crosby took the backseat this time, taking note of participation dynamics and exchanging ideas with our other guest observer, Neall Ireland.

A participant in a Canadian province-wide Citizens Assembly in British Columbia in 2004, Neil was captivated by the experience and makes it a habit to seek out opportunities to watch other assemblies in action around the globe: “I really enjoyed observing the Citizen’s Jury; found it particularly interesting to see how there is a common theme for in this type of process for the participants. It is my thought when educated to the issues and empowered, citizen participation truly is the most effective method of engagement and means to making impactful decisions for a constituency. I admire each of the individuals who have come forward to donate their time and contribute to their communities in a meaningful way. I am certain that each of the three communities engaged in the this process will move forward from it in a positive way and be a great example for other communities in the future.”

As the process moved along, time revealed that even cohesive and unified communities carry underlying tension. Discussions on participation responsibilities and representation in local government sparked contention, and the facilitated conversation unearthed divergent expectations and assumptions between community members. With careful attention paid to group dynamics and how a deliberation space may advantage some and silence others, it was refreshing to notice participants sort out their disagreements themselves over a snack break.

Citizens Juries aimed at the prospect of equipping people to evaluate the structure of their local governments and the platform to recommend changes is an undertaking which requires special consideration toward the role of the facilitator. As outsiders in a tight-knit community, the Jefferson Center team realizes the value of presentation of unbiased materials, giving participants space to share and respond to each other, and knowing when to step in to move the conversation along. Even so, navigating uncharted territory comes with miscalculations and oversights. End-of-the-day surveys gave participants the opportunity to share their feedback on the content and process of the event from a facilitation standpoint, and changes were incorporated in order to steer the group in the right direction.

The final weekend in Red Wing presented some of the largest challenges yet, while simultaneously inspiring some of the greatest displays of individual hard work and collective responsibility. With the deadline for the final recommendation by the Community Assembly fast approaching, participants worked together to craft their final recommendations and supporting statements, the report representing the culmination of their work together. Decisions about the presentation of the report were far from unanimous, and even after eight-hour days of deliberation, citizens in Red Wing stayed overtime to continue the discussion.

The Red Wing Community Assembly’s vision statement highlights some of the qualities of local government participants agreed were indispensable: “Our community needs a clear strategic vision, with leadership committed to working toward that vision. We’d like to see broad community participation, engagement, and communication – all aspects of transparency – to ensure community members are informed and engaged in developing and implementing our strategic vision and holding leadership accountable.” To accomplish this vision, the assembly advocated for a few alternatives to the status quo, such as ranked-choice voting, stronger financial disclosure requirements , better public meetings, and digital public engagement. It is important to note that support for these recommendations was not unanimous, and citizens had the opportunity to express their personal dissent or further recommendations by submitting a personal statement attached to the final report. See the final report in its entirety here.

By the end of our time in Red Wing, we couldn’t help but notice a renewed sense of ownership and personal stake in many of the citizens toward the governance of their communities. Several people shared new commitments they have undertaken since the Community Assembly got underway: people described their conversations with family and friends about the work they’ve done, several participants mentioned applying for local boards and commissions for the first time, and one participant even wrote a Letter to the Editor in the local newspaper. Regardless of the outcome, the value of forging these types of relationships between communities and their local governments cannot be overstated.

We are enthusiastic about the ways Red Wing will carry on this work beyond the formal process of the Community Assembly and into the community as a whole. One down, with Willmar and Brooklyn Park on deck!

You can find the original version of the Jefferson Center blog post at www.jefferson-center.org/red-wing-summary/.

NCDD Members Win Big in Bridge Alliance Grant Competition

In case you missed it, we wanted to highlight the fact the a total of nine different NCDD member organizations were awarded grants as part of first round of the Bridge Alliance‘s Collective Impact competition. We think having so many NCDD members win grants in a competition aimed at helping transpartisan groups “to better collaborate on ways to fix political processes on the local, state, and national levels” is a huge testament to the powerful work that our network does. We invite you to join us in congratulating Bring it to the TableDavenport Institute, Essential Partners, Healthy Democracy, Institute for Local GovernmentLiving Room Conversations, National Institute for Civil DiscoursePublic Agenda, Village Square, and all of the other winners!
You can learn more in the Bridge Alliance’s announcement below (we’ve marked the NCDD member orgs with an asterisk) or find the original here.


The Bridge Alliance Collective Impact $500,000 Grant First-Round Projects, March 2017

Recognizing that organizations cannot effectively bridge the broad political divide alone, the Bridge Alliance is awarding up to $1 million in Collective Impact grants in 2017 to enable our member organizations to better collaborate on ways to fix political processes on the local, state and national levels. We are pleased to announce today the awarding of more than $525,000 in inaugural grants, to be shared by two dozen Bridge Alliance member organizations.

These joint projects will help members implement and test innovative approaches in our Alliance’s three core areas: expanding civic engagement and participation; improving governance; and reforming campaign and election processes. The programs are designed to generate tools, ideas and best practices for all Bridge Alliance members to use and to multiply the impact of each group’s work.

Additional grants will be awarded later this year, financed in partnership with Invest American Fund and others.

GOVERNANCE 

  • Improve the workings of state legislatures nationwide bybringingtogether legislators from across the country to study how to talk with others with opposing views and how to reach policy decisions without or with minimum acrimony.

Collaborating Bridge Alliance members: National Institute for Civil Discourse*; State Legislative Leaders Foundation; National Foundation of Women Legislators.  Grant amount: $50,000 in two phases.

  • Make local government meetings and decision making more effective by distributing a toolkit to make public meetings more productive and guide how people inside and outside of local government perceive and communicate with each other.

Collaborating Bridge Alliance members: Public Agenda*; Cities of Service; Institute of Local Government*. Grant amount: $45,000

CIVIC PARTICIPATION & ENGAGEMENT

  • Help people and groups find opposing forces who are willing to talk and stimulate dialogue between those of differing viewpoints by creating an online “matchmaking site” to help divergent Bridge Association members and others find each other for open conversations on difficult issues.

Collaborating Bridge Alliance members: AllSides, Living Room Conversations*, Digital Citizen. Grant amount: $65,000

  • Find out if voters can make better-informed decisions on initiatives and referenda, by expanding and testing new Citizen Initiative Review Panels’ voter information guides in a California demonstration project.

Collaborating Bridge Alliance members: Public Agenda*, Davenport Institute*, Healthy Democracy*. Grant amount: $60,000

  • Enable open conversation between leaders and groups with diverging views, with a test project in Utah to train civil discourse facilitators who will lead and teach others how to find common ground for discussion.

Collaborating Bridge Alliance members: Essential Partners*, Living Room Conversations*, Village Square*. Grant amount: $45,000

  • Improve government decision making and civic participation by better informing people of government procedures, successes and roadblocks, by creating, testing and distributing a new series of radio, TV and webcasts.

Collaborating Bridge Alliance members: AllSides, Living Room Conversations*, Bring it to the Table*, Coffee Party. Grant amount: $38,000

  • >Harness the power of social media to showcase positive acts of governing instead of just the negative, through research, tests and the participation of social media experts and companies

Collaborating Bridge Alliance members: Civil Politics, Living Room Conversations*, Village Square*. Grant amount: $25,000

  • Create a new model for Americans of different backgrounds and beliefs to come together in face-to-face conversations, with social media tools and guidelines to allow all Bridge Member groups, other organizations, and individuals to organize powerful “circles” and moderated dinners for cross-party dialogue and civil debate.

Collaborating Bridge Alliance members: 92Y, Village Square*. Grant amount: $90,000 in two phases

CAMPAIGNS AND ELECTIONS

  • Educate voters where new election processes are in place or under consideration, such as open primaries and ranked choice voting.

Collaborating Bridge Alliance members: Fair Vote, Open Primaries, Reconsider Media, Independent Voter Project. Grant amount: $35,000

  • Encourage and enable more people to run for public office, with social and other media outreach to potential candidates and the public at large, to foster a more representative, responsive, and functional government.

Collaborating Bridge Alliance members: Centrist Project, Independent Voting.org, Represent.Us. Grant amount: $60,000

You can find the original version of this Bridge Alliance announcement at http://www.bridgealliance.us/collective_impact1.

EvDem Offers $10K Award for Leadership in Democracy

We want encourage our network to consider submitting a nomination for the new $10K leadership award being offered by NCDD member organization Everyday Democracy. This new award can be granted to anyone 16 or older whose work embodies the values EvDem’s work reflects, but the deadline for nominations is June 15, so don’t wait too long! You can learn more about the award criteria and how to submit a nomination in the EvDem announcement below or find the original announcement here.


Announcing the Paul and Joyce Aicher Leadership in Democracy Award

EvDem LogoWe are pleased to announce the first annual Paul and Joyce Aicher Leadership in Democracy Award. This $10,000 award will be given to an individual and/or organization that demonstrates the values on which Everyday Democracy was founded – voice, connection, racial equity, and community change.

For more than 25 years, Everyday Democracy has worked in communities across the country to foster a strong and vibrant democracy – one that is characterized by strong relationships across divides, leadership development, lifting up the voices of all people, and celebrating racial equity.

Paul and Joyce Aicher’s generosity and creative genius have had a profound impact on individuals and organizations in every part of this country. Their passion and diligent effort inspired the dialogue guides, organizing and facilitating training, and community coaching that Everyday Democracy is so well known for delivering.

Through this award, we will recognize the work of individuals and/or organizations across the U.S. for outstanding achievement in creating opportunities for people to talk to and listen to each other, work together for equitable communities, and help create a democracy that works for everyone.

Download an information sheet about the award (PDF).

A brief history of Paul and Joyce Aicher

Paul J. Aicher’s motto, “Don’t just stand there, do something,” marked all that he did. Before founding the Study Circles Resource Center (now called Everyday Democracy) in 1989, he was a model for civic engagement. Shortly after graduating from Penn State, he participated in a discussion course which helped him find his voice in civic life and sparked his lifelong interest in helping others find their own. He saw a direct connection between his early experiences as a participant and a facilitator and his later vision for embedding these kinds of opportunities into American political life and culture.

Throughout his life, he spent his free time volunteering. Early in their marriage, he and his wife Joyce got involved with a refugee resettlement project in Illinois; Paul then served as president of the North Shore Human Relations Council. Back in Pennsylvania in the mid-1960s, he started the World Affairs Council of Berks County and led his neighbors in discussions of the “Great Decisions” guides published by the Foreign Policy Association. Through his long-time work and friendship with Homer Jack, an American Unitarian Universalist clergyman and social activist, Paul developed a passion for racial justice and international peace, both of which would inspire his later social action.

In the 1970s, he devoted his energies to launching his company Technical Materials and raising four children with Joyce. But he always returned to activism. In the early 1980s, after moving to Pomfret, Connecticut, Paul joined the local anti-nuclear freeze movement. In 1982, he formed the Topsfield Foundation, which was renamed The Paul J. Aicher Foundation after Paul’s passing in 2002. It began with making grants to advance a number of causes: affordable housing; educating and engaging the public on international security issues; and networking grass-roots peace and justice groups across the U.S. As it became an operating foundation, it focused all of its efforts on its current mission – to strengthen deliberative democracy and improve the quality of life in the United States. In the past twenty-five years, it has been best known through the work of its primary project, Everyday Democracy, which supports communities across the U.S. in implementing Paul’s vision of public dialogue that enables everyone to have a voice and be heard.

Joyce shared Paul’s commitment to civic engagement, community activism, and social justice. With her quiet strength and humor, she often worked behind the scenes to make the work of the Foundation possible. She also strengthened the local community through her numerous volunteer efforts. She and Paul shared a love of nature, books, and the arts and were self-effacing advocates of democratic values. Joyce passed away in 2016.

Who is eligible for the award?

Individuals 16 years of age and older, coalitions, and organizations conducting projects in the U.S. are eligible to be nominated. Current Everyday Democracy employees and Board members are excluded from being nominated.

Award criteria

The award will honor work that embodies Paul and Joyce Aicher’s values, such as the following:

  • Creating welcoming opportunities for meaningful civic participation for all people
  • Actively including people in civic life who have often been marginalized, and providing ways for them to develop their leadership capacities
  • Building the capacity of existing community leaders to include others in community life
  • Practicing the art of talking to each other and listening to each other
  • Taking action that is grounded in crossing divides, and aimed at meaningful transformation in people, institutions, community culture, and governance
  • Creating opportunities for empowered voice that is truly heard
  • Addressing racial inequities through dialogue and collective action
  • Showing the power of bridging all kinds of divides
  • Making dialogue a regular part of how a community works and, ultimately, of how our democracy works

Nomination process

Anyone may nominate any person or organization that meets the criteria for this award. Click here for the nomination form, which must be received by 5 pm EST on June 15, 2017. You will need to provide contact information for yourself and your nominee, a short summary of their work, and a 500-1,000 word essay describing why you think they should receive the award.

Once Everyday Democracy receives a nomination, we will reach out to the individual or organization to let them know they were nominated and to ask if they would like to supplement the form with additional information for the committee to review. Submissions will be evaluated by a panel put together by Everyday Democracy.

Once a final decision is made, the winner and others will be notified during the month of August. They will be publicly recognized at a reception later in the year.

You can find the original version of this Everyday Democracy announcement at www.everyday-democracy.org/news/announcing-paul-and-joyce-aicher-leadership-democracy-award.

Winner of the 2017 Taylor L. Willingham Award Announced

Every year, the National Issues Forums Institute – one of our NCDD member orgs – gives out the Taylor L. Willingham Legacy Award in support of people advancing the work of deliberative democracy and in honor of the memory of our friend Taylor and her work in the field. We invite you to join us in congratulationg Lauren Gabbard of Kentucky who won the 2017 award. You can read more about Lauren’s work and the award in the NIFI announcement below or find the original here.


Lauren Gabbard is Recipient of Taylor L. Willingham Legacy Fund Award

Lauren Gabbard, an AmeriCorps VISTA member with Kentucky Campus Compact, is the 2017 recipient of the Taylor L. Willingham Legacy Award. She is developing an understanding of deliberative democracy and plans to moderate four forums in 2017. She is also helping to build the capacity for a statewide democratic deliberation movement in Kentucky, called the Kentucky Network for Public Life. Read on to learn more about Lauren and her plans.

Lauren Gabbard is an AmeriCorps VISTA serving with Kentucky Campus Compact. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Economics from Northern Kentucky University. Lauren’s dedication to community, justice, and diversity motivated her to serve with AmeriCorps, where she is currently working on a statewide democratic deliberation movement called the Kentucky Network for Public Life.

Lauren developed a passion for democratic deliberation after attending the 2016 West Virginia Civic Life Institute. As a young leader and activist, she connected with the idea of engaging community members to have conversations and take active roles in shaping their future together. As a queer woman, Lauren especially values the way dialogue can be used to discuss issues within oppressed communities and with the wider community to build relationships.

As the recipient of the Taylor L. Willingham Legacy Fund award, Lauren plans to moderate four dialogues in the coming months. She is partnering with Dr. Tracy Lu, of the University of Kentucky, and her Hospitality and Event Management students to host the first three “What’s Next, Kentucky?” conversations. Members of the campus and community will meet to discuss Kentucky’s future, considering three main questions: Where are we now? Where do we want to go? How are we going to get there? Lauren also plans to moderate a National Issues Forum at Northern Kentucky University this spring. These conversations are all part of the statewide initiative to support dialogue and deliberation, the Kentucky Network for Public Life.

If you’d like more information about the Kentucky Network for Public Life or “What’s Next, Kentucky?” you can reach Lauren at Lauren.Gabbard@kycompact.org.

You can find the original version of this NIFI blog post at www.nifi.org/en/lauren-gabbard-recipient-taylor-l-willingham-legacy-fund-award.

Harwood Institute Opens New Studio on Community

The team at The Harwood Institute – an NCDD member organization – recently announced an exciting new initiative that they are calling the Studio on Community, and they are looking for two associates to help launch its work. The Studio will dig into work that we are sure many in our network would thrive in, so we wanted to share about the initiative and the opportunity here on the blog. We encourage you to read the announcement from Harwood below or or find the original here.


Rich Harwood’s New Studio on Community Announced

Rich Harwood, president and founder of The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, is creating a studio within The Harwood Institute to support special efforts to advance new ideas for strengthening communities and society in a rapidly changing world. He is looking for two studio associates to begin work this year.

The studio will explore topics such as:

  • The emergence and meaning of a new American narrative;
  • The importance of belief and a can-do spirit in moving communities and countries forward;
  • New mechanisms and spaces for bridging societal divides and engaging individuals in collective efforts;
  • A new approach to shared responsibility in communities;
  • The role of civic rituals in society; and
  • The renewed role for the human element in civic and political affairs.

The Studio Concept

Studios have long existed as a combination workshop and space where the act of reflection can merge with acts of production. Studios have been filled with associates who both seek to contribute to those efforts, while developing their own ideas and skills. Located within the Institute, the studio will allow Rich and a high-performing team of individuals the opportunity to innovate together, as well as advance and incubate new ideas, projects, and initiatives.

Studio Associate Position Description

This is a tremendous opportunity for individuals who are seeking an intense, purpose-driven experience, who want to be part of a larger effort to advance new ideas for communities and society, particularly at a time of growing division and inwardness throughout the U.S. and elsewhere. Studio associates will work directly with Rich, a national leader whose practice, methods, ideas and approaches have helped shape the field of civic and community change for nearly 30 years.

Studio associates will support Rich in:

  • Developing a series of new groundbreaking books, including conducting research, interviews, compiling background materials, and serving as a thought partner and sounding board.
  • Creating new ways to spread critical ideas emerging from the studio, including new articles, special reports and projects. Specific work would include drafting ideas and materials for written pieces; researching content and ideas for possible convenings; and developing concepts for new delivery mechanisms like podcasts, innovative collateral, and new courses.

You can read the original version of this Harwood Institute announcement and find details on applying for the studio associate position at www.theharwoodinstitute.org/news/2017/3/16/rich-harwoods-new-studio-on-community-announced.