About the All-America City Award

AAC-NCL combo logo 2014Since 1949, the National Civic League has recognized and celebrated the best in American civic innovation with the prestigious All-America City Award. The Award, bestowed yearly on 10 communities (more than 500 in all), shines a spotlight on trail-blazing efforts to bring all aspects of the community together to tackle the most pressing local issues. Teams of residents; nonprofit, business, and government leaders; and young people from communities across the country come together for 3 days. At AAC these teams connect and share insights with peers, learn from national thought-leaders, and present the story of their work to a jury of nationally recognized civic leaders.  It is a transformational experience – one that equips, inspires and supports leaders and communities to achieve more than they ever believed possible.

Celebrating and Connecting Innovative Communities

AAC brings together communities from across the country and provides an opportunity for innovative leaders and passionate citizens to connect with and learn from their peers. The Award shines a light on communities that are working to tackle tough issues and lifts these places up for national recognition.

Energizing and Inspiring Others to Step Forward

The examples set by AAC winners inspire other civic leaders and communities to step forward and take action. In the year after winning the Award, AAC communities help their peers by sharing their insights and approaches. Working with AAC winners, NCL organizes monthly conference calls highlighting winners’ work and providing opportunities for interested communities to learn how they too can create impact.


The Process

Every year communities from across the country compete for the All-America City Award, telling the story of their community and their work.

  • The process begins with downloading an application.
  • Communities can participate in monthly webinars with previous winners to learn more about the benefits of the Award, the application process, and other communities' innovative projects
  • Communities gather to discuss local efforts and their impact across the last five years.  Communities also explore their challenges, and aspirations for the future.
  • Applications are due February 28, 2018.  Communities that submit a Letter of Intent to Apply by October 28, 2017 receive a  discount on the overall application (paying $150 to apply instead of $250).
  • Applications are reviewed in March.  Finalists are announced in April and invited to assemble a community team to attend the All-America City Event in Denver.
  • The 2018 All-America City Award Event will take place June 22nd - 24th in Denver.  The event includes workshops, panel discussions, networking opportunities, cultural exchanges and community presentations to a jury of national experts.
  • 10 winners are selected - by the jury - from among the Finalists.

AAC at a Glance

  • Created in 1949, the All-America City Award –once called the “Nobel Prize for constructive citizenship”- has been awarded to more than 500 communities (some have won the award five times!) across the country.
  • 7 communities have won the Award 5 or more times including - Cleveland, OH; Des Moines, IA; Kansas City, MO; Phoenix, AZ; Roanoke, VA(6!); Tupelo, MS; and Worchester, MA;
  • The Award is open to the full diversity of American communities from major cities and regions, to towns, villages, counties, neighborhoods and tribes.
  • The 2016 All-America City Award will focus on innovative community efforts to ensure that all children are healthy and supported in school and life.
  • In applying communities reflect on their strengths, weaknesses, challenges and the progress they have made.
  • The awards conference includes workshops on promising practices.
  • Each year hundreds of leaders, volunteers and young people from the Finalist communities travel to Denver to present the story of their work and their community to a jury of national experts.
"Anyone who’s witnessed the annual All-America Cities competition has seen the evidence of what communities can do to come together, solve their problems, and set strategy for their future.”
Curtis Johnson, President, Citistates Group
"The All-America City Award continues to be the most prestigious civic award in the country.”
Mandy Pitts, Communications Director, City of Hickory, NC
“I could not begin to imagine how exciting and rewarding the All-America City Award process was until our city participated...A life-changing event."
Mike Dougherty, Director of Economic Development, Eden, NC