Around the country, communities are working to remove barriers for students to help their youth create a path to success. National Civic League is proud to announce that in 2016, the All-America City Awards will highlight community efforts to: ensure that all our children are healthy and successful in school and life. Our focus includes (but is not limited to) topics such as:  attendance, health and well-being (of children, parents and community), access to and affordability of transportation, neighborhood safety, poverty, food access and nutrition, affordable housing, and healthy natural environments. Our goal with this spotlight is to raise up local examples of innovative and effective community problem-solving that recognizes all influences on the success of children and uses all sectors to address those influences. Simply put, if your program supports young people and makes it more likely that they will be able to succeed in school and life, you should consider applying.

Each year, the National Civic League’s All-America City Award recognizes ten communities each year for outstanding civic accomplishments. To win, communities must demonstrate innovation, impact, inclusiveness, civic engagement, and cross-sector collaboration by describing three successful efforts to address pressing local challenges. In addition to programs that relate to the spotlight, National Civic League encourages other programs that address the unique needs of your community; examples in the past include downtown and neighborhood revitalization; fiscal sustainability; arts and culture; and environmental sustainability.

The award program culminates in a three-day event where finalist community delegations tell their stories of successful change to a national jury of business, nonprofit, and local government experts. Unlike any other conference, the All-America City Experience, provides participants with lasting connections with community members and peers across the country, in-depth learning opportunities, and fun, energizing evening events!

The All-America City Award program has recognized communities since 1949.  NCL believe communities are strongest when all residents are able to fully participate, therefore, the Award is given to the whole community and not one individual or group. Community can be identified as a city, neighborhood, tribe, county or entire region. The All-America City Award does not honor perfection. NCL acknowledges that there are no perfect communities.  It does honor the progress and innovation demonstrated through the cross-sector partnerships in the three project examples.  It recognizes a community’s courage to admit to and commitment to face other existing challenges with the same spirit exhibited in the spotlighted projects. It is about moving forward and getting the hard work done collaboratively, innovatively, inclusively, and with maximum civic engagement.

The application process gives communities an opportunity to evaluate their civic infrastructure and to reach out and build new relationships in their community. Most applications involve a collaboration of local government, chamber of commerce, community foundations, the local United Way, resident groups, non-profits, students and schools, libraries and neighborhood associations.

All-America Cities benefit by increasing community pride, networking with civic activists from across the country and gaining national recognition. These communities are exposed to new ideas, especially around the spotlighted topic, and take on these new challenges back home by bolstering current programs and creating new ones to fill the existing gaps. The AAC designation has also helped communities win grants and new resources and attract new employers.

Application Timeline

November 4, 2015 prospective communities can submit a letter of intent to apply for a 50% discount on the application fee, please note that a letter of intent is not required to apply.  The application is due March 9, 2016 and the finalists will be named in early April 2016.  The finalist communities are invited to bring a delegation of people to tell their story and compete at AAC 2016 in June in Denver (date TBD).  All applicants and others interested in knowing more about the spotlight or AAC are also invited to attend the June event.

Download the 2016 All-America City Application Now

Get a sense of the incredible energy, emotion, and inspiration that is the All-America City Experience