On March 17, 2020, the National Civic League announced the finalists of the 2020 All-America City Award (AAC). Each of the finalist communities demonstrated civic engagement practices that are inspirational, inclusive and promising in their ability to unite members of the community to collectively and collaboratively help solve our country’s most pressing and complex issues. This year’s finalists focused specifically on enhancing health and well-being through civic engagement.
Learn more about the 2020 All-America City Award Finalists
The Live Algoma initiative, powered by the Algoma School District, was created in response to a brain drain from the community. Local businesses were calling for better skilled workers and high school graduates were leaving Algoma in search of better education, training and employment opportunities. The Algoma School District partnered with local manufacturers to create a plan that would engage the youth, educate them, ignite their passion, and provide professional opportunities. In the years since, Live Algoma has resulted in highlighted projects such as: Wolf Tech, a Community Wellness Center and Wolf Den.
Read more about Algoma’s featured projects.
Aurora’s culture of collaboration can be seen best in the city’s community-based problem solving. Virtually all problems in the city are addressed by involving relevant stakeholders, building consensus among all stakeholders, and then harnessing the collective power of the group to meet the goal. Through the diversity of opinions, knowledge and strengths, Aurora is unified in its efforts to think strategically and create a high quality of life for its residents.
Read more about Aurora’s featured projects.
Belleville’s vision for the future is one where the community works together to prosper and become a model for other communities. To accomplish this vision, the city takes lessons learned from the past and melds them with new and innovative ideas to make Belleville a better place to live, work, and play. The Community Development Network (CDN) increases collaboration with citizens, social and civic organizations, churches, schools, the business community, local government, and more. Working committees from this network were formed to address issues such as inclusion, health and wellness and homelessness.
Read more about Belleville’s featured projects.
After falling in annual health rankings over the years, the City of Danville formed The Health Collaborative (THC) to take a long-term approach to addressing the community’s health needs. collaborative members participated in idea-generating activities, reviewed existing data, evidence and case studies, went on site visits to other communities, conducted focus groups, and prioritized strategies.The City of Danville has aligned its goals and investment strategy with the goals of The Health Collaborative. These steps form the basis of Danville’s three highlighted projects.
Read more about Danville’s featured projects.
The City of Douglasville, like many other towns and cities, was hit particularly hard by the economic downturn of 2008. Since this time, city staff has been working hard to make a transformative change to make up the ground lost during the recession and it was imperative that the residents be included in the process. Focus groups and steering committees made up of city residents and stakeholders were assembled to provide input on planning projects that will achieve the city’s transformative goals.
These plans and the projects highlighted are examples of how the city has worked tirelessly to create a culture of engagement and to break down the barriers between itself and the citizens that they serve.
Read more about Douglasville’s featured projects.
El Paso, TX
Time and again, the people of El Paso have come together – unified and determined in resolving its challenges and rising to support its regional and international neighbors in overcoming extreme adversity and realizing far-reaching and mutually beneficial goals. As evidenced in these highlighted projects, El Paso is a community of excellence, progress, and unwavering resilience.
Read more about El Paso’s featured projects.
Franklin is bringing the community together to authentically reflect on its history, even the hardest aspects related to the experiences of African Americans before, during, and after the Civil War. With an eye towards the future, Franklin supports healthy lifestyles for residents of all ages and abilities and seeks to destigmatize mental health issues. Their inclusive approach to addressing the past and planning for the future can be seen in their featured projects.
Read more about Franklin’s featured projects.
One Harlingen—a comprehensive plan arrived at through extensive resident and stakeholder engagement—means a united community of residents pursuing a better quality of life. This is accomplished through improved parks based on civic engagement, through the Mayor’s Wellness Council promoting wellness and health, and through improved access to college and technical training for young people.
Read more about Harlingen’s featured projects.
Highland Park, IL
Civic engagement is an invaluable and crucial component of the decision-making process in the City of Highland Park, and residents have a variety of opportunities to get involved and shape the future of the community. To participate in an official capacity, residents can volunteer to serve on one of the city’s 18 commissions, boards, and advisory groups to provide recommendations to the city council. The city also facilitates communication and initiates community discussions about important issues on a regular basis and as new initiatives or concerns arise. Finally, the city cultivates a vibrant community culture and fosters bonds between neighbors through outreach programs and events that encourage investment in the city’s future.
Read more about Highland Park’s featured projects.
A group of stakeholders looking to spur economic growth in Hopkinsville selected a vision plan steering committee, raised $70,000 in funding through community donations, and hired a consulting firm to guide and facilitate a visioning process. The steering committee worked to promote the plan process widely and broadly throughout the community via focus group meetings, one-on-one interviews and paper and online surveys; feedback was used to establish four primary goals. Interested community members were invited to join task groups developed around each of the four goals to set benchmarks for advancement and work toward measurable progress in each area.
The engagement in this visioning process laid the groundwork for many improvements, detailed in Hopkinsville’s featured projects.
Read more about Hopkinsville’s featured projects.
The City of Logansport collectively pushed its reset button in 2016 with a robust community visioning process. Consultants from two universities drove the process forward with two community co-chairs and a broad-based steering committee whose membership reflected a range of participants from high school students to senior citizens. A community-wide survey generated 1,994 responses and several community meetings were held to provide a vision for Logansport’s future. This process produced a shared community vision that continues to pay dividends and was the catalyst for Logansport’s featured projects.
Read more about Logansport’s featured projects.
Mason City, IA
Mason City Iowa is known as the original ‘River City’ and was the inspiration for the town in composer Meredith Willson’s Broadway hit musical The Music Man. Mason City began experiencing “Trouble… With a Capital ‘T’” when an economic downturn forced several closures in downtown. To address this ‘trouble,’ the community came together to establish a regional strategic plan. This inclusive effort drew from the input of key partner organizations. The plan provided a blueprint for Mason’s City’s revitalization and featured projects.
Read more about Mason City’s featured projects.
Miami Gardens, FL
Since its incorporated in 2003, Miami Gardens has made significant strides to provide superior services designed to enhance public safety and improve the overall quality of life, while exercising sound stewardship through open government and active civic, business and resident involvement. Highlighted projects show how the community has addressed health disparities and improved overall health and well-being for all residents.
Read more about Miami Gardens’ featured projects.
Miami Lakes, FL
The Town of Miami Lakes, incorporated in December 2000, is one of the youngest municipalities in Miami-Dade County. With 30,000 residents and 1,700 businesses, The Town Council’s initiatives are directly focused on encouraging civic engagement, collaboration, and inclusiveness. Beginning in 2001, the Town of Miami Lakes introduced 11 volunteer committees to address the challenges the community faces and to plan future initiatives. Last year, these committees hosted a total of 227 special town events to help achieve their goals of helping Miami Lakes grow beautifully. As the town grows, it continues to strive for innovation and engagement, while remaining true to its original founders’ vision of providing the highest quality of life for its residents and visitors.
Read more about Miami Lakes’ featured projects.
A decade ago, a diverse group of citizens came together to chart a course toward a common future that reflected Muncie Indiana’s shared values and aspirations. Over 2,000 residents participated in facilitated conversations designed to answer the question, “What is needed for Muncie to be the best it can be in the coming years?” This initiated a time of collaboration between key stakeholders resulting in the Muncie Action Plan (MAP) report which created a compelling agenda for the future. Muncie continues to work toward becoming a community that respects diversity, manages resources effectively, and efficiently, and works together to provide an attractive, desirable place for individuals, families, and businesses. The three projects highlighted were launched under the MAP umbrella.
Read more about Muncie’s featured projects.
Identified in Pitt County’s common mission is an intentional commitment to engage people to determine their needs and to implement solutions. From the community health needs assessment, to comprehensive master plans, to appointments to boards and commissions, to establishing health priorities, the county listens intently to the voices of residents.
Using these resident voices, Pitt County identifies, develops and targets initiatives that connect community members with resources that improve health and well-being.
Read more about Pitt County’s featured projects.
The disruption caused by deindustrialization and depopulation in Portsmouth effected economic stability, as well as the larger social order, making it vulnerable to a variety of social problems.
Portsmouth was hit hard by the Opioid Epidemic, ultimately being identified as the epicenter. Despite the severity of the problems brought on by the epidemic, Portsmouth has turned to the strength of its community to fight back. The highlighted projects show how Portsmouth has been able to critically examine and improve existing social institutions and relations to ensure the community is truly supportive and inclusive of all its members.
Read more about Portsmouth’s featured projects.
Rancho Cucamonga, CA
The Rancho Cucamonga City Council established Healthy RC as a comprehensive system of interconnected planning, program, policy, and partnership efforts that work across sectors to promote community health and equity. The initiative was established as a genuine partnership of government, community agencies, and grass-roots residents who collectively identify their community’s health challenges and work collaboratively to address them. Healthy RC led to several programs, including those highlighted, designed to improve health and well-being.
Read more about Rancho Cucamonga’s featured projects.
Roanoke’s civic infrastructure is focused on making a “collective impact” enabling it to effectively address complex issues by employing grassroots, collaborative, data driven, evidence-based and comprehensive framework. This approach established nationally recognized programs such as an early childhood learning initiative, addressing the opioid crisis and enhancing access to health care. Roanoke organizers have abandoned an “organizational driven approach” in favor of a “community activation approach.” Leaders from Roanoke’s government, healthcare and nonprofit agencies practice more effective resident engagement collectively creating better conditions of health and well-being.
The depth and effectiveness of Roanoke’s civic infrastructure is evidenced in their highlighted projects.
Read more about Roanoke’s featured projects.
In the spirit of its innovative heritage, Rochester continues to look for creative and inclusive paths forward that embrace collaborative engagement and decision-making. A recent model of civic engagement culminated last year as the city unveiled the Rochester 2034 Comprehensive Plan, a culmination of nearly two years of Rochesterians coming together to dream about their future. Non-profits, corporations, local businesses, residents, city staff, elected officials and advocacy groups contributed to the plan, and are now collaborating on its implementation.
Read more about Rochester’s featured projects.
Team Sumter is proudly represented by a diverse group of individuals from all areas of the community. This entire team plays an integral role in the overall health, safety, and welfare of the community with initiatives ranging from community beautification to more complex social problems.
The city uses formal and informal processes to identify common goals and solutions to help meet diverse community needs. As shown in their highlighted projects, Team Sumter has made it a priority to include traditionally marginalized populations as it works towards an improved quality of life for all residents.
Read more about Sumter’s featured projects.
Topeka has a long history of inclusion, diversity and civic engagement. Recognizing the need to build from the legacy of its past, leaders in Topeka developed a strategy to guide community action. The Momentum 2022 Strategy establishes what Topeka-Shawnee County must do to measurably improve access to opportunity for all people and organizations to experience increased hope, health, happiness, and prosperity. The highlighted projects show that they are well on their way to meeting these goals.
Read more about Topeka’s featured projects.
The All-America City awards are an awards ceremony and networking event unlike any other! Through concrete examples, interactive discussions, and finalist presentations – you will walk away with the knowledge, skills, contacts, and inspiration you need to better strengthen your community.
The award, given to 10 communities each year, celebrates and recognizes neighborhoods, villages, towns, cities, counties, tribes and regions that engage residents in innovative, inclusive and effective efforts to tackle critical challenges.
These finalist communities are building local capacity to solve problems and improve their quality of life. The National Civic League is honored to recognize these communities, and views their efforts as critical in addressing the challenge to communities issued by the 1968 Kerner Commission, ‘to make good the promises of American democracy to all citizens – urban and rural, white, black, Spanish surname, American Indians, and every minority group.'” – The National Civic League’s President, Doug Linkhart
Communities have found civic strength and growth as a result of winning the award and gain a better understanding of civic excellence through the year-long application process. In applying communities reflect on their strengths, weaknesses, challenges and the progress they have made.Learn How To Apply