2024 All-America City – Lakewood, CO

The City of Lakewood, Colorado, is a vibrant and thriving community nestled between the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains and the state capital of Denver. As Colorado’s fifth largest city, Lakewood’s growth over the past decade has necessitated the city actively involving residents in shaping a shared vision for the community’s future.  

One key aspect of Lakewood’s success lies in its innovative approach to civic technology and community-centric initiatives. Over the past decade, the city has become a leader in leveraging technology to engage the community and keep residents informed. Tools such as Lakewood Together and Lakewood Speaks showcase a commitment to transparency and the elimination of barriers to civic engagement.  

Lakewood is working toward a future built on inclusivity, sustainability, and continued community engagement. By elevating community voices Lakewood aims to create a city where every resident feels heard, valued, and proud to contribute to the ongoing story of the community.  

Lakewood Together 

Lakewood Together, launched in 2016, is an online public engagement platform initiated by the City of Lakewood to promote transparency, innovation, and community involvement. It provides a space where residents and local government collaborate, share ideas, and strengthen democracy through local initiatives. 

Developed in partnership with Bang the Table/Engagement HQ, Lakewood Together facilitates civic engagement by allowing residents to participate in city projects and initiatives at their convenience through digital tools. Many projects on the platform originate from residents’ suggestions, demonstrating the city’s commitment to involving the community in decision-making processes.

Since its launch, Lakewood Together has garnered significant engagement, with nearly 400,000 visits and active participation from thousands of residents in surveys and discussions. Residents have influenced various community plans and initiatives, providing valuable input on transportation improvements, safety measures, and other aspects of city life. 

Lakewood Together prioritizes inclusiveness and equity by offering multilingual support, screen-reader accessibility, captions on any videos shared, and by promoting a variety of in-person and online engagement opportunities, including meetings with available translators.  

Today, Lakewood continues to leverage Lakewood Together as a crucial tool for shaping a shared vision through robust public engagement strategies. The platform remains integral to promoting collaboration, transparency, and inclusivity in local governance, ultimately contributing to a stronger and more interconnected community. 

Sustainable Neighborhoods Program 

The Sustainable Neighborhoods Program, initiated by Lakewood in 2012, began as a grassroots endeavor to engage residents in promoting sustainability within their communities. It evolved from a pilot project into a model adopted by cities nationwide, forming the Sustainable Neighborhoods Network. This program motivates residents to play an active role in improving the quality of life in their neighborhoods and minimizing their environmental impact by engaging in workshops, projects, and events, leading to certifications for their contributions. The program’s emphasis on community initiatives, such as community gardens, free little libraries, potluck-style events, and youth initiatives serves to build strong community bonds that uplift everyone. 

Lakewood’s program has seen significant participation, with over 11,000 residents involved in various sustainability projects. The program has now expanded to 10 neighborhoods and has garnered interest from other municipalities, leading to its adoption in Denver, Wheat Ridge, and Fort Collins. The program, now a nonprofit, fosters collaboration among residents, businesses, schools, and nonprofits to advance sustainability. It innovatively leverages community resources to address local challenges and encourages diverse projects tailored to each neighborhood’s needs. 

The program is unique in measuring the impact of neighborhood initiatives on climate change, with areas that excel attaining Outstanding Sustainable Neighborhood status. In so doing, the program brings residents together for a cleaner, greener future and has earned recognition and inspired similar initiatives nationally, highlighting its role as a catalyst for broader sustainability efforts.

Lakewood Speaks 

 Lakewood Speaks has revolutionized civic engagement and accessibility to public meetings in the city. The online platform provides a transparent and user-friendly space for residents to review agendas, comment on specific items, access meeting recordings, and contribute to decision-making processes. This transformative tool has seen an 800 percent increase in meeting participation, becoming a dynamic hub for community involvement, transparency, and inclusive governance. 

Through this program, residents can actively participate in discussions and decision-making, regardless of whether they are able to attend in-person meetings. It also promotes transparency by making meeting agendas readily accessible to all Lakewood residents and removes barriers to community involvement, redefining engagement with constituents. 

Comments made on the Lakewood Speaks platform are publicly accessible and taken into consideration for important decision-making processes, ensuring a diversity of perspectives is considered. The site also indicates how many of the City Council or Planning Commission members have read the written comments for their respective meetings, providing an additional layer of transparency. 

This platform has significantly increased engagement among younger demographics, addressing historical underrepresentation in civic affairs. Moreover, it promotes information sharing among local organizations, businesses, and residents, leading to higher meeting attendance and greater civic involvement. 

Lakewood Speaks has had a substantial impact, evidenced by the remarkable increase in meeting participation and high citizen satisfaction. Its success has prompted other municipalities to rethink their approach to public engagement, highlighting the platform’s role in strengthening democracy and fostering community involvement.  


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