The All-America City Award recognizes communities that leverage civic engagement, collaboration, inclusiveness and innovation to successfully address local issues.

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The Award

Since 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) recognizes the work of communities in using inclusive civic engagement to address critical issues and create stronger connections among residents, businesses and nonprofit and government leaders.

Celebrating Civic Engagement

The All-America City Award shines a spotlight on the incredible work taking place in communities across the country. By celebrating the best in local innovation, civic engagement and cross-sector collaboration, the All-America City Awards remind us of the potential within every community to tackle tough issues and create real change.

Anyone who’s witnessed the annual All-America City competition has seen the evidence of what communities can do to come together, solve their problems and set a strategy for their future. Curtis Johnson, Executive Editor of Citiscope

The All-America City Award 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 across the country.

    The 2018 All-America City Award will focus on promoting equity through inclusive civic engagement.

  • The Award is open to all American communities, from major cities, counties and regions to tribes, neighborhoods, towns and villages.

    In applying, communities reflect on their strengths, weaknesses, challenges and the progress they have made.

  • 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.

    The awards conference includes workshops on promising practices.

The Program

The All-America City Award offers the opportunity for both recognition and reflection. When communities apply for recognition, they bring together a diverse cross-sector team to review their strengths, discuss their progress, examine their challenges and tell the story of their community. Communities gain a better understanding of civic excellence during the yearlong process of seeking to become an All-America City.

Every city that participates, whether as an applicant, finalist or winner, walks away with a stronger sense of their community assets, their challenges and ways to move forward together. To support this learning, communities are encouraged to attend our monthly Promising Practices Webinar series to learn from previous winners and other communities about their innovative projects and about the application process. Communities applying for the All-America City Award then are encouraged to access our resources to best understand how to present their civic successes in a meaningful way.

The Award validates our community’s quality of life and is used proudly in all of our economic development and corporate recruitment efforts. Shane Homan, Tupelo Chamber of Commerce

Members of the 2016 Whittier, California All-America City delegation. Photo Credit: Aaron B. Leavy
Benefits

The All-America City Awards brings together communities from across the country and provides an opportunity for innovative leaders and passionate residents 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.

Winning ‘helped us land a BIG project in the midst of major economic recession. IBM located their first data center in 10-15 years in downtown Dubuque and created 1,300 new jobs with an annual payroll of $58 million! This is a testament to what the All-America City Award stands for in terms of a community’s can-do spirit’ Cynthia Steinhauser, former Assistant City Manager Dubuque, IA.

 

Benefits of winning include:

  • Economic Stimulus
    All-America City finalists and winners find it easier to attract and retain businesses that generate jobs and a stronger tax base. They also attract and retain residents who want a healthy community.  Finalists and winners also have seen an increase in tourism and grants.
  • Community Pride
    The award has reinvigorated communities with a new sense of pride, accomplishment and teamwork. People are proud to live in an All-America City and they work to live up to that label and to maintain such a high standard. 
  • Community Collaboration
    The application process itself encourages communities to evaluate themselves and fosters new partnerships. People often say they learned more about the great work taking place in their community because of the application process than they ever imagined.
  • National Recognition
    Winning the All-America City Award raises the profile of local efforts and puts communities on a national stage. Winners join an elite network of communities that can proudly call themselves an All-America City. And once a community wins, it’s always an All-America City. We hear regularly about communities that still celebrate and take pride in winning even after 40 years or more.

Contact aac@ncl.org for more information

About the Event

Teams of residents, including young people, nonprofit, business and government leader from communities across the country meet for three days. Throughout the event, 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. This transformational experience equips, inspires and supports leaders and communities to achieve more than they ever believed possible.

How to Apply
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