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

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Building Equitable and Resilient Communities

Getting Started

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

  • Download the application (complete the form on the right side of this page). Important dates and detailed instructions can be found in the full application.
  • Gather with others from the community to discuss local efforts and their impact. Communities also explore their challenges and aspirations for the future.
  • Take time to review all of the great resources for All-America City Applicants on our website, including past applications and presentations and the monthly webinars with previous winners to learn more about the benefits of the Award, the application process, and other communities' innovative projects
  • Submit Letter of Intent by December 1, 2020 to save $100 on your 2021 application fee
  • Submit application and $250 application fee by February 10, 2021. All applicants receive a complimentary National Civic League membership.
  • Finalists are announced in March and invited to assemble a community team to present at the All-America City Event in Denver.
  • Prepare presentation if chosen as a finalist (review previous presentations to get an idea of the feel of the event)
  • Attend the three day Awards Event and Conference in Denver, CO, June 4-6, 2021. The event includes workshops, panel discussions, networking opportunities, and community presentations to a jury of national experts. Winning community delegations have been as small as 4 and as large as 100 participants; presentations are judged on merit, not delegation size.
  • 10 winners are selected - by the jury - from among the Finalists.
  • Celebrate your success!

The All-America City Award continues to be the most prestigious civic award in the country. Mandy Pitts, Communications Director, City of Hickory, NC

Important Dates

Important dates and detailed instructions can be found in the full application.

  • September 2020-May 2021:
  • December 1, 2020:
    • Submit Letter of Intent to Apply (not required, however, save $100 on your application fee when you submit a Letter of Intent.)
  • February 10, 2021:
    • Submit Application and application fee
  • March 2021:
    • Finalists Announced
  • March-June 2021:
    • Competition Preparation
  • June 4-6, 2021:
    Participate in the virtual All-America City Awards Competition and Event (virtual or in-person TBD)

The All-America City Award is like a Good Housekeeping seal of approval. Worcester Telegram Gazette

Application Criteria

  • Civic Engagement:
    comprehensive citizen/resident engagement in decision-making and action planning
  • Inclusiveness and Equity:
    intentional involvement of diverse segments and perspectives (ethnic, racial, socio-economic, age, sexual orientation, gender expression, people with disabilities, and others) in community decision-making
  • Collaboration:
    cross-sector collaboration (business, local government, nonprofits, military, etc.) and regional collaboration
  • Innovation:
    creative use and leveraging of community resources
  • Impact and Future Planning and Visioning:
    demonstrable, significant and measurable achievements from the past 5 years

Guidelines

The 2021 All-America City Awards will recognize communities that have worked to improve equity and resilience. Equity is the fabric that allows communities to achieve broad-based economic prosperity and other goals. Resilience enables communities to face challenging times by not only preserving what makes their community great but adapting and growing stronger. Both qualities depend on inclusive civic engagement.

The need for equity and resilience has become more obvious in 2020, as communities have dealt with a global pandemic and racial bias incidents in law enforcement. Those communities with more equity and resilience have been more successful in combatting the pandemic and making the needed changes to improve the racial equity of law enforcement and other city services.

All-America City applicants for 2021 will be asked to discuss the strength of their civic capital—the formal and informal relationships, networks and capacities they use to make decisions and solve problems—and to provide examples of community-driven projects that have adapted and transformed the community to be more equitable and resilient. Projects adhering to this year’s theme include (but are not limited to) those that:

  • promote racial healing and equity
  • expand the role of residents in disaster preparedness and recovery
  • enhance equity in the community’s COVID-19 response
  • reform law enforcement to improve equity
  • create more civic capacity through leadership or communication programs
  • improve mental health and trauma systems
  • further educational equity
  • create affordable and safe housing
  • reduce poverty
  • increase job readiness and employment
  • focus on restorative justice
  • engage the community in environmental sustainability

View Past Awards Presentations

Community presentations are an essential part of the AAC experience. Finalist communities have 10 minutes to bring their application to life and present the story of their work and their community to a jury of national civic experts.

To the city and to the whole area, it’s like having that five-star rating on a restaurant. Karen Papouchado, Mayor Pro-Tempore, Aiken, SC

Contact AAC@NCL.org with questions.

Download the 2021 All-America City Award Application

Webinars, Interviews and Speeches

This page includes webinars, interviews and speeches covering promising practices around the country. The free monthly Promising Practices Webinar series highlights successful projects around the country with speakers from cities implementing creative strategies for civic engagement. These webinars are free and open to anyone who is interested in creating stronger communities. The National Civic League's interview series includes conversations with elected officials, civic engagement experts, figures important to our history and others. Recorded speeches allow you to re-live the keynote addresses of past All-America City awards events and conferences.

View the Webinar Archive
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