Community Assistance

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National expertise to support your local engagement efforts

The National Civic League community assistance team facilitates strategic planning processes, community engagement trainings, and development of local engagement plans and materials – helping local governments and institutions engage and involve residents in ways that lead to tangible outcomes.

The National Civic League and its Center for Democracy Innovation facilitate:

Civic Infrastructure Scans. Local leaders need to know what pitfalls to avoid and what assets they can count on. The Scan is a qualitative research methodology that examines the strengths and gaps in the support structure for local democracy, including the recent history of engagement, skills and capacities present in the community, and the state of discussion online. Each scan consists of semi-structured qualitative interviews with key local leaders, media and social media analysis, and desk research.

Planning Processes to Improve the Infrastructure for Engagement and Collaboration. The National Civic League and Center for Democracy Innovation can provide on-the-ground assistance to help communities renovate their civic infrastructure, including upgrades to:

  • Official public meetings and other regular opportunities for engagement
  • Digital engagement interwoven with texting-enabled and in-person processes
  • Strategies for advancing equity and measuring progress
  • Youth civic engagement opportunities
  • Engagement opportunities for older adults
  • Supports for neighborhoods and local online networks to help them build community, engage more people, and connect with government
  • City charters and other foundational documents
  • Skill-building opportunities for staff, elected officials, and traditional and nontraditional community leaders
  • Other core elements of civic infrastructure

Engagement Scorecard. Public meetings can be productive and powerful – but in order to make them work for people, it helps to have ways of gauging participant satisfaction quickly and easily. The Scorecard is a quantitative, “user-centered” data-gathering tool hosted on the Alchemer platform. It gives people a fast, tag-based system to rate public engagement opportunities and the overall quality of local democracy and civic health. It offers various ways to visualize collated data. Crucially, the way the Scorecard works emphasizes the fact that many different leaders and organizations are responsible for sustaining democracy, and that collaboration among those institutions is critical.

Facilitation in Controversial or Crisis Situations. The Civic League can offer the expertise of veteran local leaders and practitioners for dealing with controversial or crisis situations, including recovery from natural disasters, managing police reform and public safety conversations, or processes for renaming city assets such as buildings, streets, plazas and parks.

Our Approach

National Civic League’s community assistance philosophy encourages communities to view civic engagement as more than presenting information, or distributing questionnaires (though both are important); instead, we promote listening to, and learning from, residents consistently and using those insights to shape how programs are administered, designed and executed. We set a different expectation for engagement.

“We tried to engage ‘them’ but no one showed up” is not enough; engagement of racial and ethnic minorities and others traditionally excluded from decision-making is not “going above and beyond,” it must become the new expectation – the baseline for legitimate engagement efforts.  Click here to read more about Why Engagement Matters

Our key strengths include:

  • Identifying ways to move from conversation to action, from ideas to implementation
  • Ensuring that engagement reaches beyond those who typically engage
  • Developing materials and processes to fit the unique context, challenges and history of the community
  • Designing and implementing public engagement processes that lead to enhanced resident knowledge, input and buy-in
  • Ensuring ongoing participation through newly formed networks across the community

Contact the League to talk about your local challenges and how engagement might help move the needle for your community.

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Thank You to Our Key Partners