Local Civic Leaders Report

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The Center for Democracy Innovation interviewed a variety of local civic leaders to better understand how they are faring amidst a variety of challenges facing American democracy.

We heard about five areas that local civic leaders are working on:

  1. Advancing Social justice and Systemic Change
  2. Building Bridging Networks
  3. Augmenting Civic Participation in Formal Institutions and Processes
  4. Plugging People into the Public Services
  5. Deepening Civic Conversations

We outline several ways to further support the work that local civic leaders are doing:

  • Greater collaboration: at the local level, cooperation between leaders trying to engage
    residents in different settings and issue areas, and at the state and national levels,
    connections between leaders working in different places;
  • More support from local institutions, given that engagement requires time and skill, and
    there seldom seems to be enough people (paid or unpaid) to carry out the work;
  • More concerted efforts to take stock of the civic infrastructure - networks, organizations,
    grassroots groups, past history of engagement, local online spaces - of their communities;
  • Tools and processes that will help them measure processes, outcomes, and attitudes;
  • More effective, scalable tools and approaches for reaching out to community members,
    particularly among under-represented groups;
  • More versatile engagement processes that can help them interact with people ‘where they are,’
    especially in hyperlocal online spaces, homes, and workplaces.

This report was made possible by the support of the Kettering Foundation.

Nick Vlahos, Deputy Director, Center for Democracy Innovation, National Civic League

Matt Leighninger, Director, Center for Democracy Innovation, National Civic League

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