National League of Cities: “Bright Spots in Community Engagement” report

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In partnership with the The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the National
League of Cities commenced a project on community engagement bright spots in the fall
of 2011. The purposes of the project were to:

  • Identify promising practices and models in communities that are successfully engaging citizens in local problem-solving efforts
  • Develop a series of city examples and case studies highlighting key elements and strategies embedded in these local initiatives

In the initial phase of the project, drawing on the experience of the Knight Foundation
in communities where it is engaged as well as on the National League of Cities’ prior
work with city leaders, we conducted phone interviews with community leaders. The
National League of Cities then followed with in-depth scans of initiatives that showed
particular promise in 14 communities across our nation of varying size and character.
The types of efforts we looked to identify in these community scans met one or more of
the following the criteria:

  • Efforts that employ new tools and strategies such as technology-based tools
  • Efforts with a broader reach that engaged diverse segments of the community
  • Efforts that have had notable successes and outcomes
  • Efforts that evolved to employ different strategies and tools sustainably over time

In the second phase of the project, in consultation with the Knight Foundation, the
National League of Cities selected initiatives in four communities for in-depth case
studies, including further research, interviews, and site visits. The four communities
selected were Austin, Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia

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