Posts Tagged 'Civic Health'

#ADPFF 9.27.2013

By Stephanie South, Program Associate, AASCU

Hello and happy #ADPFF, ADP peeps!

We didn’t post last week (sigh…) because ADP National Manager Jen Domagal-Goldman and I were at the 2013 National Conference on Citizenship at the United States Institute of Peace.

United States Institute of Peace

We were here: the United States Institute of Peace

So, this Friday, we are bringing you a couple pics and some of our favorite/thought-provoking tweets from the event. For more on what went down, discover #NCoC on Twitter.

ADP National Manager @ NCoC

ADP National Manager Jen Domagal-Goldman speaking about ADP at the 2013 NCoC

Some of the tweets/conversation-starters we favorited:

TweetTweet2Tweet1Half-Mast Flag

The flag at half-mast outside of the State Department as a show of respect for the victims of Navy Yard; NCoC also opened both days of the event with a moment of silence


Challenge Yourself: Use Civic Data to Meet Community Needs

by the National Conference on Citizenship (an ADP Partner organization)

Civic Data Challenge logoThe 2013 Civic Data Challenge launches today at the Data Visualization Summit in San Francisco. The Challenge invites participants to turn raw data about civic health into useful applications and visualizations that have direct impact on public decision-making.

Expanded version of last year’s challenge

Last year, the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) with the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation  launched the first-ever national Civic Data Challenge. Winning teams spanned the country and included undergraduate students and nonprofit leaders, financial analysts and graphic designers, developers and coders. They brought new eyes, new minds, and new skill sets to the field of civic health to help make this trove of community insight more valuable and accessible to decision makers and the public. For a great recap of last year’s Challenge, read Fast Company’s Visualizing Civic Data to Make the Case for Civic Health.

This year, NCoC, with the support of Knight Foundation, is launching an expanded version of the Challenge. Exciting additions to this year’s Challenge include:

  • Three Challenge phases–ideation, creation, and implementation– to help teams come together to build entries that are responsive to community needs.
  • Grand prizes to teams that create exceptionally useful products AND work with community partners to successfully implement those tools.
  • The opportunity for participants to improve entries along the way with the support of a team of expert advisors.

Submit an idea now

The Civic Data Challenge is asking community leaders, government officials, developers, coders and all interested citizens to get involved. The first step is to submit an idea through the Challenge website, from April 11 – May 19. This ideation phase is an opportunity to creative a collective brainstorm about what tools (apps, websites, videos, and infographics) could be built using civic data. These ideas will inform the parameters of the Challenge and teams will begin building entries to respond May 24 – July 28.  Join us at .

The Civic Data Challenge is supported by our launch partners at Innovation Enterprise who are organizing the Data Visualization Summit. DVSF is the world’s largest executive led data visualization summit and will be attended by Fortune 500 executives. The challenge is also supported by promotional partners at CEOs for Cities, DataKind, Data Visualization Summit and sponsors at

Upcoming Webinar: NCoC and Civic Health Partnership Opportunities

NCoC LogoCivic data is essential to measuring, understanding, and shaping how our communities and democracy are functioning. Each year, NCoC and their partners at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) release in-depth information on how Americans are engaged in our communities across the country.

The most recent findings show some promising trends, but also some troubling gaps in participation. Interesting findings include:

  • In 2011, the national volunteer rate reached a five-year high.
  • There were also upward trends in how often we help each other informally, by looking after each other’s kids or helping a neighbor in need.
  • However, connections to our neighbors could be stronger, as just 13.3% of Americans said that they talk with their neighbors every day and only 30.4% do so a few times a week.
  • There are other gaps in local participation in civic life. Nearly a third of Americans say they never vote in local elections, and the majority of us are not involved in any organizations or groups in our communities.
  • Social media is often cited as the new wave of political engagement, but 72.1% of Americans say they never use the Internet to express opinions on political or community issues.

This information presents an important opportunity to develop strategies at the local level that strengthen civic engagement. NCoC currently works with partners in 30 communities to help make this data meaningful. These partners tell the story of what this data means, give context to the findings, and put forward recommendations on what can be done to strengthen civic life.

Want to learn more about how to bring this data to your community? Join NCoC for a webinar presentation on civic health partnership opportunities on March 27th, 2-3 PM Eastern.


The National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) is a non-partisan nonprofit chartered by Congress in 1953 to advance the nation’s civic life.

What We’re Watching: Happy

By Stephanie South, Program Associate, AASCU

ImageAfter recently reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (highly recommend by the way), I have found myself a bit preoccupied with research on the subject of happiness. My quest for more information and a lack of cable led me to the documentary section on Netflix, which I am nearly convinced is going to ruin the productivity of my twenties.

Anyway, it was on the Netflix app that I digitally stumbled upon Happy—a documentary film that takes the viewer, per IMDB, on a journey from the swamps of Louisiana to the slums of Kolkata in search of what really makes people happy. Although the stories of and interviews with the individuals living in these various locations, along with insight from leading scientists on happiness research (that sounds like a fun job), make the film worth viewing, those of you whose pulses quicken at all things civic may draw an additional smile from it.

As Happy explores the secrets behind our most valued emotion, a family living in a co-housing community in Denmark shares their experiences with it and the joy derived from it. Very Bowling Alone, I would imagine most of you will nod your head in agreement with the family about the importance of community and place to our emotional and civic health.

So if you find yourself with some down time this weekend, give Happy a try (and then get off Netflix and go read a book–that was mainly a note to self).


What We’re Reading: Millennials Civic Health Index

The Millennials Civic Health Index, recently released by four of the top civic organizations in the country, paints a comprehensive picture of young Americans 18 to 29 (AKA Millennials).

The study challenges commonly held beliefs about a generation of young Americans whose votes played a critical role in November’s presidential election. The report highlights the diverse ways in which Millennials are taking action in their communities beyond the voting booth, online and offline, across different regions of the United States.

The report, produced by the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC), The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, and, begins with a glass-half-full/glass-half-empty introduction to the civic health of Millennials and presents positive statistics and areas for growth.

The full press release and PDF version of the report can be found here.

ADP at UCO Takes State’s Civic Pulse

By Stephanie South, Program Associate, AASCU

Oklahoma Civic Health IndexThe American Democracy Project at the University of Central Oklahoma, in partnership with the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) and Oklahoma Campus Compact, has just released the 2012 Oklahoma Civic Health Index, which is focused on civic skills and voter education. The report looks at a broad set of indicators for civic participation both across the state and relative to national trends.

The first Oklahoma civic health index was produced by the partnered research teams in 2010.

The 2012 report, which was presented at the Oklahoma State Capitol on December 4, highlighted some of the conclusions reached by the research teams. One of the primary ones being that although there is still room for increased engagement, progress has been made since 2010. In fact, despite ranking 30th in the nation for discussing politics or 44th in regard to voter registration rates, Oklahoma ranks eighth in eating dinner with family and 20th in volunteerism.

For a synopsis of key findings, read the Edmond Sun’s article online.

UCO’s American Democracy Project plays a pivotal role in UCO’s civic health work. Patricia Loughlin, director of UCO’s ADP informed the Edmond Sun that, “We see value in exploring the civic health of Oklahoma through the lens of civic skills and voter education, and hope this report encourages new dialogue and action across the state. We invite everyone to invest in the civic health of Oklahoma’s citizens and communities as we prepare the next generation of informed and engaged citizens and leaders of our democracy.”

The University of Central Oklahoma is also a key participant in ADP’s Campus and Community Civic Health Initiative, a partnership with NCoC. As part of this initiative, UCO and the 24 other participating colleges and universities, will measure and work to improve aspects of campus and local community civic health.

For the full report, you can download the civic health index and take a look at the Oklahoma Civic Health infographic by clicking here.

Read a previous blog post about UCO’s 2010 civic health work here.

What We’re Reading: The Volunteering and Civic Life in America Fact Sheet

By Stephanie South, Program Associate, AASCU

CNCS_Brand_newNCoC LogoThe Volunteering and Civic Life in America website, sponsored by a partnership between the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and ADP partner the National Conference on Citizenship (NCOC), has just released new research in the form of a volunteering and civic engagement fact sheet. The site hosts the most comprehensive annual collection of information on Volunteering and Civic Life in America.

A summary of the information reports the following:

Volunteering and civic engagement are the cornerstone of a strong nation. Citizens working together and talking to each other help solve problems and make their communities better places to live and work. In 2011, the number of volunteers reached its highest level in five years. 64.3 million Americans volunteered approximately 7.9 billion hours, valued at $171 billion. Two out of three citizens (65.1%, or 143.7 million citizens) served their communities by doing favors for and helping out their neighbors; more than half (56.7%) trusted all or most of the people in their neighborhood. The Volunteering and Civic Life in America data is the most comprehensive source of volunteering and civic engagement information assembled, thanks to a partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Volunteering and Civic Life in America Fact Sheet covers the key findings and highlights from the most recent 2011 data.

Download the fact sheet here.

Also, given that we recently wrote about data visualization, it is worth nothing that this website hosts a fabulous data graphic (“infographic”). Its interactive map of the United States allows users to view state-by-state report data regarding how often residents of a state volunteer, eat dinner with their families, and discuss politics.

Being a fairly recent transplant to the East Coast, I am always interested to see how my native state is doing, both on its own and comparatively. The interactive map of the United States provided on the site offers a state-by-state highlight of report data.

For example, in Colorado—where our June 6-8, 2013 national meeting will also occur—in 2011:

  • 32.6% of residents volunteer, ranking them 13th among the 50 states and Washington, DC
  • 36.5 volunteer hours per resident
  • 69.1% do favors for their neighbors
  • 92.5% eat dinner with their family a few times a week or more
  • 56.7% discuss politics a few times a month or more
  • 1.29 million volunteers
  • 144.9 million hours of service
  • $3.4 billion of service contributed

Meanwhile, in D.C.:

  • 27.2% of residents volunteer, ranking them 26th among the 50 states and Washington, DC
  • 32.7 volunteer hours per resident
  • 61.5% do favors for their neighbors
  • 78.2% eat dinner with their family a few times a week or more
  • 68.9% discuss politics a few times a month or more
  • 138,170 volunteers
  • 16.6 million hours of service
  • $423.3 million of service contributed

Head to the site to download the fact sheet and check the state of your state’s civic health today.

Partner Spotlight: NCoC’s new Issue Brief “Civic Health & Unemployment II: The Case Builds”

Better Civic Health means Lower Unemployment

Civic Health and Unemployment II: The Case Builds is the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC)’s latest issue brief. This 2012 Issue Brief explores the relationship between civic engagement and economic resilience. It finds that the density and type of nonprofit organizations in a community, as well as its social cohesion (the level at which citizens trust, talk to and help neighbors and socialize with family and friends), are important predictors of that community’s ability to withstand unemployment in a recession.

“Civic Health and Unemployment II: The Case Builds” is released by NCoC in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with research by CIRCLE (the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement), Civic Enterprises, and Saguaro Seminar.

This brief is a continuation of research that began in 2011 with a brief called “Civic Health and Unemployment: Can Engagement Strengthen the Economy?” That brief found that five measures of civic engagement – attending meetings, helping neighbors, registering to vote, volunteering and voting – appear to help protect against unemployment and contribute to overall economic resilience. See the related 2011 brief.
The research will be presented this week in Philadelphia during the National Conference on Citizenship’s 67th annual conference, which brings together civic leaders, educators, CEOs and government representatives to address issues related to our nation’s civic health.

Viewers can watch the conference, including the announcement of the winners via livestream from 1-5:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 14th. There will be a panel exploring the link between civic engagement and employment at 1:45 p.m ET.

To join the conversation on Twitter, follow @NCoC and @CivicData and the hashtag #NCoC, or on its Facebook page. The conference will include questions from Twitter followers as part of the conference.

Authors: Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg (CIRCLE), Chaeyoon Lim (University of Wisconsin) and Peter Levine (CIRCLE).

NEA announces Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design

The National Endowment for the Arts Announces Leadership of Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design

Partnership of federal agencies, public and private organizations supports small communities

June 28, 2012

Washington, DC – In the Mississippi Delta — a region plagued by poverty, illiteracy, and geographic isolation — local history and culture can often become buried beneath the area’s woes. And yet, it is these unique assets that can revitalize local pride and make the difference between community survival and decay.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is dedicated to helping communities like the Delta rediscover their identity and reshape their cultural landscape. Beginning July 1, 2012, the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design (CIRD) will be a partnership among the NEA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Project for Public Spaces, along with the Orton Family Foundation and the CommunityMatters® Partnership.

CIRD works to enhance the quality of life and economic viability of rural areas. CIRD does this through design workshops that gather local leaders together with experts in planning, design, and creative placemaking to assist with locally identified issues. Since the program’s inception in 1991, CIRDhas convened more than 60 workshops in all regions of the country, empowering residents to recognize and leverage their local assets to build better places to live, work, and play.

“The future of many rural towns will be shaped by how well they can create vibrant communities where people want to be,” said USDA Deputy Under Secretary of Rural Development Doug O’Brien. “Arts investments in small towns can be an integral component of driving economic vitality by attracting residents and visitors alike to the main streets which are an enduring symbol — and critical to the future — of rural communities.”

As I travel around the country, I see more and more evidence of how creative assets can stimulate local economies,” said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman. “In rural areas there is a particular need to bring people physically together, and the arts and good design can be the catalysts for that. In its new configuration, CIRD will build on 20 years of experience and expand its work in rural settings by creating a strong knowledge network, providing access to innovative tools, and disseminating best practices.”

The new group of partners leading CIRD offers a depth and breadth of expertise along with additional initiative components that together will allow CIRD to help more American towns find better design solutions to the challenges of growth and development. Those new program components include pre-workshop training calls, post-workshop follow-up, and online resources.

Program Partners

Project for Public Spaces (PPS) is a planning, design, and educational organization dedicated to helping people build stronger communities by creating attractive and vital public spaces. Their mission of supporting placemaking meshes closely with the NEA’s emphasis on helping communities shape their physical and social character through the arts.

The Orton Family Foundation’s pioneering Heart & Soul Community Planning approach puts people and their attachment to place at the center of the planning process, and gives towns the know how to steer their future. The Foundation’s success building capacity in rural communities will enhance CIRD’s ability to create lasting change.

The CommunityMatters Partnership, initiated by the Orton Family Foundation, is a network of programs and experts working to support community development. The partnership champions the idea that people have the power to solve their community’s problems and shape its future.

The Department of Agriculture will use its staff, in particular its rural development network across the country, to increase the number and quality of applications to the program and to serve on panels to select communities for workshops.

“Rural communities across the country are expressing demand for new models for planning, design, community engagement, and creative placemaking. By supporting local capacity-building on an ongoing basis, we can help CIRD evolve as the network that rural communities need,” said President of Project for Public Spaces Fred Kent.

“Over recent decades too many small towns have gone from unique to uniform, subject to cookie-cutter design and development,” said Bill Roper, president and CEO of the Orton Family Foundation. “But people have the power to weave a new community narrative, one that enhances their town’s own heart and soul. We are excited to bring together all the resources of this partnership to help America’s rural communities thrive.”

Prior to Project for Public Spaces, CIRD was managed in partnership with the State University of New York at Syracuse and the school’s landscape architecture faculty led by Richard S. Hawks and Shelly S. Mastran. The NEA extends its sincere thanks to SUNY Syracuse and Mr. Hawks and Ms. Mastran for their leadership, and for strengthening the program and extending its reach.

More on CIRD

CIRD works with communities with populations of less than 50,000. This includes towns located in a non-metropolitan county or in a metropolitan county on the urban fringe. The focus of CIRD design workshops include

  • downtown revitalization
  • arts-based development
  • heritage preservation
  • land and agricultural conservation
  • growth management
  • transportation

Over the summer of 2012, CIRD partners will assemble a task force to develop guidelines for communities to apply to host a workshop. Guidelines will be distributed in Fall 2012 with a deadline expected in December 2012.  A panel will review the applications and selected communities will be announced in early January 2013.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at

About Project for Public Spaces

Project for Public Spaces (PPS) is a nonprofit planning, design, and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities.  Through a Placemaking approach we help citizens transform their public spaces into vital places that highlight local assets, spur rejuvenation and serve common needs. Founded in 1975, PPS has completed projects in over 2,500 communities and all 50 US states.  PPS has become an internationally recognized center for resources, tools, and inspiration about Placemaking.

About the Orton Family Foundation

The Orton Family Foundation, founded in 1995, helps small cities and towns harness the inherent ability of citizens to imagine and achieve a culturally and economically vibrant future for their community. The Foundation’s Heart & Soul approach supports citizens in steering their town’s future by discovering the characteristics and attributes valued most in their communities and, then, by placing those shared values at the center of local decision making.

About CommunityMatters

CommunityMatters is a national partnership of seven organizations with the common goal of building strong communities through the improvement of local civic infrastructure. The CommunityMatters partners aim to equip community members to strengthen their places and inspire change. The partners are: Deliberative Democracy Consortium; Grassroots Grantmakers; National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation; New America Foundation; Orton Family Foundation; Project for Public Spaces; and Strong Towns.

Partner Spotlight: NCoC’s Civic Data Challenge

Civic Data Challenge logo
Countdown to Civic Data Challenge Deadline: Turn Raw Data into Community Tools

Believe that communities can take better advantage of key data in their decision making? Join the Civic Data Challenge and help turn the raw data of civic health into useful community tools. The deadline for submission is July 29th.

The first-ever Civic Data Challenge will bring new eyes, new minds, new findings, and new skill sets to the field of civic health. It’s a project of NCoC (the National Conference on Citizenship), in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as well as other great partners like Code for America and the Case Foundation. Kaggle, DataWeek, and GOOD are all contributing exciting prizes. The Foundation has announced their commitment as a top-line sponsor—contributing $25,000 in cash prizes for Challenge winners!

Participants in the Challenge will turn the raw data of “civic health” into beautiful, useful applications and visualizations, enabling communities to be better understood and made to thrive. NCoC is providing its civic health data, as well as other data on the important topics of health, safety, education, and the economy.

You’re invited to collaborate with others, analyze the data, and create something amazing to showcase what you find. Designers, data scientists, researchers, and app developers are especially encouraged to join the challenge. All entries must be received by July 29th, so make sure to join the Google Group now!

The challenge has exciting prizes for the winners, who will be selected from each category — health, economy, safety, and education. As a participant, you will be competing for cash and other cool prizes including the opportunity to host your own data competition on the Kaggle platform, to present your winning insights at Data Week in September, and to feature your submissions through the GOOD platform.

You’ll also have the chance to get your work in front of an awesome team of judges including:

  • Leslie Bradshaw, President, COO and Co-founder of JESS3
  • Beth Kanter, Author, Blogger, Trainer
  • Henry E. Brady, Dean and Professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley
  • Matt Mahan, President and Acting CEO, Causes
  • Jake Porway, Founder and Executive Director, DataKind
  • Darell Hammond, CEO and Founder of KaBOOM!
  • Maria Teresa Kumar, Founding Executive Director of Voto Latino
  • Ryan Resella, Technical Lead at Code for America
  • Sonal Shah, former Director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation
  • Michael D. Smith, Senior Vice President of Social Innovation at the Case Foundation
  • Christie George, Director of New Media Ventures
  • Craig Newmark, Founder of Craigslist and Craigconnects
  • Vivek Kundra, Executive Vice President, Emerging Markets,

Winners will be announced at the 67th Annual National Conference on Citizenship on September 14 in Philadelphia.

Watch the Civic Data Challenge team launch the Challenge at the Data 2.0 Summit in San Francisco:

How to find the Challenge:

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