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Ben Franklin Circles

The Ben Franklin Circles (BFC) is a collaborative project of 92nd Street Y (92Y), the Hoover Institution, and Citizen University. BFC reflects a shared commitment to fostering civic participation, open dialogue, and ethics-based leadership. Ben Franklin Circles are based on the idea of a mutual improvement club started by Benjamin Franklin. Franklin gathered a group of peers once a week to hash out projects to improve their community and also, to discuss and debate 13 virtues that Franklin saw as the basis of personal improvement and civic life — qualities like justice, humility and resolution. This mutual improvement club became the jumping off point for projects like the post office, the volunteer fire department and the lending library.

92Y – in partnership with Stanford’s Hoover Institution and Citizen University — is now reviving this idea. We’ve created the tools and resources any community will need to start their own Ben Franklin Circle, with the goal of creating a network of Circles dedicated to hosting conversations about what matters most. The Ben Franklin Circles are a fun, innovative way to build and strengthen community in an increasingly disconnected and digital world. They are about asking two simple questions:

  1. How can I improve myself?
  2. How can I improve the world?

Please contact Julie Mashack, senior producer at 92Y’s Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact: jmashack[at]92y[dot]org.

About 92Y
The organization, founded in 1874, is a center for innovation and the visual and performing arts; a convener of both people and ideas; and an incubator for creativity. 92Y is built on a foundation of Jewish values: the unparalleled capacity of civil dialogue to change minds; the unlimited potential of education and the arts to change lives; and the eternal commitment to welcoming and serving people of all races, religions and ethnicities.

About Hoover Institution
BFC is a program within the Mary Jo and Dick Kovacevich Initiative at the Hoover Institution, Educating Americans in Public Policy, that seeks to provide citizens with accurate facts, information, and an analytic perspective to enable them better perform their civic duties, hold their elected leaders accountable, and, as expressed in the Constitution, “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” Founded in 1919, the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, is a public policy research center devoted to the advanced study of economics, politics, history, domestic and foreign political economy, and international affairs.

About Citizen University
Citizen University is a national nonprofit based in Seattle that works to help Americans cultivate the values, systems knowledge, and skills of powerful citizenship. Programs and initiatives include the Civic Collaboratory, a civic leadership network; Sworn-Again America, a project on civic rituals; programs and resources to teach civic power; and a new initiative, the Joy of Voting, that aims to reinvigorate a culture of participation and engagement around voting. The Citizen University National Conference features hundreds of change makers, activists, catalysts, and students from across the country, an annual civic gathering unlike any other. This is a time when citizens are solving problems in new ways,

Resource Link: http://benfranklincircles.org/

This resource was submitted by Julie Mashack, the Senior Producer at 92nd Street Y via the Add-a-Resource form.

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