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$125,000 Grant Program for Citizen Engagement in California

CSC LogoHere’s some great news for D&Ders in California…

Common Sense California is offering $125,000 total to municipalities, school districts, and non-profits that wish to engage the public in policy decisions through their new “Citizen Engagement Grant Program.” The grants are divided into two levels and will be awarded in two timeframes. CSC is offering four “Common Sense Grants” up to $25,000.00 each for use in developing campaigns that involve the public around issues pertaining to city/regional and/or K12 policy. Applications for these grants will be received through September 12, 2008, with recipients notified in early October. “Catalyst Grants” in amounts up to $7,500.00 will be awarded on a rolling basis, beginning in late June. Click on “more” for the full press release.

Common Sense California Offering $125,000 to Municipalities, School Districts, and Non-Profits That Wish to Engage Public in Policy Decisions through the “Citizen Engagement Grant Program.”

Los Angeles and San Francisco, Calif. – May 21, 2008 – Common Sense California (CSC) today announced the offering of $125,000.00 in funds to municipalities, school districts and non-profit organizations that are attempting to engage their citizens in legitimate, informed decision making through their “Citizen Engagement Grant Program.”

The grants are divided into two levels and will be awarded in two timeframes. CSC is offering four “Common Sense Grants” up to $25,000.00 each for use in developing campaigns that involve the public around issues pertaining to city/regional and/or K12 policy. Applications for these grants will be received through September 12, 2008, with recipients notified in early October. “Catalyst Grants” in amounts up to $7,500.00 will be awarded on a “rolling basis”, beginning in late June.

Recent examples of such citizen engagement projects have included land use/infrastructure decisions at the city and county levels, K12 school budget and curriculum policy formation, city-wide five and ten-year visioning plans, plus school regionalization/shared service decisions.

“As a mulit-partisan and non-profit organization, Common Sense California is uniquely positioned to support legitimate efforts to engage citizens in important public policy issues, where the “voice” of the informed citizen can really make a difference,” said Pete Peterson, executive director of CSC. “We understand that, oftentimes, California’s civic leaders have wanted to involve the public more on specific policy matters, but either did not have an expertise in various engagement methodologies, or the budget to make it happen. Our Common Sense Grant Program is an attempt to answer both of those challenges.”

What is “Legitimate” Citizen Engagement?

More about the criteria for the Common Sense Grants can be found on the website, but for a glimpse at how CSC defines this term, Ed Everett, the recent City Manager for Redwood City and current co-Chair of CSC’s City/Regional Task Force puts it this way: “Leaders are beginning to understand that on particular policy questions, the focus of control needs to move from the outcome to the citizen engagement process.” In this, they can “take their hands off the wheel” of the outcome and truly concentrate on gaining the input of informed citizens. By creating these “spaces” where citizens from a variety of perspectives can deliberate over an important policy question, there is also the very real opportunity for building community as citizens discuss a localized policy concern that interests all.

How to Apply

All Common Sense Grant applications will be taken through the Common Sense California website: www.commonsenseca.org.

Further information about grant criteria and the selection process will also be noted on the website.

About Common Sense California

Common Sense California is a mulit-partisan and non-profit organization that promotes citizen engagement throughout the state as a means of producing better policy decisions, and offering Californians meaningful opportunities to participate in their governance. To this end we both support civic participation financially through our Common Sense Grant Program, but also work consultatively, sitting down with civic leaders to talk about ways in which they can more effectively engage their citizens.

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Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with Andy Fluke in 2002, with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first national conference. She served as NCDD's Executive Director between 2002 and 2018. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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