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Sign Up Now for News on Case Foundation's Upcoming Citizen-Centered Grants

You can sign up now for email updates on a grant competition in the works at the Case Foundation.  Case’s “Igniting Civic Engagement” Grants will support citizen-centered approaches to meet community needs, and they plan to send out more details in late spring (eligibility criteria, application guidelines, timelines, etc.).

Last year, the Case Foundation released a great article by Cynthia Gibson titled “Citizens at the Center: A New Approach to Civic Engagement,” which suggests that getting citizens more involved in the civic life and health of their communities must begin with citizens themselves. A citizen-centered approach is a subtle, yet powerful, shift from the way service and civic engagement generally operate. Rather than asking people to “plug into” existing pre-determined programs, initiatives, or campaigns, citizen-centered approaches help people form and promote their own decisions, build capacities for self-government, and develop open-ended civic processes.

The following text was taken from the Case Foundation website:

Citizen-Centered Approaches Are:

  • Focused primarily on culture change, rather than short-term outcomes, issues, or victories, although the latter can be a foundation through which communities achieve a sense of efficacy to move forward toward other efforts collectively.
  • Representative of a cross-section of the entire community, rather than parts of it.
  • Concerned with the deliberative process to identify public problems or concerns–no matter how messy or complex it can be–as equally as important to civic engagement as the tactics employed to address these problems and concerns.
  • Cognizant of the importance of helping people form and promote their own decisions, build capacities for self-government, and promote open-ended civic processes.

Citizen-Centered Approaches Are Not:

  • Structured or pre-determined programs, initiatives, projects, or campaigns into which people are asked to “plug in” and participate.
  • Focused on providing “training” or “education.”
  • Planned, structured, or driven by outside experts, professionals, organizations, or those external to the community (however “community” is defined).
  • Attempting to inspire, persuade, or manipulate people to adopt a particular view or position on an issue or agenda.

Our Learning Exchange entry for the article has more details than included in this post:  http://www.thataway.org/exchange/resources.php?action=view&rid=2121.

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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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