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Announcing the NCDD Catalyst Awards!

In conjunction with our 5th NCDD national conference, the Board of the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation is delighted to announce the NCDD Catalyst Awards. Two $10,000 prizes will be awarded to separate team projects that jump-start the field’s next best ideas and impact our communities’ and our country’s ability to solve its most challenging problems.

Photo from a working group forming at the 2006 NCDD conference

The Catalyst Awards are not only about competition, but about utilizing the resources in our network. NCDD’s most valuable resource is our membership of 1,600 leaders and innovators in public engagement, conflict transformation and community problem solving. We’re looking for self-organization, collaboration and innovation among our members. The team approach will help you address challenges that are too complex to solve on your own. We will tap into our network as well to identify the winners, as all NCDD members will be eligible to vote for the winning projects!

Although there will only be two Catalyst Award project winners, we hope to see more than two innovative projects launch through this process.

There will be two categories of Catalyst Awards:

1. Civic Infrastructure

This category encourages collaborative projects that contribute to the development of a robust, sustainable civic infrastructure in our communities and our country. Every community has a physical infrastructure – the streets and power and sewer lines that connect buildings and allow cities to function and grow. But every place also has a civic infrastructure: decision-making processes, public and online spaces, and formal and informal networks that enable people to come together to solve problems and build a thriving community.

How can we, in the NCDD community, combine forces to ensure each of us is doing our part to build and sustain civic infrastructure, and to to build on each other’s progress rather than starting from scratch? What might we create together that can sustain our collective long-term capacity to come together to solve problems and build thriving communities?

2. Bridge Building

This category encourages collaborative projects that help our field, communities and nation make great strides in bridging political divides and crossing boundaries. In a time of intense political polarization and legislative gridlock, identifying mechanisms or systems for engagement that transcend or defy this atmosphere are essential–and incredibly challenging. The public must have the ability as well as the opportunity to engage in productive, structured dialogue and deliberation if we are to bridge the current political divide.

What projects can we launch together to make significant progress in this area? How can we build upon past and current efforts in political bridge building in ways that move our field forward–and gain the attention and support of those with the financial and other resources needed to sustain the work?

How are these awards funded?

The Civic Infrastructure award is funded by generous contributions from members of the NCDD Board of Directors. The Bridge Building award is funded by a donor advised fund called the Harrison Giveaway Fund. NCDD is grateful for these gifts and for what they represent: confidence in our organization during its 10th year of operation and in our extraordinary Coalition of civic leaders and innovators.

How do we get started?

First, look over the Catalyst Awards FAQs page at www.ncdd.org/catalyst-awards for details about the process, criteria, and more.

Next, let’s think together about the kinds of projects we’d like this initiative to catalyze. We encourage you to use  the NCDD Discussion list, the blog, the Facebook group, and the LinkedIn group to discuss ideas you or others may want to put forward.

A couple of weeks before the conference, we’ll begin utilizing the CivicEvolution.org platform for idea generation, team building, and project development. CivicEvolution is an online collaboration and project-development software created by NCDD member Brian Sullivan, who is donating his services for the Catalyst Award program.  Once we launch our space on CivicEvolution, you can start officially proposing and honing projects there.

Then, of course, we’ll see many of you at the NCDD Seattle conference October 12-14, where you can continue to propose projects, hone your projects, find great team members, get feedback on your ideas, and announce your project’s progress in the closing session.

So, let the creative process begin – we can’t wait to hear what you come up with!

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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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