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How are WE Doing? A Public Engagement Evaluation Platform

In June 2016, the Davenport Institute released, How are WE Doing? A Public Engagement Evaluation Platform, which was designed for public leaders to evaluate their public engagement processes and/or apply to be recognized as a “publicly engaged city” on a silver, gold, or platinum level. The Davenport Institute offers support to officials looking to engage their public better; and offer training and resources to help improve this process. Below describes how the platform works, the way it was designed, and the support provided by the Davenport Institute. You can find the link to the eval platform, access resources, and apply to be recognized for your public engagement processes here.

From the Davenport Institute

For almost a decade, the Davenport Institute has been researching, training, and consulting with public officials to improve the ways in which governments involve their residents in making tough policy decisions. This work has taken us throughout California and across the country, learning about and teaching the latest techniques in effective participatory governance.

We continue to hear from public leaders seeking to capture a “30,000-foot view” of their government’s practices in this area. That is why we are launching “How are WE Doing?” to be that lens through which you can evaluate your municipality’s public engagement processes.

There are two ways to use this tool:

  1. Self-Evaluation: These questions are designed to help you think through your own engagement efforts. We hope they will help you identify areas of strength and weakness, and guide you to appropriate resources for making your relationship with residents even stronger.
  2. Recognition: If your municipality is already doing a great job of legitimate public engagement, we want to know! This platform allows you to submit an application to be recognized as a “publicly engaged city” at one of three levels. Answer the questions, and share some of your story to encourage other local governments to keep engaging!

For more information, we’ve answered some frequently asked questions below. You can also email the Davenport Institute or give us a call at 310-506-4494 for more information.

How do WE Measure Up?
This platform has been developed based on conversations and observations from our training, grant-making, and consultation, as well as on a survey of accepted best practices in the public engagement field.  We have relied on input from dozens of public officials, and our advisory council.  All of this has been directed by the following members of the Davenport Institute task force to develop How are WE Doing?:

  • Artie Fields, City Manager, City of Inglewood
  • Rod Gould, City Manager, City of Santa Monica (retired)
  • Ken Hampian, City Manager City of San Luis Obispo (retired)
  • Dennis Donohue, former Mayor, City of Salinas

Together, this task force has developed a tool that will offer participants an accurate look at the quality and breadth of their own engagement efforts and allow municipalities to see how they rate and to apply for recognition as a publicly engaged organization.  It will also help us gather data and stories about how we are all doing in our attempts to better involve our residents – information we look forward to making available to all participants.

What if WE aren’t quite there?
At the Davenport Institute, we are fully aware that legitimate public engagement requires more than just a desire to engage.  We hope that as agencies, cities, counties, and special districts work through this checklist, they will begin to see areas where their engagement practices can improve.

As you explore this evaluation tool, we are also committed to helping you find the best resources to improve engagement with your residents.  Here are some places you can start:

  • Training: The Davenport Institute offers both full-day and half-day trainings in the basics of public engagement, including aligning purpose and process. We also offer a shorter, executive seminar for upper level management and a variety of customized trainings. Or perhaps you are ready to tackle the world of online engagement. Our Gov 2.0 training is a great place to start. For more information on all of these options, visit our training page. Ready for something deeper, or looking to train engagement facilitators? We are happy to direct you to outside organizations offering facilitation and other trainings in the public engagement field. Email us to set up a call to discuss your particular needs.
  • Grant-making: Is a lack of resources to hire an outside consultant or facilitator holding you back from embarking on a project you would love to undertake in your community?  Each year the Institute offers a number of public engagement grants to help California cities, counties, special districts, and civic organizations engage residents across a variety of issues.  For more information, check out our annual grants page.
  • Resources: The Davenport Institute is committed to connecting cities to the public engagement resources that will help them succeed in legitimate public engagement. Check out the News & Resources pages on our website, and explore links to outside resources.  And don’t forget to follow our public engagement blogs: Incommon and Gov 20 Watch.
  • Personalized strategizing and consulting: Looking for something more specific? We can help connect you to our broad rolodex of public engagement consultants, facilitators, and experts across the state. Email us to set up a call to discuss what support your organization needs to meet your public engagement goals.

Fill out the evaluation to find out how your public engagement process is and/or apply to be rated as a publicly engaged city here.

About the Davenport InstituteDavenport_Institute
Since our founding as a multi-partisan and non-profit organization in 2005, The Davenport Institute (formerly Common Sense California) has worked to engage the citizens of this state in the policy decisions that affect our everyday lives. It is our firm belief that, in today’s world of easy access to information, and easy connectivity to others, California’s municipal and education leaders are seeking ways to involve the residents of their communities in the important issues they confront. Done legitimately, this new kind of leadership produces better, more creative policy solutions and better, more engaged citizens committed to the hard work of self-governance.

Follow on Twitter: @DavenportInst

Resource Link: publicpolicy.pepperdine.edu/davenport-institute/evaluating-engagement/

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