Northern California Grantmakers (NCG) and Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) Present a Special-Issue Briefing

Expanding Our Vision of Civic Engagement:
Advancing Practices for Community Change

April 6, 2010
9:00 am – 12 noon

San Francisco State Downtown Center
835 Market Street, Room 609
San Francisco, CA

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Civic engagement is a contested term that is used to describe a range of activities including voting, participation in public meetings, advocacy work, or the level of attachment and volunteerism residents bring to their communities. Two main strands of active civic engagement are community organizing and deliberative democracy. Practitioners of both of these approaches mobilize ordinary people to influence public decision-making and sometimes participate in public problem solving-yet how they frame their work can differ markedly.

Community organizers describe their work mainly in terms of “social justice” and “equity” while deliberative democrats emphasize “public participation” and “democratic renewal.” Though other tensions exist as well, there are also emerging opportunities for these sets of practitioners to inform and support each other’s work in a time of expanding interest in new models of active civic engagement.

This program will address these themes and the role of engaged funders via a highly participatory World Café format.

Come join us to explore the following questions:

  1. What are you funding in relation to civic engagement, broadly defined? What are you learning about “what works”-the tools, perspectives, and approaches that are most effective?
  2. In terms of civic engagement, what questions or possibilities are you most interested in exploring now in your work?
  3. How might we as funders better support one another in promoting civic engagement as a way to build community and advance social change?

As a jumping off point, program participants will review highlights of a recent paper by Matt Leighninger, “Creating Spaces for Change: Working Towards a ‘Story of Now’ in Civic Engagement” (PDF). The paper was commissioned by W.K. Kellogg Foundation as part of its Civic Engagement Learning Year, in partnership with PolicyLink and delves into the challenges and opportunities in trying to bring together and cross-fertilize “community organizing” and “deliberative democracy” approaches to civic engagement.

Target Audience:
This program is free and open to NCG. Grantmakers who don’t necessarily see themselves as “democracy” funders are encouraged to see relevance to their work-regardless of program area.

Kara Carlisle is a Program Officer of the Civic Engagement team at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. She focuses on citizen participation and engagement, public philanthropy and new models for movement building as she develops innovative partnerships, and promotes civic and philanthropic engagement in a wide range of sectors and professional spheres.

Chris Gates is the first Executive Director of PACE, Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement. In this role, Gates speaks extensively around the country and around the world on the broad topics of civic engagement, including civic education, leadership training, community problem solving, political reform and democratic renewal.

Tom Hurley is currently guiding the global evolution of the World Café and serves as a senior advisor and executive coach for leaders seeking innovative approaches to key strategic issues and large-scale systems change. He is a board member of the World Café Community Foundation and the Berkana Institute.

Matt Leighninger is the Executive Director of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium (DDC), an alliance of the major organizations and leading scholars working in the field of deliberation and public engagement. The DDC represents more than 50 foundations, nonprofit organizations and universities, collaborating to support research activities and advance democratic practice, in North America and around the world.

Walter and Elise Haas Fund
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Whitman Institute


Other Upcoming NCG Programs:

For a complete listing of NCG programs please visit the NCG Calendar of Events: