Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership | Pepperdine University School of Public Policy

Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership


The mission of the Davenport Institute is to help build stronger communities in California by promoting public participation in local governance. We work with local governments, non-profit organizations, and residents to both promote and support constructive and broad-based civic involvement in decisions that affect people where they live and work. We strive to be a champion of public engagement as a 21st Century leadership skill for governments and residents to succeed together. Find out more about the Davenport Institute

"The Davenport Institute's focus on best practices and emerging techniques in civic engagement gives hope to better policy-making and governance.  Greater public participation and trust in local government fosters more effective local representative democracy in California. Civic engagement is a game changer for the good and the Davenport Institute is leading this change."

- Rod Gould, City Manager, City of Santa Monica (retired)

By The Numbers: Promoting Public Engagement In California

people trained

municipalities impacted

grants awarded

Davenport Institute Training


The Davenport Institute believes that legitimate public engagement produces both better policy solutions and better citizens. We currently offer three seminars to help local and regional leaders improve their public engagement skills. All seminars are aimed toward mid-and upper-level department management, city and county managers, elected officials, civic leaders, and other leaders in local and regional government organizations. 

Writing on a whiteboard - Pepperdine University


The Davenport Institute works both directly and indirectly to support citizen engagement projects. We know the specific strengths of various methodologies and can serve as a "matchmaker" between municipalities and professional firms. We also connect creative leaders around the state with others who are looking for a more "home-grown" solution to their particular policy challenges.

Citizen Engagement Grant Program - Pepperdine University

Grant Making 

Since 2008 (then as Common Sense California), our annual grants have supported cities, counties, special districts, and civic organizations endeavoring to engage their residents on issues ranging from budgets to land use to public safety and more. In 2014, we launched an additional grant in partnership with The Village Square, to help communities build capacity for civic engagement.

SPP, Davenport, News & Resources - classroom

Do you know how your government measures up when it comes to engaging residents? "How are WE Doing?" allows local governments to self-evaluate and apply for recognition as a "publicly engaged city" at one of three levels: Platinum, Gold, and Silver. To the right you will find some resources to help you get to the next level.


Davenport Institute Conferences


The Davenport Institute's affiliation with the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy offers us an opportunity to host and co-host conferences and seminars relating to public engagement here on the beautiful Pepperdine Campus in Malibu, California. 


Professional Certificate in Public Engagement

Join us in Malibu July 28-30 to learn how to be a publicly engaged leader in this intensive course designed for mid-career local government professionals.



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inCommon is the Davenport Institute's Participatory Governance Blog. It explores the latest resources, studies, programs and discussions about Civic Engagement in California, throughout the nation and around the world in order to answer questions about what civic engagement looks like and why it is important for good governance, particularly at the local level.

Read inCommon

Government 2.0 Watch

Government 2.0 Watch offers a one-stop resource for information relating to how governments around the world use social media, geolocation, mobile apps and other technological innovations to interact with their residents. Are these tools offering new opportunities for civic engagement? Are they changing the way residents view their role in local government, creating new opportunities for citizen involvement? Or are they cementing old ideas of citizens as customers by facilitating the delivery of government services?

Read Government 2.0 Watch