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 public 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. Public 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.

public engagement certificate

Are you ready to take the next step in becoming a publicly engaged leader? Our first-of-it's kind certificate program offers a long weekend deep dive into the context, purpose, and best practices for engaging a broad cross-section of residents. This intensive course is designed for mid-career local government professionals as well as for those who work alongside local government to involve residents in the decisions that shape our communities. 


Evaluation Platform

Evaluation and Recognition

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. 



Our affiliation with the Pepperdine School of Public Policy offers us an opportunity to co-host conferences relating to public engagement here in Malibu, CA.



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