2012 Grant Projects
In 2012, the Davenport Institute offered a total of approximately $50,000 to fund professional consultants to work with four grantees on facilitated public forums. Consultants worked with grantees to design public sessions and to facilitate deliberations among residents, stakeholders, and government representatives.
Grant awards also included training and consultation from the Davenport Institute prior to beginning the public engagement campaigns in order to build understanding and support for the civic engagement effort amongst administrative and elected officials.
The following projects were supported by grants in 2012:
1. City of Vallejo - Participatory Budgeting
Project Description: In 2012, the City of Vallejo undertook the first citywide Participatory Budgeting (PB) Process in the United States, giving residents a chance to decide how to spend over $3 million in revenue from a local sales tax measure.
Participatory Budgeting was first developed in Brazil and is now practiced around the world. As the Vallejo PB website notes, "Though each PB initiative looks different, the process generally involves several months of public meetings, discussions, and voting, so that the public has time to make wise decisions."
In Vallejo, residents and stakeholders were invited to develop projects in a series of community meetings during the second half of 2012. In May 2013, nearly 4,000 community members turned out for a special election to prioritize projects for city council approval.
Visit the PB Vallejo site here.
Final research reports on the PB Vallejo process coming soon.
2. City of San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department - Community Recreation Councils
Project Description: The City of San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department (RPD) administers more than 220 neighborhood parks and playgrounds, and over 4,000 acres of recreational and open spaces. Working to develop a more engaged and collaborative relationship with the community, RPD created 7-member Community Recreation Councils in each of RPD's 34 Rec Centers. These councils are representative of the diverse cross-section of each community.
As RPD sought to advance their Community Recreation Council (CRC) approach to program planning they turned to the Davenport Institute for both training and support in preparing the CRCs to engage the wider community in a strategic visioning and action-planning process. Grant funds were used to conduct a pilot project for a large-scale community engagement at one center that could be used as a model at the remaining 33 Rec Centers and provide training to RPD personnel and CRC members on large-group process planning and facilitation.
3. County of Humboldt - Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Update
Project Description: Prosperity 2012 was a county-wide community engagement aimed at updating Humboldt County's Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). Early in 2012 the county hosted a number of public meetings and convened 18 Citizen Action Teams that offered numerous recommendations to address the County's economic situation. Prosperity 2012 sought to increase resident knowledge of how the economy works; to generate citizen ideas for how to build a healthy community and economy; to refine and synthesize ideas into a viable CEDS that would guide residents, government, business, and non-profit investments in the economy; and to structure and facilitate opportunities for residents to engage constructively with decision makers.
The Davenport Institute grant began supporting the process during the final decision-making stage. As the county put it in their grant application: "We want each citizen—whether parent, student, business owner, worker, policy maker— to see an action they could take to build a more prosperous economy. Business will be able to invest where they can make difference. Non-profit organizations will craft and implement solutions. Government entities will allocate resources for coordinated implementation."
You can visit the Prosperity 2012 website here.
4. Western Riverside Council of Governments - Subregional Climate Action Plan
WRCOG is a sub-regional planning agency whose purpose is to unify Western Riverside County so that it can speak with a collective voice on important issues that affect its members. The nature of environmental issues, like reducing greenhouse gas emissions, requires a regional approach. The Council is seeking to engage residents in developing a regional Climate Action Plan (CAP).
In order for the CAP to be successful, it must be adopted by local jurisdictions throughout the region. Given the controversy of many environmental regulations, and the potential impact of climate change on both the economy and environment of Western Riverside County, WRCOG values the importance of reaching out early to receive constructive input that will better inform the development of recommended GHG reduction measures to be implemented in Western Riverside County.
The process has both an on-line and in-person element. Through the Davenport Institute Civic Engagement Grant, WRCOG will be able to utilize an online engagement platform to involve residents who are not traditionally engaged in local or regional decisions.
In 2012, the Davenport Institute also recognized three additional "training grantees" who received a complimentary session of the "Public Engagement: The Vital Leadership Skill in Difficult Times" training session. These were the City of Hayward, the City of East Palo Alto and the City of Desert Hot Springs.