a stronger culture of citizenship
The Civic Collaboratory is a national network of catalytic leaders, from across the political spectrum and many domains – immigrant rights, veterans advocacy, civics education, voting reform, tech in government, arts and culture, worker organizing, corporate citizenship, and more. We meet quarterly and provide a common platform and project incubator for this diverse community of civic innovators.
Parades, street theatre, open-air debates, and festivals – these were once part of America’s culture of voting and it’s time to revive them. By partnering with artists, activists, designers, and citizens, we are launching initiatives in several cities to create creative, communal experiences and rituals around local voting.
What is power? How is it exercised in civic life? Who has it and why? Such questions go to the heart of self-government — but most people are fundamentally illiterate in power. That’s why we’re creating accessible learning materials on civic power. Here are some of our early products: the first of a series of animated TED-Ed videos on the sources of civic power; and a self-paced online course developed with the Aspen Institute and iTunesU on the crisis of citizenship in America today.TED-Ed videosTED Talk on PoweriTunesU
We wanted to get folks talking about what it means to be an American —and how to live like a citizen. So we created a simple and fun ceremony, like the one immigrants go through when they become U.S. citizens, in which all of us get to renew our vows to America. Thousands of people across the country, through partners like Points of Light, the National Constitution Center, and OneAmerica, have taken the oath to become Sworn-Again Americans— and you can too!Visit the Site
We work with great partners to design and build learning sessions that promote the art of powerful citizenship. We’re running a civic leadership program for Yale College undergraduates and we’ve developed a new civic leadership course for Arizona State University. New York’s 92 Street Y is a deep partner on projects like the Ben Franklin Clubs, monthly circles of friends who gather as Franklin once did to intentionally cultivate civic virtues.
Past projects include a White House Forum on Citizen Problem-Solving; convenings in Hollywood with the Creative Artists Agency and UCLA on embedding civic storylines into television shows; and a national speaker series on reimagining worker organizing with SEIU. We’ve worked with the Downtown Project in Las Vegas to host a Catalyst Week of citizenship-themed events, and with Meetup to launch #MeetupMonday, a national series of neighbor-to-neighbor conversations on race and rebuilding community. In collaboration with Tufts’ Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, we authored a report on America’s Civic Renewal Moment. And there’s more!
Complementing our work at Citizen University is a new program at the Aspen Institute also led by Eric Liu. This program focuses on the intellectual work of sustaining coherent national identity in an age of demographic flux and severe inequality. Projects include What Every American Should Know, a crowd-sourced compendium for the 21st century; and the Pluribus Project, an initiative to generate and spread new narratives of citizen empowerment.Learn More