a stronger culture of citizenship


circulating power

Our newest program, CitizenFEST, is a series of free festive summits on how to exercise civic power held in three communities across the country. At each CitizenFEST, we’ll teach the skills and values of powerful citizenship, bringing our unique brand of art, creativity, and communal ritual. And we’ll invite groups often cut out of civic clout. This is a time when our country needs more people to show up in more places to practice power in more ways. Join us!


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Bring CitizenFEST to you!

This is a time when our country needs more people to show up in more places to practice power in more ways.

For over a decade, Citizen University has held our annual National Conference in Seattle. It’s a special gathering. And in recent years we’ve been asked to bring our conference experience to other parts of the country – and to people who can’t get to Seattle.

Well, we’ve listened. And we have two big announcements. 

First, we’re making our National Conference a biennial event – which means the next one will in Seattle March 22 & 23, 2019. In the meantime, we invite you to participate in our other programs.

Second, we’re going to spend 2018 taking our show on the road with CitizenFEST! Check back soon for updates.

Check back soon for dates and locations.

Should CitizenFEST come to your city? Let us know!


Civic Saturday

Fellowship and Common Purpose

Civic Saturday is a civic analogue to church: a gathering of friends and strangers in a common place to nurture a spirit of shared purpose. But it’s not about church religion or synagogue or mosque religion. It’s about American civic religion—the creed of liberty, equality, and self-government that truly unites us. At Civic Saturday, we gather, we sing, we share readings of American civic scripture, we hear poetry, stories and a civic sermon. It is free and open to all.

To our friends and partners across the country, we have two exciting announcements:
First, we’re taking Civic Saturday on the road (and beyond just Saturdays!). Second, we’re launching Citizen University Civic Seminary, to cultivate a cohort of twenty leaders from around the country to bring Civic Saturday home.

For updates join our mailing list & Facebook.

Seattle Dates
Civic Saturday National
Past Sermons
Civic Seminary: Apply here!

The Citizen University Civic Seminary will prepare everyday citizens to lead their communities to renew a shared sense of civic power and moral purpose. Fellows will explore the ethical foundations of their beliefs (and those of others), learn to craft and deliver catalytic sermons that draw on both the current day and the civic traditions of our society, and ultimately create a Civic Saturday Program where they live and work. 

Applications are due Monday, November 6, 2017.

Civic Seminary Application

Over the next 18 months we’ll be traveling to 10 cities across the country, partnering with local organizations to bring Civic Saturday to a diverse range of communities. 

In the coming weeks we’ll be deciding where to go, choosing towns that are large and small, urban and rural. Should we come to your community? Let us know!

November 18, 2017 | 10:30am – 12pm | Elliott Bay Book Company

December 16, 2017 | 10:30am – 12pm | TBD

February 3, 2018 | 10:30am – 12pm | TBD

May 5, 2018 | 10:30am – 12pm | TBD

October 6, 2018 | 10:30am – 12pm | TBD

December 15, 2018 | 10:30am – 12pm | TBD

February 2, 2018 | 10:30am – 12pm | TBD


In Search of Powerful Citizenship? Try Civic Saturday.

If Sunday Is For Church, This Group Wants Saturdays For Activism
The Huffington Post

A Cure For Post Election Malaise
The Atlantic 

Infinite Power

Team photo

Youth Power Project

empowering the rising generation

This two-year effort, supported by a grant from the Ford Foundation, has two components: an online, multi-media curriculum on civic power, and a series of Youth Collaboratory meetings to empower and connect a rising generation of civic leaders and doers. The application is open now to apply for the 2018 Youth Collaboratory.

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Collaboratory Application

In this era of economic and political inequality, the work of power literacy is especially urgent, nowhere more so than in the rising generation of young people who will be facing the consequences of today’s polarization and inequality for years to come. Armed with the knowledge, skills, connections, and experience of the Youth Civic Power Curriculum and the Youth Collaboratory, our diverse cohort of passionate young people will be prepared to be true leaders of civic change in America for the next generation.

The Youth Power Curriculum is under development. Please check back soon!

The 2018 Youth Collaboratory cohort will consist of 24 highly-motivated students from around the country who are passionate about civic engagement and making a positive change in their communities and country.  Members of the Youth Collaboratory will travel to cities around the nation, meet leading civic innovators from across the country, participate in interactive workshops, and complete independent projects in their communities. This is a unique and exciting opportunity to be connected to a network of incredible change-makers and gain the skills and connections for a lifetime of civic power. All costs are included in the program for those selected.

The program includes:

  • Travel, accommodations, and meals to attend three meetings of the Youth Collaboratory in 2018:
    • February 21-23 in Simi Valley, CA
    • June 13-15 in Kansas City, MO
    • September 19-22 in Charlottesville, VA
  • Tools, resources, and workshop trainings to become powerful, engaged citizen leaders
  • Connections with civic innovators and mentors
  • Connections with other student leaders and innovators from around the country

Who is eligible:

  • Applicants must be current High School sophomores and juniors at the time of applying
  • Applicants must live in the United States
  • Applicants must be able to attend all three Youth Collaboratory meetings
  • Students who come from backgrounds that historically have less access to power and civic opportunity are especially encouraged to apply, specifically young people of color, immigrants, and young women.


The Joy of Voting

Reinvigorating a Culture of Voting

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. With the support of the Knight Foundation, we’re partnering with artists, activists, designers, and citizens in cities around the country to launch initiatives to create creative, communal experiences and rituals around local voting. 

Click “Current Projects” below to learn about the projects happening this month in St. Paul, Wichita, and Miami!

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Video & Photos
Current Projects

Joy of Voting 2017

We will select up to five projects in each pilot city to receive funding for implementation. Project proposals will be evaluated based on their ability to 1) Successfully cultivate a joyful, participatory culture of voting, 2) Show promise to be durable and scale-able, 3) Use funds effectively, 4) Present a qualified and well-rounded team, 5) Focus on local elections, and 6) Demonstrate creativity, innovation, and joyfulness.
  • Describe briefly what the project is and what it will entail, including the proposed timeline – will this be an on-going project, or a one-off event? Will it take place on election day or in the time leading up to it?
  • Projects should be joyful, creative, participatory, and non-partisan. Describe how your project fits these requirements.
  • Who are the people or organizations creating the project, and who is the target audience?
  • What is the budget for this project (up to $3600), and how will it be used?


Deriving its vision from an article in The Atlantic written by Eric Liu, Citizen University will launch initiatives in seven cities where Knight invests to generate creative celebrations and joyful public rituals that encourage people to vote.

Citizen University piloted the program in four cities for the November 2016 general election. Projects included independent art exhibits, block parties, community-based theater, interactive apps, and other citizen-generated activities centered around engaging peers.

This year, the projects will move out of the federal domain to focus on local elections taking place in each city. In Miami, St. Paul, and Wichita, we will partner with local stakeholders to develop initiatives centered on municipal elections taking place on November 7, 2017. Joy of Voting will continue in 2018 when it moves to four other cities around the country hosting local and midterm elections. These experiments will serve as models of what a vibrant, participatory culture of voting could look like. Follow this project, and share your own ideas via Twitter using the hashtag #JoyOfVoting.

Learn more about last year’s projects 


2017 projects are off and running! See photos here.


Check out photos from 2016 projects here.






These teams are bringing an active, joyful, participatory culture back to voting! Check back for more details.


St. Paul


Improv Comedy Mayoral Forum

The Theater of Public Policy 

Join the Theater of Public Policy for a night of laughter and levity as the leading mayoral candidates answer questions and have their answers brought to life through unscripted improv comedy! The team will host “A St. Paul Mayoral Forum for the Rest of Us” on November 3rd at the North Garden Theater. Info here!


Wag the Vote

Arty Bark Park 

Politics gone to the Dogs? Unleash democracy with Wag the Vote, a canine convergence to get out the vote to dog lovers all over St. Paul! Follow them on Facebook or Twitter to stay up-to-date with all their latest barks, and check out their website for the full story!


I Vote Because . . .

Concordia University St. Paul 

Using conversation and photography, CSP College Students want to inspire their community to vote. Look for CSP students at light rail transit stations to share why YOU vote on a custom banner that says “I vote because  ____________.”


Street Puppet Theater

Monkeybear’s Harmolodic Workshop 

Look out for Monkeybear’s Harmolodic Workshop on the streets of St. Paul while they spread the word through unique performances by their hand-crafted puppets! You find at the West Side Dia de los Muertos Celebration 2017 and other locations around town!




Get Out the Vote Parties

New Florida Majority Education Fund

The New Florida Majority will host GOTV parties during the early voting period (October 28 – Novemver 5) in West Coconut Grove, Little Havana, Allapattah, Liberty City, and Little Haiti. Stop by to cast your vote and enjoy a lively gathering with BBQ, live music, media coverage, and educational handouts. Dates, times, locations, and info here!


Inside Joke

Comic Cure 

Inside Joke with Host Billy Corben is a monthly late-night style entertainment show that humorously highlights important local issues and community change-makers in Miami. Filmed in font of a live audience, the show features interviews with local politicians and civic activists, with performances by local artists. Comic Cure hosted their hilarious premier episode on November 17th! You can see photos from the event on their Facebook page.


Fall Harvest Party to the Polls

Engage Miami 

Hay rides and apple cider in Miami?!? That’s right!  Engage Miami’s fall harvest-themed party will feature live music, food, trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, bobbing for apples, and mock elections for best costumes, best pumpkin carving, and more! Join them November 4th in Kennedy Park for a celebration of fall before heading to early vote. Event details here.


305 Yard Sign Project

Miami Dade College  

So over divisive political yard signs? The 305 Yard Sign Project will use art to promote positive, values-driven civic engagement using colorful, personlized yard signs designed by local artists and students.


Your Ballot, Explained

The Plantain 

The Plantain, Miami’s satire news source, is making a comedy news video focused on voting rights restoration for ex-felons, an initiative on this fall’s ballot. Keep a look out for the video to be released later this month!




PopUp Celebration Station

League of Creative Interventionists  

Ever dreamed of winning an election with a crowd cheering you on? With the pop-up Voting Celebration Station, you get to experience the joy of “winning the vote” on stage, with a crowd cheering your name and a microphone for you to share your own victory speech. Find the Pop Up Station at McAdams Neighborhood Freedom Fair on November 4th!


Canine Candidates

Sara Dixon & Stephanie Huff   

Canine Candidates tackle issues ICT dogs face: from the new dog park to pesky squirrels. Vote on the pup with the passion to improve this city! Get the low-down on all the candidates and where you can find them here!


Breaking the Ballot

First Gen Woes 

Add your narrative to this community conversation! First Gen Woes will host a spoken word contest for high school students at Mead’s Corner coffee shop downtown. Register here!


Sizzle and Soapbox

Episcopal Social Services 

Let your voice be heard with a sizzle at the soapbox series this fall! ESS invites neighbors, activists, and public officials to get join their Soap Box series and share their thoughts around this year’s local elections. They will also host a voter registration poster contest to put the sizzle back into voting.



KMUW 89.1 FM  

KMUW will work with local artists to create a series of ‘VoteICT’ wearable stickers. Get yours at a polling place or another Joy of Voting event, and show your local pride around this year’s municipal elections by sporting your unique ICT-specific sticker. Learn more.


Citizen University TV

Lessons in Civic Power

Our award-winning show offers lessons in how to be an effective, change-making citizen. Every episode features case studies of leadership in action and breaks down the elements of civic power.


Civic Power

a curriculum for all of us

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: animated videos created with TED-Ed on the sources of civic power and how to turn protest into powerful change; and a self-paced online course developed with the Aspen Institute and iTunesU on the crisis of citizenship in America today.

TED-Ed: Power
TED-Ed: Protest

Civic Collaboratory

a national network of leaders

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.


Partnered Productions

Special Projects

We work with great partners to design and build learning sessions that promote the art of powerful citizenship. We are proud to have partnered with Starbucks to create a Discussion Guide for Educators and Citizen Changemakers for the new campaign Upstanders, a series of 10 short films about ordinary Americans doing extraordinary things to create positive civic and social impact. We’re running a civic leadership program for Yale College undergraduates and we’ve developed a new civic leadership course for Arizona State University. We’ve partnered with the Kennedy Center and the Aspen Institute Arts Program for the Kennedy Center Arts Summit, and we are a long-time partner with New York’s 92 Street Y on projects like the Ben Franklin Circles, monthly gatherings of friends who meet as Franklin once did to intentionally cultivate civic virtues.

Past Projects

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.

Sworn-Again America

Renew your civic vows

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!

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