a stronger culture of citizenship



CitizenFEST is a festive learning summit on how to exercise civic power, held in three communities across the country. Activists, artists, and everyday citizens come together for a unique blend of art, creativity, and the concrete skills of effective change-making. Our country needs more people to show up in more places to practice power in more ways. Join us!

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Dates & Locations

How do you get your voice heard? How do you change a rigged system? How do you stir others out of apathy or connect with those with whom you disagree? We’ll tackle these questions and more in a day and a half of skill-building workshops, artistic performances, and deep community conversations. Participants will leave with practical strategies of civic power to apply in their own work, new connections with community members, and new ideas and inspiration for the work at hand.

Our goal is to make registration as accessible and inclusive as possible, which is why it’s free to attend CitizenFEST. Check back soon for more information about registering.

We’ll share more information soon about event schedules, presenters, and more. Stay tuned!

May 11-12: New Orleans, LA

in partnership with the Family Independence Initiative

Learn more about this past event here.


September 7-8: Dallas, TX

in partnership with the Embrey Family Foundation

Learn more and register here.


October 12-13: Memphis, TN

in partnership with The Fourth Bluff

Learn more and register here.


Fellowship and Common Purpose

Civic Saturday

Civic Saturday is a civic analogue to a faith gathering: 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.

Civic Saturday began in Seattle, and this year, is expanding to cities across the country. See the full list of dates below!

For updates join our mailing list & Facebook.

Attend Civic Saturday
Past Sermons

There are three ways to attend Civic Saturday:

(1) Come to a gathering in Seattle
(2) Join us at one of our 8 partner events in cities across the country
(3) Attend a Seminary-led Civic Saturday, organized by our incredible cohort of “Civic Seminarians” who are bringing the movement to their home communities.


Seattle Dates 

National Dates   

Civic Seminarian Dates 

April 28
January 20: New York, NY
Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater
April 28: Indianapolis, IN
Glendale Library
June 2
El Centro de la Raza
March 31: Nashville, TN
The Basement East
May 5: Phoenix, AZ
August 4
Hillman City Collaboratory
May 5: Des Moines, IA
Grand View University
May 26: Chicago, IL
October 20
Fremont Abbey
June 23: Atlanta, GA June 16: Pinehurst, NC
Dec 8
Location TBD
Sep 29: Portland, ME
Portland Public Library
June 30: Georgetown, TX
Nov 10: Los Angeles, CA
Skirball Cultural Center
July 7: Portland, OR
Dec 15: Lincoln, NE Aug 11: Washington, DC
Aug 18: Chicago, IL
Sep 8: Washington, DC
Sep 29: St. Petersburg, FL
Oct 3: Cookeville, TN
Oct 27: Nashville, TN
Nov 17: Athens, TN

Information will be updated as it becomes available, so check back often!


A Divided Heart 11/12/16

Present at the Creation 11/26/16

If We Can Keep It 12/17/16

Alternate Realities 1/14/17

Where Is America? 2/4/17

A Great Awakening 4/8/17 ~ Listen here

Legitimate Doubts 5/20/17 ~ Listen here

Fear and Hoarding 6/17/17

Still More Perfect 9/16/17

Gratitude, Luck, Risk 10/1/17

A Thanksgiving Recipe 11/18/17
Bonus: Naa Akua’s poem, Power to the People 

A Practicing Citizen 12/16/17

The Citizen Artist 1/20/18
Hosted by The Public Theater in New York City, NY

Which Dream Do You Dream? 2/3/18 ~ Watch here

Become America 3/31/18
Hosted by Briteheart at The Basement East in Nashville, TN

Time Travel 4/28/18 ~ Watch here

A Test of Our Citizenship 5/5/18
Delivered at Grand View University in Des Moines, IA

Are We Enough? 6/2/18 ~ Watch here

Too Busy to Love 6/23/18
Delivered at the Center for Civic Innovation in Atlanta, GA

Reading Our Country 8/4/18


Citizen University is for everyone
New Day Northwest 

2017 Artists of the Year
City Arts

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

Preparing Citizens to Lead

Civic Seminary

The Citizen University Civic Seminary prepares everyday citizens to lead their communities toward a renewed sense of shared civic power and moral purpose. Seminarians 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 for the 2019 Class are now open, click “Apply” below for more!

Learn More

We launched the Civic Seminary to meet the rising demand for Civic Saturday gatherings in other places, and to allow citizen leaders to shape a Civic Saturday practice in their own communities. Since completing the program, our inaugural class of Civic Seminarians have held Civic Saturdays in cities across the country, from St. Petersburg, FL to Georgetown, TX to the south side of Chicago and everywhere in between.

The 2019 class of Civic Seminary Fellows will be selected in November 2018 for one of our four cohorts. Fellows will attend one Seminary Training in Seattle, WA before leading Civic Saturdays in their own communities.

2019 Applications are now open, and can be found by clicking “Apply”.

Applications for the 2019 Civic Seminary are now open! Program information, dates, and application instructions can be found in the link below.

Civic Seminary 2019 Application

Applications are due October 10, 2018. For more information, contact

Empowering the Rising Generation

Youth Power Project

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.

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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. The 24 selected students will travel to 3 meetings of the Youth Collaboratory 2018 in Simi Valley, CA, Kansas City. MO, and Charlottesville, VA.

To be notified when 2019 applications become available, please fill out our interest form.

Lessons in Civic Power

Citizen University TV

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.


Reinvigorating a Culture of Voting

Joy 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.

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Video & Photos
Projects & Events

Deriving its vision from an article in The Atlantic written by Eric Liu, Citizen University has launched 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, and in three more for local elections in 2017. Projects included independent art exhibits, block parties, community-based theater, interactive apps, and other citizen-generated activities centered around engaging peers.

Joy of Voting continues in 2018 in 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 past projects:

2016 projects 

2017 Projects


JUST ADDED! Photos from 2018 events here.

Check out photos from our 2017 projects here.

Check out photos from our 2016 projects here.








This year the Joy of Voting project will be taking place in four cities around the country.

Projects have kicked-off in Charlotte and Grand Forks and are soon to be joined by projects in Akron and West Palm Beach!


The Southeast Asian Coalition’s (SEAC) characteristic “turn up” style party will take place near the city’s early voting sites. Come turn-up with Viet coffee and Thai tea, then learn all about local candidates political issues from SEAC members. The event will focus on educating and engaging Meckenburg County’s Southeast Asian voters.

The 49er Democracy Experience’s Get-Out-the-Student-Vote-Festival seeks to attract, educate, and involve the UNCC student body. While festival-goers enjoy food, games, and musical performances from UNCC groups, local government officials and candidates will be in attendance to chat and answer questions

Hannah Hasan and her group Epoch Tribe will host a “We The People” open mic night that celebrates voting through live performances that span the artistic spectrum, from visual to performance culinary — all by local creatives and all centered around the theme of civic engagement.

For its inaugural Brews & Ballots event, The Millennial Voice of Mecklenburg County invites their peers to share beers with local political candidates at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery. Get your card signed by five politicians and receive a complimentary beer while you get your election-related questions answered!  

Lisette Torres, Dammit Wesley, and Carlos Lebron’s community event “One Nation Under a Groove,” taking place at Charlotte’s Camp North, will feature unique pieces by local artists, simulations of voting booths for kids or new voters, a photo booth, information on the history of voting, a historically-rooted fashion show with outfits made from recycled materials — and more!  

Grand Forks

ArtNestND invites high school students to create unique “I voted” stickers. Following the open contest, organizers will select seven unique designs — one to be used at each of the seven polling locations in Grand Forks.

The Global Friends Coalition and New Flavors Food Truck will hold three events to celebrate citizenship and demonstrate the pathway toward its pinnacle: voting. Voting123, held in neighborhoods where new Americans live or go to school, will be inclusive block parties with food trucks, entertainment, and hands-on education.

Want to vote in style? Robin David’s “Party to the Polls” project will offer Grand Forks residents the opportunity to get a ride to their polling place aboard a party bus. The busses will offer snacks, activities, and a celebrity host, as well as give voters the chance to socialize and debate with co-workers before casting their ballot.

The Young Invincibles will host four large celebrations — three during early voting and one on Election Day — at polling locations around town and on the UND campus. Enjoy free food and entertainment with fellow civically-minded Grand Forkeans!

The Digital Press at UND, led by professor Eric Burin, will be soliciting, collecting, and sharing favorite voting memories from Grand Forks residents. After gathering recollections from times of yore, the Press will design unique representations for each one and add them to their publication. Look for one or two a day in the Press in the month leading up to Election Day!


Check back soon for more updates on projects and events!

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.

A national network of leaders

Civic Collaboratory

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.


A Civic Gathering Like No Other

National Conference

Our long-running National Conference has been held in Seattle for over a decade. 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. We’ll be on the road with CitizenFEST for 2018, which means we will not be having a National Conference this year. We’ve made our National Conference a biannual gathering – which means we’ll be back in Seattle for the next one in 2019.

renew your civic vows

Sworn-Again America

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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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.