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DC's Progress

Please let us know, if you can take the time

to learn about the citywide results of the 2017 Age-Friendly DC Community Consultations

and other forms of community engagement



Community Conversation
on the
Measurement of Civic Engagement at the Local Level

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is supporting a series of projects across the United States that are exploring ways to improve measurement of volunteering and civic engagement activities at the local or neighborhood level; and how to better capture and describe various facets of civic life which may be linked to other important indicators of individual and community wellbeing.

In support of this initiative, the Washington, DC Community Conversations Team – comprised of Guardians of Honor, LLC (GOH), the George Washington University, Age Friendly DC, and Washington Area Villages Exchange (WAVE) – has recently completed various interviews, observations, community consultations, and focus groups seeking to better understand what “civic engagement” and “volunteerism” mean to older Americans, how they talk about and think about these activities, the mechanisms by which they engage and volunteer, and why they choose to engage in these activities.

Given your expertise and interest in these issues, we hope you will join us Wednesday, September 27, 2017 from 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm at the True Reformer Building located at 1200 U Street, NW Washington, DC 20009 to learn about our partners’ current initiatives and to contribute to a discussion on the team’s findings.

Background on the CNCS Community Conversations Initiative

The CNCS is a federal agency that administers the AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and Social Innovation Fund programs. CNCS, in collaboration with the U.S. Census, also conducts surveys of U.S. residents across the country that seek to measure volunteering and civic engagement activities.

In 2012, CNCS enlisted the National Academy of Sciences to evaluate and recommend ways to improve CNCS and U.S. Census measurement efforts, and in 2014 the NAS issued its report. The Academy directed CNCS to consider measuring civic engagement at the local or neighborhood level. Measures of civic activity at this level of analysis could prove useful in capturing the various facets of civic life that may not be included in the national surveys and could potentially be linked to other social issues including: health, crime, employment, volunteering, community efficacy, and other emergent social issues.

To assess the feasibility of measuring civic engagement at the local level, and inform future efforts, CNCS has funded and implemented four exploratory projects in San Marcos, CA; Richmond, VA; Flint, MI; and Washington, DC.

The purpose of these projects is to assess various methodologies and innovative strategies to capture data and stories on how neighbors come together to solve problems or address issues within their communities; and highlight various facets of local civic engagement, community capacity and volunteering. More specifically, the projects have aimed to:

  1. Identify examples of how volunteering and civic engagement, “at the community level,” are manifest;

  2. Identify factors that promote or inhibit the realization of these activities;

  3. Identify practices that can potentially strengthen the capacity of local communities to foster civic engagement and volunteering;

  4. Enhance the capacity of communities to measure these activities and their outcomes; and/or

  5. Assess the relative feasibility of various data collection strategies for community level Civic Engagement.


Actions by Mayor and DC Council

  • The District of Columbia launched the Age-Friendly DC Initiative in October 2012 and since that time, much has been undertaken to benefit older residents and their caregivers.
  • The Age-Friendly DC Strategic Plan was released December 10, 2014. It marked a significant step on the District's journey to become an age-friendly city under the terms of the World Health Organization (WHO) Age-Friendly Environments initiative. The plan identifies 77 strategies and names more than 70 partner agencies and organizations in- and outside government.
  • On October 3, 2012, the Mayor signaled the District's interest in becoming an Age-Friendly City as part of the pilot AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities through the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities. The goal of this program is to provide a system to educate, encourage, promote and recognize improvements that make cities, towns and counties more user-friendly not only for their older residents, but for residents of all ages.
  • The Council of the District of Columbia has also played a role in Age-Friendly DC. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson introduced "AARP Network Age-Friendly Cities and Communities Recognition Resolution of 2012" [PDF] in late 2012. Two important provisions of the resolution are "WHEREAS, because active aging is a life-long process, an age-friendly city is not just 'elder-friendly;' an age-friendly city is friendly for people of all ages and abilities, and promotes active aging by optimizing opportunities for health, participation, and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age;" and "WHEREAS, an 'age-friendly' community promotes anticipating and responding flexibly to the aging-related needs and preferences of its citizens."
  • In late 2012, the DC Council also passed "Sense of the Council that the District of Columbia should participate in the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities Program Resolution of 2012" [PDF].

Related reports and plans by the DC government