February 2023 | Phoenix, AZ – Academy project leaders and program staff were in Phoenix, Arizona for discussions with local civic leaders as part of ongoing work to strengthen democracy in America by implementing recommendations in the Academy report, Our Common Purpose, issued by the bipartisan Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship.
Commission co-chairs Eric Liu and Stephen Heintz, Commission member Steven Olikara, and Academy staff were in Phoenix to meet with and hear from local funders of civic work at the Flinn Foundation and members of the Academy in the area. The full day of events, which included panel discussions and informal conversations about local initiatives to strengthen democracy, built on prior engagement in the Phoenix area. The Commission conducted five listening sessions in 2019 with civic leaders, young people, independent voters, and others. The feedback from those listening sessions and others like them around the country informed the recommendations in the Our Common Purpose report.
These recent events provided time for Commission Members to share updates on Our Common Purpose and for all in attendance to learn about organizations in Arizona doing important work to strengthen democracy as they advance recommendations in the report. They heard from the Arizona Civic Life Partnership, Instituto and the Arizona Civics Coalition:
- Arizona Civic Life Partnership: Convened by the Flinn Foundation and Center for the Future of Arizona, the partnership is working to generate greater dialogue about civic life in Arizona, use data to drive action that strengthens civic engagement, and become a hub for state and national partners to convene, collaborate, and multiply impact.
- Instituto works to increase civic participation and representation among low-income communities and communities of color in Arizona by training local leaders. As part of this work, they partner with 42 nonprofit and community organizations across the state. They shared research showing how Arizona’s status as a swing-state has resulted in a boom-and-bust cycle of funding tied to the election cycle, which makes it difficult for these organizations to survive and plan for the long run.
- The Arizona Civics Coalition, which is working to support strong civic ed in Arizona through research and advocacy, as well as professional development opportunities for educators, also shared an overview of their work in the state.
The Our Common Purpose Team was hosted in Phoenix by the Arizona Civic Life Partnership, and its members, the Center for the Future of Arizona, the Flinn Foundation, and the Vitalyst Health Foundation.