Community Engagement

Civic and community engagement includes strategies to organize individuals for collective action, as well as strategies to make sure that all voices in a community are heard as part of inclusive decision-making. These strategies can help build various kinds of social capital. That is, they can increase the extent to which residents in a given place can turn to each other and to community institutions for support, and the extent to which they are able to influence or control decisions that affect their lives. People often use civic or community engagement strategies to work towards racial equity goals. When using them, it is helpful to spend time thinking upfront about how much work will be done within existing systems, vs. trying to transform or interrupt those systems. It is also useful to consider the extent to which the work is based on the expressed wishes of the people whose lives are most likely to be affected positively and negatively by the work. Another [...]


Accelerating Public Engagement: A Roadmap for Local Government
Eric Gordon
City Accelerator, Living Cities
Centering Racial Justice and Grassroots Ownership in Collective Impact
K. Allen, R. Stoler, K. Jacobs, et al.
Stanford Social Innovation Review
Beyond Inclusion – Equity in Public Engagement: A Guide for Practitioners
Nicole Armos et al.
Simon Fraser University’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue
Engaging Stakeholders in Developing Strategies
Community Wealth Partners
A Guide on Community Engagement: Making Social Justice Work Inclusive
National Gender & Equity Campaign (NGEC) of Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP)
A Review of Public Participation and Consultation Methods
Vancouver, British Columbia Community Network
All the People, All the Places: A Landscape of Opportunity for Rural and Small-Town Civic Engagement
Ben Goldfarb
Wallace Global Fund
Building Power for Justice: Shining the Light on Grassroots Efforts in California
Aja Couchois Duncan, Natasha Winegar, Susan Misra
Change Elemental
Civic Engagement Narrative Change
Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society; MOSES; Praxia Partners
Community Engagement Guide
King County, Washington
Community Engagement Planning Guide
Lidiya Girma
Neighborhood Relations Specialist
Growing Together for a Sustainable Future: Strategies and Best Practices for Engaging with Disadvantaged Communities on Issues of Sustainable Development and Regional Planning
Jason Reece
Kirwan Institute
King County Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan Community Engagement Report
King County Equity and Social Justice
Nonprofits Integrating Community Engagement (NICE) Guide
Judi Sherman, Ofronama Biu, et al.
Building Movement Project; Alliance for Nonprofit Management
Racial Equity in Service to Collective Impact and Movement Building: The Blueprint North Carolina Story
Judia Holton, E. Cowans-Taylor, E. Byrd, R. Richir, and I. Gonzalez
Blueprint NC; Othering & Belonging Institute
The Community Engagement Guide for Sustainable Communities
Danielle Bergstrom, Kalima Rose, Jillian Olinger, Kip Holley
PolicyLink; Kirwan Institute
The Spectrum of Community Engagement to Ownership
Rosa González
Movement Strategy Center (MSC); Building Healthy Communities East Salinas
Vote, Organize, Transform, Engage: New Frontiers in Integrated Voter Engagement


The Spectrum of Community Engagement to Ownership
Rosa Gonzalez & Facilitating Power
Movement Strategy Center (MSC)
Building Civic Bridges through a Lens of Racial Justice
Martha McCoy
Everyday Democracy
Resource Guide on Public Engagement
National Coalition on Dialogue and Deliberation
The Community Engagement Continuum: Outreach, Mobilization, Organizing and Accountability to Address Violence against Women in Asian and Pacific Islander Communities
Mimi Kim
Asian & Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence; Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum
The Principles for Equitable and Inclusive Civic Engagement: A Guide to Transformative Change
Kip Holley
Kirwan Institute
Community Engagement
Dr. john a. powell
Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland; Kirwan Institute
Community Engagement & Racial Equity Toolkit Progress Report
Patricial Lally, LaMont Green, Evan Smith
City of Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative
Community Engagement Process for Brooklyn Park 2040 Comprehensive Plan
Robin Brooksbank, Kevin Karner, Eric King, Alex Kleppin, and Shengnan Lou
Resilient Communities Project (RCP), University of Minnesota
Creating Spaces for Change: Working Toward a “Story of Now” in Civic Engagement
W.K. Kellogg Foundation; Deliberative Democracy Consortium
Evidence of Change: Exploring Civic Engagement Evaluation
Building Movement Project et al.
Journey to Engagement: A First-Person Reflection on How to Engage Residents
The Diarist Project; Reflections on Making Connections
Making Change Happen: Citizen Engagement and Global Economic Power
Just Associates
Realizing a More Inclusive Electorate: Identity, Knowledge, Mobilization
Joshua Clark
Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, Diversity & Democracy Research Cluster


Guide to Digital Participation Platforms: When to Use Them, How to Choose & Tips for Maximum Results
Matt Stempeck, et al.
People Powered: Global Hub for Participatory Democracy
Facilitation Guide for Community Engagement: How to Foster Effective Conversations about Our Work and Our Communities
National Gender & Equity Campaign (NGEC) in Minnesota, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP)
Tools to Engage: Resources for Nonprofits
Building Movement Project

“Dominator culture has tried to keep us all afraid, to make us choose safety instead of risk, sameness instead of diversity. Moving through that fear, finding out what connects us, reveling in our differences; this is the process that brings us closer, that gives us a world of shared values, of meaningful community.”

~ bell hooks, Writer, Feminist Theorist, and Artist


A Rose in L.A. – The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools

Also in this section:
  • Addressing Trauma and Healing

  • Caucus and Affinity Groups

  • Conflict Transformation and Restorative Justice

  • Leadership Development

  • Organizational Change Process

  • Training and Popular Education

  • Advocacy

  • Community Building

  • Dialogue and Deliberation

  • Multicultural Competency

  • Policy and Legislative Change

  • Youth Activism and Intergenerational Work

  • Arts and Culture

  • Community Organizing

  • Hate Crimes Prevention and Response

  • Narrative Change

  • Racial Reconciliation



An anti-racist is someone who is supporting an antiracist policy through their actions or expressing antiracist ideas. This includes the expression of ideas that racial groups are equals and do not need developing, and supporting policies that reduce racial inequity. 

SOURCE:  Ibram X. Kendi, How To Be An Antiracist, Random House, 2019.

Caucusing (Affinity Groups)

A caucus is an intentionally created space for those who share an identity to convene for learning, support, and connections. Caucuses based on racial identity are often comprised, respectively, of people of color, white people, people who hold multiracial identities, or people who share specific racial or ethnic identities.

To advance racial equity, there is work for white people and people of color to do separately and together. Caucuses provide spaces for people to work within their own racial/ethnic groups. For white people, a caucus provides time and space to work explicitly and intentionally on understanding white culture and white privilege and to increase one’s critical analysis around these concepts. A white caucus also puts the onus on white people to teach each other about these ideas, rather than placing a burden on people of color to teach them. For people of color, a caucus is a place to work with peers to address the impact of racism, to interrupt experiences of internalized racism, and to create a space for healing and working for individual and collective liberation. At times, people of color may also break into more specific race-based caucuses, sometimes based on experiences with a particular issue, for example police violence, immigration, or land rights. Groups that use caucuses in their organizational racial equity work, especially in workplaces and coalitions, generally meet separately and create a process to rejoin and work together collectively.

SOURCE: (ACT / Strategies / Caucus and Affinity Groups)

Related Resources:  Caucus and Affinity Groups

Location: ACT / Strategies

Implicit Bias

Also known as unconscious or hidden bias, implicit biases are negative associations that people unknowingly hold. They are expressed automatically, without conscious awareness. Many studies have indicated that implicit biases affect individuals’ attitudes and actions, thus creating real-world implications, even though individuals may not even be aware that those biases exist within themselves. Notably, implicit biases have been shown to trump individuals’ stated commitments to equality and fairness, thereby producing behavior that diverges from the explicit attitudes that many people profess. The Implicit Association Test (IAT) is often used to measure implicit biases with regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, and other topics.

SOURCE:  Cheryl Staats, State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review 2013, Kirwan Institute, The Ohio State University. 

Related Resources:  Implicit Bias

Location: ACT / Communicating


The everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.

SOURCE:  Derald Wing Sue, PhD, “Microaggressions: More than Just Race” (Psychology Today, 17 November 2010).

Related Resources:  Racism (scroll down alphabetically to the box for “Interpersonal Racism”)

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts

Multicultural Competency

A process of learning about and becoming allies with people from other cultures, thereby broadening our own understanding and ability to participate in a multicultural process. The key element to becoming more culturally competent is respect for the ways that others live in and organize the world and an openness to learn from them.

SOURCE:  Paul Kivel, “Multicultural Competence” (2007).

Related Resources:  Multicultural Competency

Location: ACT / Strategies


  1. Power is unequally distributed globally and in U.S. society; some individuals or groups wield greater power than others, thereby allowing them greater access and control over resources. Wealth, whiteness, citizenship, patriarchy, heterosexism, and education are a few key social mechanisms through which power operates. Although power is often conceptualized as power overother individuals or groups, other variations are power with (used in the context of building collective strength) and power within (which references an individual’s internal strength). Learning to “see” and understand relations of power is vital to organizing for progressive social change.

  2. Power may also be understood as the ability to influence others and impose one’s beliefs. All power is relational, and the different relationships either reinforce or disrupt one another. The importance of the concept of power to anti-racism is clear: racism cannot be understood without understanding that power is not only an individual relationship but a cultural one, and that power relationships are shifting constantly. Power can be used malignantly and intentionally, but need not be, and individuals within a culture may benefit from power of which they are unaware.

  3. (A) The ability to name or define. (B) The ability to decide. (C) The ability the set the rule, standard, or policy. (D) The ability to change the rule, standard, or policy to serve your needs, wants, or desires. (E) The ability to influence decision makers to make choices in favor of your cause, issue, or concern. Each of these definitions can manifest on personal, social, institutional, or structural levels:  

  • Personal Power - 1. Self-determination. 2. Power that an individual possesses or builds in their personal life and interpersonal relationships.  

  • Social Power - 1. Communal self-determination. 2. A grassroots collective organization of personal power. 3. Power that social groups possess or build among themselves to determine and shape their collective lives.  

  • Institutional Power - 1. Power to create and shape the rules, policies, and actions of an institution. 2. To have institutional power is to be a decision maker or to have great influence upon a decision maker of an institution.  

  • Structural Power - To have structural power is to create and shape the rules, policies, and actions that govern multiple and intersecting institutions or an industry.


  1. Intergroup Resources, “Power” (2012).

  2. Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre, “Racism and Power” (2018) / “CARED Glossary” (2020).

  3. Our Shared Language: Social Justice Glossary, YWCA (2016).

Racial Healing

To restore to health or soundness; to repair or set right; to restore to spiritual wholeness.

SOURCE:  Michael R. Wenger, Racial Equity Resource Guide (W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 2012).

Related Resources:  Addressing Trauma and Healing and Trauma, Violence, and Healing

Locations: ACT / Strategies and PLAN / Issues

Racial Reconciliation

Reconciliation involves three ideas. First, it recognizes that racism in America is both systemic and institutionalized, with far–reaching effects on both political engagement and economic opportunities for minorities. Second, reconciliation is engendered by empowering local communities through relationship-building and truth-telling. Lastly, justice is the essential component of the conciliatory process—justice that is best termed as restorative rather than retributive, while still maintaining its vital punitive character.

SOURCE:  The William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, Position Statement on Reconciliation (2014).

Related Resources:  Racial Reconciliation

Location: ACT / Strategies

Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice is a theory of justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by crime and conflict. It places decisions in the hands of those who have been most affected by a wrongdoing, and gives equal concern to the victim, the offender, and the surrounding community. Restorative responses are meant to repair harm, heal broken relationships, and address the underlying reasons for the offense. Restorative Justice emphasizes individual and collective accountability. Crime and conflict generate opportunities to build community and increase grassroots power when restorative practices are employed.

SOURCE:  The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), “Glossary.”

Related Resources:  Conflict Transformation and Restorative Justice

Location: ACT / Strategies

White Supremacy Culture

  1. White Supremacy Culture refers to the dominant, unquestioned standards of behavior and ways of functioning embodied by the vast majority of institutions in the United States. These standards may be seen as mainstream, dominant cultural practices; they have evolved from the United States’ history of white supremacy. Because it is so normalized it can be hard to see, which only adds to its powerful hold. In many ways, it is indistinguishable from what we might call U.S. culture or norms – a focus on individuals over groups, for example, or an emphasis on the written word as a form of professional communication. But it operates in even more subtle ways, by actually defining what “normal” is – and likewise, what “professional,” “effective,” or even “good” is. In turn, white culture also defines what is not good, “at risk,” or “unsustainable.” White culture values some ways of thinking, behaving, deciding, and knowing – ways that are more familiar and come more naturally to those from a white, western tradition – while devaluing or rendering invisible other ways. And it does this without ever having to explicitly say so...

  2. An artificial, historically constructed culture which expresses, justifies, and binds together the United States white supremacy system. It is the glue that binds together white-controlled institutions into systems and white-controlled systems into the global white supremacy system.


1. Gita Gulati-Partee and Maggie Potapchuk, “Paying Attention to White Culture and Privilege: A Missing Link to Advancing Racial Equity” (The Foundation Review vol. 6: issue 1, 2014).

2. Sharon Martinas and the Challenging White Supremacy Workshop, 4th revision (1995).

Related Resources:  Organizational Change Process (see the first section: “Addressing White Dominant Culture”)

Location: ACT / Strategies