Grant Opportunity: Civic Hub

Civic Hub: Extending Conversations on Civic Engagement

Promote civic literacy.

A group of people are gathered for a discussion.Grant Amount:

$10,000 - 15,000

Time Range:

1 year



Staff Contact:

Lyndsay Forbes

Program Description

Libraries can strengthen their role as a source for dependable print and media resources while serving as trusted spaces to start and continue community conversations. They can support informed, issue-oriented public programs and structured opportunities for discussion by serving as public forum and civic engagement ‘incubators’.

Promoting civic literacy requires active engagement around issues specific to each community. For example, concerns about the exploding opioid crisis or local conflicts about land conservation might serve as a touchstone for organized dialogue. Paramount to the vision of an informed community is the democratic value of openness, inclusion, participation, empowerment, and the common pursuit of truth and the public interest. Libraries should demonstrate partnership with local municipal and state organizations, institutions of higher education, and interested civic organizations, such as The League of Women Voters.

Successful projects might include but are not limited to a range of activities. For example, the Reading (MA) public library’s Reclaiming Your Story provided the opportunity to deepen support of socially equitable and civic-minded programming through the art of storytelling, and sharing of lived experiences.

The Whittemore Library at Framingham State University partnered with several campus and local organizations to create a virtual and an on- campus civic engagement hub.  They engaged students and the surrounding community with impactful speakers, creative art installations, and small group discussions and training.

The R.E.A.C.T: Read, Engage and Come Together project at the Chelmsford Library identified a local need for discussion space for civic issues and more sources of trusted information. The library successfully engaged community members in face-to-face discussion around six critical civic issues.

A number of libraries across the country serve as partners with municipal government to offer Citizen Academies that educate citizens through interactive sessions, optional tours of facilities, and present a comprehensive look at how and why government and local programs and services are provided. Finally, for a number of years, libraries have offered sessions using material from the National Issues Forum (NIF), a nonpartisan program of public-issue discussions designed to enable citizens to have a more effective voice in American politics.

A significant program component is required for this project but may also include requests for materials and equipment to carry out project objectives. Limited funds may be used for staff as needed and some funding may be used to train staff in facilitation techniques.*


A recent report of The Knight Commission, Informing communities: sustaining democracy in the digital age, proposed new thinking and aggressive action to improve the vitality of our democracy. By making information opportunities available to all, it observes that libraries have a key role in supporting “informed communities” that meet people’s personal and civic information needs. Promoting healthy civic communities begins by ensuring access for all, along with education and training, public engagement, and government transparency. The report of the Commission further states, “Information is as vital to the healthy functioning of communities as clean air, safe streets, good schools and public health.” The fundamental objectives of this vision suggest:

  • Maximizing the availability of relevant and credible information in communities
  • Strengthening the capacity of individuals to engage with information
  • Promoting individual engagement with the information and the life of the community

The need to impart skills to participate in a strong democracy provides an ideal opportunity for libraries in academic, school, and public settings, not only to inform but to engage and educate community members in a safe and neutral environment.

*Develop content that reflects thought-provoking activities to support dialogue and engagement on issues affecting your community.

Create series on current topics on both national and local interest e.g. Coronavirus: Distinguishing Fact from Fear; Exploring Climate Resilience; Examining Race, Inequality, and Social Justice (online event).

Utilize documentary film content delivered online and coordinate post discussion as a springboard for lessons, analysis, and dialogue on civic topics.

Feature weblinks to national news sources e.g. Associated Press, National Public Radio, and ProPublica, and develop curated LibGuides on selected topics.

For More Information

Robert Favini, Head of Library Advisory and Development
617-725-1860 x237
857-488-6590 (Mobile)

Amy Clayton, Administrative Coordinator
617-725-1860 x228
857-488-6408 (Mobile)