Our communities are facing extraordinary challenges, made more intense by disconnection and polarization, resource scarcity, competition, and silos that keep us from working together. We need new models to tackle these current patterns and build collective power.

We believe that local ecosystems of mutuality, collaboration, and circulation of resources are necessary — and possible.

That’s why we’ve developed the Civic Collaboratory model: to cultivate bonds of trust and affection and to develop the practice of circulating mutual aid. Organizations around the nation are convening Local Civic Collaboratories to overcome disconnection, strengthen the fabric of local partnerships, and respond to community needs with spirit and creativity.

About the Civic Collaboratory Model

Civic Collaboratories convene people across sectors and experiences to build relationships and build power together. We think of the Collaboratory model as a mutual aid society and a project incubator for civic innovators. At each gathering, several members of the network share projects or initiatives and the rest of the group offers not workshopping or critique but hard commitments of help and support.

Organizations across the country are using this adaptable social technology to establish a practice of mutual aid in their communities. Through repeated gatherings, acts of mutuality and reciprocity create a compounding effect of trust and collaboration. Participants find new collaborators, expand existing projects, and circulate resources to accelerate their neighbor’s efforts. From cross-partisan initiatives to civic education efforts to artistic endeavors, Local Civic Collaboratories are activating what’s possible when we work together.

Learn more about the Civic Collaboratory model and philosophy →

Convene a Local Civic Collaboratory

Imagine what it might be like if organizations and civic innovators in your community worked together in a deeply collaborative way. What might be possible if a spirit of mutuality replaced feelings of competition? If we built our relationships on bonds of trust and affection? Your organization might just be perfectly positioned to catalyze this civic infrastructure to make this a reality.

Citizen University provides an immersive, highly supportive training for organizations around the country to gain the skills, practice, confidence, and network of support to bring a Civic Collaboratory to life.

About the Training Program

Your team will take part in a structured arc of learning, joining a cohort of representatives from organizations around the nation who are also eager to make use of the Local Civic Collaboratory model. You’ll come out of the training program energized and equipped to inspire an atmosphere of investment, reciprocity, and cross-silo commitment-making and action-taking. You’ll have the knowledge and skills to tailor the model to serve your particular community ecosystem — and practice having done so!

Convening organizations bring an eagerness, drive, and whole-hearted commitment to weaving a stronger community fabric. Each organization in your cohort will be in tune with the dynamics of their local landscapes and see untapped potential for working together — joys, challenges, and all.

The Civic Collaboratory is the most important personal and professional network I’m part of. The people I met in the first 24 hours changed the trajectory of my thinking and my work.

Lisa Kay Solomon Stanford University's Institute for Design

Participating in a Cohort

Catalyzing a Civic Collaboratory can take many forms. Undoubtedly, it’s a group effort; even a small core team can make the magic happen! Two staff members should plan to actively participate in all aspects of the training program and will translate that experience into building and convening your Civic Collaboratory.

You’ll take part in a series of in-person and virtual learning experiences to:

  • Build familiarity with the Civic Collaboratory model
  • Develop the skills and knowledge to design a Collaboratory experience for your community
  • Explore how to nurture and sustain a diverse participant network


Join an opening experience with your cohort to explore what it means to practice and catalyze “powerful, responsible citizenship” — and to help transform the culture of civic life in your community.

National Civic Collaboratory

Immerse yourself in Citizen University’s own National Civic Collaboratory gathering, experiencing the magic of the model directly.

Immersive Training

Dive into the who, what, where, when, why, and how of organizing a Civic Collaboratory. Dig into the principles and practices — such as building trust and circulating mutual aid — that are the foundation of the network.

Ongoing Support & Virtual Trainings

Begin designing Collaboratory experiences for your own community, activated and guided by a series of trainings, planning assignments, and both cohort-wide and one-on-one support calls.

If you are interested in convening your own Collaboratory, please check back for future opportunities.