The Civic Saturday Fellowship trains civic movers and shakers to organize and host ritualized gatherings that deepen connections among community members.

These gatherings activate moral reflection and inspire people to “live like citizens.” They strengthen the fabric of local communities with a new — or renewed — sense of spirit, possibility, and shared commitment to the common good.

Why do our communities need to gather? A sense of disconnection from the place we call home, or the people within it. Intense polarization. Feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness. Or simply longing for more joy and connection with others in public. Across all pockets of the country, many of us are experiencing these same heartaches, challenges, and yearnings.

But we are not stuck. Civic Saturday gatherings are designed to be an antidote to feelings of apathy, despair, or disconnection — and this Civic Saturday Fellowship trains organizations and small groups of civic catalysts to host them in communities around the nation.

The application window to join a Fall 2024 cohort has closed. Our team will announce the selected cohort members this summer. Stay tuned!

What are Civic Saturday gatherings?

We think of Civic Saturday as a civic analogue to a faith gathering. These are ritualized ways to nurture connection and spark inspiration by reflecting on the values, practices, challenges, and benefits of being a contributing member of your community. Ultimately, they help us all deepen a shared sense of civic purpose, commitment, and action. Gatherings can take many forms: a structured time to joyfully connect with friends, neighbors, and strangers. A time to speak openly about the challenges pulling our communities apart — and the opportunities motivating us to lean in. A space to reflect on our role as citizens and what this role asks of us. But no matter the angle, Civic Saturdays are a place to consider what it means to “live like a citizen” and commit to doing so.

What is the Civic Saturday Fellowship?

The Fellowship equips small groups to embed these gatherings in the fabric of your community. The Fellows are civically engaged professionals, community leaders, organizers, or dynamic go-getters. They bring passionate dedication, existing networks, and shared capacity to build Civic Saturday-inspired experiences into the life of their communities over time. The six-month program trains and supports these teams as they learn about, tailor, and begin to host these kinds of civic ritual gatherings at home. From Philadelphia to Little Rock to Lincoln to San Francisco, Fellows are building communal gatherings that bring people together to strengthen connections, practice moral reflection, and rededicate themselves to the practice of powerful, responsible citizenship.

Can I host Civic Saturdays?

This fall, we'll welcome over 30 new Fellows into the fold, joining a growing movement of people convening powerful gatherings to deepen civic faith. The application window to join a Fall 2024 cohort has closed. Our team will announce the selected cohort members this summer. Stay tuned!

Convening Civic Saturdays gave me tremendous hope for my community… an intentional gathering to hold the space for reflection, storytelling, inspiration that can rejuvenate and challenge the ways we have been doing civic engagement.

Samuel T. Civic Saturday Fellow

About the Fellowship experience

Each spring and fall, Citizen University convenes a few cohorts of dedicated Americans to explore, get energized, and activate one another to weave Civic Saturdays into their community. Starting with a transformative group training in Seattle, you begin to articulate what your community needs, learn the Civic Saturday model, and start to build deep, supportive bonds. These peer relationships will sustain you as you adopt or adapt this practice and begin to host gatherings over the next six months and beyond.

Start with Civic Seminary.

The Fellowship begins with our immersive three-and-a-half day training called Civic Seminary. You’ll cover a lot; from reflecting on the state of democracy today, to discerning the unique challenges and opportunities alive in your own community. You'll experience and deconstruct the Civic Saturday model to understand its parts and purposes, and map out an action plan for initiating this kind of experience at home. Your team will gain everything needed to design, launch and sustain the kind of civic ritual gatherings your community is hungry for.

I will continue to hold and share the teachings of Civic Seminary throughout my professional and personal life. I am truly better off because of what I learned throughout the last nine months.

Martha F. Civic Saturday Fellow

Host Your Own Gatherings.

The heart of the Fellowship is hosting Civic Saturday gatherings for your community — however you create them. Each Fellow's gatherings look a little different: from picnics in the park to Zoom calls to musical or conversational library programs. Your team can adapt Civic Saturday to meet the needs and match the spirit of your community.

What kinds of gatherings are Fellows hosting?

The beauty of Civic Saturday gatherings is that they are meant to be adapted and shaped to fit the needs of your community. And with over 250 Fellows in 34 states and the District of Columbia, there is a lot of creativity flowing! Here are a few ways that Fellows are bringing this social technology to life.

A group of people inside a library, playing drums and singing.

Whether serving as the manager of the historic Cossitt Library, coordinating widespread civic engagement or volunteer opportunities, or serving on multiple boards himself, Shamichael Hallman is no stranger to organizing imaginative, catalytic experiences with and for others across Memphis, Tennessee. He established a Civic Saturday practice at the heart of the Cossitt Library – during open hours, no less – to make the gatherings accessible, familiar, and energizing to those coming on purpose… and those absorbing the sounds and spirit by coincidence. 

A multigenerational group, together at a backyard gathering.

With a background in communications and public health, and a commitment to bridging generational divides, Aanchal Dhar left Civic Seminary determined to organize Civic Saturdays with a multigenerational planning committee and in partnership with local organizations – to make the gatherings more vibrant, and the planning work more feasible. Aanchal and another fellow, Brittany Bare, experimented with a few virtual Civic Saturdays, bringing together friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, and people from around the country, then shifted to a backyard gatherings in San Francisco, California, where each committee member brought 1-2 newcomers, and actively led some part of the experience; a true act of civic co-creation!

A small group chatting together.

Jackie Wolven thought she’d only be a visitor to Eureka Springs, Arkansas but ended up doing just the opposite. Now as the Director of their Main Street Alliance, Jackie has adapted the Civic Saturday model and woven it into four annual Civic Sessions; seasonal month-long civic ritual campaigns, rooted in different themes, like Civic Love, Civic Kindness, Civic Joy, and Civic Thanks. She and her team organize a series of events and activities sprinkled across a few weeks, that inspire neighbors to reconnect with each other, remind themselves what they love about Eureka Springs, and recommit to shaping and sustaining their town.

Join a Community of Collaborators.

After Civic Seminary, you’ll be supported by a series of virtual calls with your cohort and CU staff. These connection points over the course of six months — geared towards additional training, problem solving, and cheerleading — will strengthen you in hosting at least two Civic Saturdays. After that, your network of support will grow as you stay part of the CU Community: a vibrant ecosystem of dedicated Americans who are strengthening civic culture in the places they call home. Being part of this ongoing Community will help you find collaborators, circulate wisdom and resources, and feel part of a nationwide movement of civic activity.

What you’ll find as a Fellow

“How do I get people around me to care?” “How can I create a space in my community for healing from trauma that’s happened, or from toxicity and tribalism?” “What if I’m losing faith in the democratic process myself?”

If you find yourself asking questions like these — and you want to help change the civic culture surrounding you and your neighbors — we welcome you with open arms. In the Fellowship, you’ll reflect on the hopes and fears that are undercurrents in your community, which starts with exploring your worries, your vision, your joy. You’ll spend time with peers reflecting on the specific texture and challenges of your community — and how you can adapt the Civic Saturday model to meet those needs.

Each Fellow that comes through our doors brings with them a deep sense of care for the place they call home. They’re motivated to build new kinds of civic infrastructure to bring people together.

We invite you to find your place in this wide, diverse network of Fellows ready to inspire and sharpen one another, recharge together, and spark a sense of imagination for what’s possible.