Civic Saturday Fellowship
Learn how to convene purposeful gatherings that rebuild faith in one another and our democracy.
The Civic Saturday Fellowship prepares motivated Americans to inspire a renewed sense of shared civic purpose and moral courage in their community.
Intense polarization. A sense of disconnection from the place we call home. Feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness. Across all pockets of the country, many of us are experiencing these same heartaches and challenges.
But we are not stuck. Civic Saturdays gatherings are designed to be an antidote to this feeling of apathy and despair — and our Civic Saturday Fellowship trains people to host them in communities around the nation.
We are excited to be opening applications in Spring 2024 to host a handful of cohorts in Fall 2024. To be the first to know when applications open, sign up for our newsletter →
What are Civic Saturday gatherings?
We think of Civic Saturday as a civic analogue to a faith gathering, because they are a place for rebuilding faith in one another and strengthening the threads of our social fabric. A time to come together to reflect on our role as citizens — and what that role asks of us. A community gathering to speak openly about the challenges pulling us apart and to spark a commitment to healing, repair, and responsibility. Simply put, Civic Saturdays are a place to reflect on what it means to “live like a citizen” and commit to doing so. Whether through solemn truth-telling or spirited celebration, Civic Saturdays are strengthening communities around the nation.
What is the Civic Saturday Fellowship?
The Civic Saturday Fellowship is a six-month program that equips engaged and inspiring Americans to create these purposeful rituals and root them in community-centered ways. Through the Fellowship, you’ll learn, practice, and host a series of Civic Saturday gatherings in your community. From Philadelphia to Little Rock to Lincoln to San Francisco, Fellows are building communal gatherings that bring people together to rededicate themselves to the practice of powerful, responsible citizenship.
Can I host Civic Saturdays?
Yes! In fall 2023, we will welcome over 30 new Fellows into the fold, joining a growing movement of people convening powerful gatherings to deepen civic faith. If your community needs a new kind of civic invitation, a place to build trust and commitment, we're ready for you! The application window to join a 2023 fall cohort is closed. Subscribe to our newsletter to learn when we open applications to join a spring 2024 Civic Saturday Fellowship cohort.
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 learning experience in Seattle, Fellows begin to articulate what their communities need, learn the Civic Saturday model, and begin to build deep, supportive bonds that nourish them as they begin to host gatherings in their hometowns over the next six months, and beyond.
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. You can adapt Civic Saturday to meet the need and match the spirit of your community.
Start with Civic Seminary.
Your Fellowship begins with our immersive four-day training called Civic Seminary. From reflecting on the state of democracy today, to discerning the unique challenges and opportunities alive in your own community, to learning how to deliver a civic sermon, you’ll gain everything you need to know to design your own Civic Saturday gatherings.
Join a Cohort of Collaborators.
After Civic Seminary, you’ll engage in a series of virtual calls with the cohort, and CU staff. These connection points over the course of six months — geared towards additional training, problem solving and cheerleading — will strengthen and sustain you in hosting at least two Civic Saturdays. All of this is meant to help you build Civic Saturdays as an ongoing community practice.
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.
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.
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 your peers reflecting on the specific texture and challenges of your community — and how you can adapt the Civic Saturday model to meet those needs.
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.
Gathering across geography
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 200 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.
Carmina Taylor chose to host a gathering in the heart of Philadelphia for a reason. It evoked a meaningful connection with the legacy of our democracy and the ongoing struggle to make the promise of this “more perfect union” a reality. Her Civic Saturday gatherings invite the community to look at our responsibility as citizens head-on. They revive feelings of commitment and a sense of possibility in achieving liberty and justice for all.
A flock of Fellows? A contingent of catalysts? Erika Olson’s gatherings aren’t just for forging new connections but for strengthening existing ones. Her approach to Civic Saturdays is to collaborate with other Fellows in the Seattle area, each bringing in their own energy, perspectives, and dedication to rebuilding civic faith together. She and long-time Fellow Caroline Sayer have made a habit of hosting gatherings at libraries and bookstores, extending a warm invitation to build a community of citizenship 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 is adapting the Civic Saturday model and weaving it into a month-long campaign on “Civic Love.” She and her team made a series of events and activities to inspire neighbors to reconnect with each other, remind themselves what they love about Eureka Springs, and recommit to shaping and sustaining their town.