The challenges of national democratic engagement are deep and wide. It can be overwhelming to address the factors that influence both Americans’ participation and government systems for connecting with citizens at a large scale.

It’s often difficult to measure the impact of an individual’s actions in a sea of variables. As part of Healthier Democracies, we look at the distinct ways that local and regional governments can effectively pilot and grow engagement efforts. We believe that the keys to building democratic engagement on a national and international level may be found in these local and regional models.

Within each case study, you will find the icons corresponding to the relevant areas of exemplary modes of engagement as laid out in the Participatory Governance Index:

Structures Icon Green

Engagement structures: patterned or organized opportunities for engagement that support cross-sector and government-community collaborations.

Commitments Icon Teal

Commitment to engagement: investment in engagement as a core value that guides efforts to promote participation.

Opportunities Icon Purple

Opportunities for engagement: participation that is normalized and embedded into decision-making and that guides citizen-centered governance strategies.

Community building: engagement processes that foster meaningful connections between and within communities.

Local Case Studies

The array of local cases in this project spans a wide range of cultural and geographical contexts. Each case study arose from specific immediate issues and grew out of previous efforts—both successful and unsuccessful—to build engagement. Click the links below to read each case study.

Regional Case Studies

Regional efforts to grow participatory engagement are far more rare and arduous. Each of the case studies below were built on successful local or national initiatives and created opportunities for connected systems of government and civil society. Click the links below to read each case study.