Calling all concerned communities
Did you know that only 12 percent of Arizonans believe people care about each other? Or that only 10 percent think their elected officials have their interests at heart? This is what the October 2009 Gallup Arizona Poll sadly uncovered. As a matter of fact, Arizona ranked low across the board, diagnosing the state with poor civic health all around. Borrowing a cup of sugar is not a regular occurrence in the Grand Canyon State, nor is following the news.
The Center for the Future of Arizona (CFA) commissioned the poll to identify certain areas of consensus and what Arizonans want for the state. Based on the Gallup research, CFA established The Arizona We Want citizens’ agenda made up of eight goals:
1. Create quality jobs
2. Educate citizens of all ages for the 21st century
3. Make Arizona “the place to be” for talented young people
4. Provide health insurance for all, with aid for those who need it
5. Protect Arizona’s natural environment, water supplies and open spaces
6. Build a modern transportation system and infrastructure
7. Empower citizens
8. Increase civic involvement
The natural, next step, according to CFA’s chairman and CEO Lattie Coor, is the Five Communities Project, which will provide assistance to communities that wish to improve their lot through greater civic involvement. “None of the eight goals can be achieved without greater citizen involvement and a much greater sense of connection to one another,” says Coor, former Arizona State University president. CFA is a Phoenix-based nonprofit organization – an independent “do tank” rather than a think tank – that combines public-policy research with initiatives and collaborative partnerships to create opportunities and quality of life for all Arizonans.
Communities eligible to apply for the Five Communities Project include those with clear geographic boundaries: municipalities, school districts, tribal communities, economic development regions, religious communities and large neighborhood organizations.
The first step is to submit a letter of intent by May 16, 2011, so if you have a germ of an idea, now is the time to suss it out. The center is most interested in communities that offer the most cost-effective financial strategies possible, given the potential impact and feasibility of the ideas submitted. All proposed projects must address the eight goals that reflect the Gallup poll findings.
CFA hopes to receive ideas that will reconnect citizens and their leaders and citizens with each other, and to take civic involvement beyond voting and volunteering. Coor says, “The Center for the Future of Arizona believes strongly in the strength of local communities, the talent available and the advantage of coming together with a unified vision for the state.”
The selection committee will choose 20 community projects for the next assessment. From there, 10 finalists will be selected to develop a final proposal. They’ll each receive a $5,000 development grant to help cover costs. They will also be honored guests at the 66th Annual National Conference on Citizenship, September 22-23, 2011, to be held on ASU’s campuses in Phoenix and Tempe – and outside of Washington, D.C., for the very first time.
Detailed guidelines and more information are available at thearizonawewant.org.