The Civic Health of Wisconsin initiative is dedicated to strengthening current civic health efforts around Wisconsin, to spur innovation and foster more connected and engaged communities. The initiative includes a steering committee and broader network of nonpartisan organizations involved in civic health efforts spanning democratic participation, volunteerism, and community connection, among other issues. For timely updates and information about Civic Health of Wisconsin events, share your contact information and join our Civic Health of Wisconsin Facebook page.
About the initiative
The Civic Health of Wisconsin initiative connects efforts across Wisconsin that are building strong, engaged communities. If you are part of an organization or informal group doing nonpartisan civic health work in any capacity, we hope you’ll join the conversation.
Many Civic Health of Wisconsin network members have committed to work toward specific organizational goals related to civic participation, community engagement, and connectedness. These commitments are updated regularly and available to view at the link below.
The Civic Health of Wisconsin steering committee members sustain the initiative and shape network outreach, strategic goals, and collaborative efforts related to civic health.
Civic Health Network
The Civic Health Network includes both Steering Committee members and a wider group of organizations affiliated with the initiative, from across Wisconsin.
A Snapshot of Wisconsin’s Civic Health
The Civic Health of Wisconsin initiative partnered with the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) and a coalition of nonpartisan organizations to publish the first report on civic health across Wisconsin. The report summarizes data from the 2019 Civic Health Index™ on Wisconsin residents’ civic engagement and community connectedness. These data are presented alongside Wisconsin demographic information, civics education standards, trends in local politics and news, and current civic health efforts.
Civic Engagement with Foreign-Born Wisconsinites
Foreign-born residents form a valued part of communities around Wisconsin. However, like immigrant communities across the United States, they also face barriers to participating in civic activities. To learn more about this community and their civic health, Hannah LeDuc of the CommNS brought together organizations working with foreign-born Wisconsinites for a Town Hall.
Download the brief below to read more about what we learned.
Civic health efforts across Wisconsin
The inventory below is a growing list of civic health efforts in progress throughout Wisconsin. Some, but not all of these projects are run by organizations in the Civic Health of Wisconsin network. If you are involved in a nonpartisan civic health effort in Wisconsin that is not represented here, we welcome submissions to be added to the list.
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Arts and culture
|Arts Wisconsin||Arts Wisconsin is Wisconsin’s community cultural development organization, activating a vibrant creative economy and access to creative opportunities statewide.|
|Purple River Project||Purple River Project is a year-long look into the culture and changing political landscape of Wisconsin’s Mississippi River valley counties.|
Civic health in rural and small town Wisconsin
|Center for the Small City||The Center for the Small City, housed in the College of Letters and Science of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, sponsors the biennial National Conference that brings academics, small city elected officials and staff together to discuss the development, needs, and problems affecting small cities.|
|Wisconsin Rural Partners||Wisconsin Rural Partners Inc. is a neutral, nonprofit organization that brings together a cross section of residents, organizations & leaders that cross political affiliations & organizational boundaries to advance initiatives important to rural communities throughout the state.|
|Campus Compact for Wisconsin Campus Liaisons||Campus Compact advances the public purpose of colleges and universities by deepening their ability to improve community life and to educate students for civic and social responsibility.|
|Wisconsin Partners||Wisconsin Partners is a coalition of statewide associations and civic-led community groups committed to deep collaboration. Our goal is to be an effective community-building network that brings about positive change through the building of the enduring broad-based relationships that make bold action possible.|
|Wisconsin Public Health Association||WPHA is the largest and most recognized membership association for public health professionals in Wisconsin. WPHA’s mission is building a healthier, safer Wisconsin through policy and partnership.|
Data and technical assistance
|WiCC IMPACT Project||The WiCC IMPACT project attempts to catalogue all partnerships in the state between WiCC campuses and their communities of interest.|
|Forward Labs||Forward Labs works with community-based organizations and cities throughout the state of Wisconsin (and beyond) to design tools, games, and experiences that bolster participation in local democracy.|
|League of Wisconsin Municipalities||The League of Wisconsin Municipalities was created to help Wisconsin cities and villages share ideas and learn from one another, to train and provide information to the people elected and appointed to govern those cities and villages, and to advocate on their behalf with the Wisconsin Legislature, Governor and state agencies.|
|Local Government Center||We teach, learn, lead and serve, connecting people with the University of Wisconsin, and engaging with them in transforming lives and communities.|
|Polco||Polco’s civic engagement platform makes meaningful communication between community leaders and the people they serve not only possible, but enjoyable.|
|WI Institute for Public Policy and Service||The mission of Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service is to address local, state and national issues by linking public scholarship, civic outreach and student service to enhance community life throughout Wisconsin.|
|Madison area coalition for voters of Color||Madison area churches, nonprofits, college students and others are joining forces to make sure that voters of color can get to the polls armed with the documents they need to vote.|
|ACLU Get out the Vote||The ACLU of Wisconsin is the state affiliate of the national ACLU and is a non-profit, non-partisan, private organization. The ACLU of Wisconsin has 13,000 members and is dedicated to defending the civil liberties and civil rights of all Wisconsin residents.|
|Badgers Vote Coalition||Vote Everywhere is a national, non-partisan, initiative to register, educate, and empower young voters through civic engagement and voter information. This branch of the organization works with University of Wisconsin students and alumni.|
|Wisconsin League of Women Voters||The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan, grassroots, political organization that advocates for informed and active participation in government. Our members are women and men who work to improve our systems of government and impact public policies through education and advocacy.|
|Building Unity Bus Tour||The Building Unity Tour is about making connections, raising awareness, and taking action for change. By listening, informing, finding common ground, and seeking solutions, together we can help each other build the unity we need to realize the world we all dream of.|
|Voces de la Frontera||Voces de la Frontera is a membership-based community organization led by low-wage workers, immigrants and youth whose mission is to protect and expand civil rights and workers’ rights through leadership development, community organizing and empowerment.|
|Wisconsin Council of Churches||The Wisconsin Council of Churches offers resources to assist you and other members of your congregation in exercising your rights and responsibilities as voters.|
|Wisconsin Farmers Union||The Wisconsin Farmers Union membership is made up of people from all walks of agriculture and life. From conventional to organic, rural to urban, our members find community in an organization that empowers them to have a voice in the issues that affect them.|
|Wisconsin Philanthropy Network||The Joyce Foundation has provided funding for a two-year project to engage regional funders in ensuring a more thorough and accurate census count in 2020. The Forum will focus on providing tools, information and other resources on this site that will enable regional funders to advocate with local and state governments to provide adequate funding for census outreach and education.|
|Wisconsin Voices||Wisconsin Voices envisions a Wisconsin where every person has the means, motivation, and freedom to fully participate in a just democracy that provides opportunities for all people to thrive.|
Dialogue and facilitation
|Beyond the Headlines Wisconsin||Beyond the Headlines is a program of the Wisconsin Humanities Council that brings members of the Wisconsin media and the public together to examine how we can obtain information that we need and trust in order to meet our communities’ challenges.|
|Center for Community Stewardship||The Center for Community Stewardship builds the capacity of people working to make our community better through facilitating community conversations and offering fiscal sponsorship.|
|Interactivity Foundation||The Interactivity Foundation’s mission is to strengthen our democracy through the use of a small-group discussion process to explore diverse perspectives and generate an expanding set of divergent possibilities.|
|Local Voices Network||Local Voices Network aims to surface the perspectives and concerns of residents through facilitated community conversations in person or online that invite anyone and everyone to the table to speak and be heard.|
|Millennial Action Project||Millenial Action Project UW is a student organization focused on creating an environment where students of all political parties can collaborate and discuss solutions to issues that affect our generation.|
|Reach Out Wisconsin||Reach out Wisconsin is a nonpartisan group dedicated to fostering respect and understanding in Wisconsin politics. In an era when the left and the right seem so divided, we want to reach out to each other.|
|Women’s Fund of Milwaukee||The Women’s Fund of Milwaukee hosts Community Talk Backs assembling diverse groups of people and facilitating inter-generational conversation about relevant topics to advancing equity for women.|
|Zeidler Center||The Zeidler Group is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people have difficult conversations. We offer professional facilitation, team building, strategic planning and community engagement services, working with organizations, neighborhoods, businesses and faith communities across a range of issues.|
|Leadership Wisconsin Program||The Leadership Wisconsin Program is a partnership of University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Division of Extension and Leadership Wisconsin, Inc, to connect and cultivate leaders, and to amplify their effectiveness.|
|Local Government Institute||The Local Government Institute of Wisconsin, Inc. is a not-for-profit, non-partisan corporation representing all citizens of Wisconsin at the local level and created to conduct research, enhance collaboration, and educate the public and policymakers on ways to improve local government’s ability to serve the people.|
|Running for Elected Office||This set of materials – developed by UW-Extension, the Local Government Center, and the League of Women Voters, with contributions from the Wisconsin Elections Commission and Manitowoc County – will help you decide whether you should run, how to run, and how to present the topic to others.|
|Thompson Center on Public Leadership||The Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership provides a multi-disciplinary, non-partisan environment to study, discuss, and improve leadership.|
|Wisconsin Lake Leaders Institute||Wisconsin Lake Leaders Institute enhances Wisconsin’s lake resources through leadership, training, and civic engagement.|
Volunteering and civil society
|Medical College of Wisconsin Regional Community Engagement Network||An informal group focused on community engagement, organized through the Medical College of Wisconsin Office of Community Engagement.|
|Feeding Wisconsin||Feeding Wisconsin is the statewide association of the Feeding America food banks that sources, warehouses, and provides food to over 750 affiliated agencies and 1,000 local food programs throughout the state.|
|Volunteer Wisconsin||Volunteer Wisconsin, led by United Way of Wisconsin, connects community members interested in volunteering with organizations in need of volunteers. Volunteer Wisconsin works to promote, support, and increase effective volunteerism for positive community impact.|
|Water Action Volunteers||Water Action Volunteers is a statewide program for Wisconsin citizens who want to learn about and improve the quality of Wisconsin’s streams and rivers.|
|Wisconsin Master Gardeners||The Extension Master Gardener Program educates, empowers, and supports volunteers to use university research-based information to extend the Wisconsin Idea, making a positive difference in lives and communities.|
|Wisconsin Master Naturalist Program||The Wisconsin Master Naturalist Program develops a corps of well-informed citizens dedicated to conservation education and service within their communities.|
Youth civic enagement
|Civics Games||Through the Wisconsin Civics Games and coverage of civic affairs, Wisconsin newspapers aim to help cultivate an understanding among future generations of their role in our democracy.|
|Dane County Youth Governance Program||The Dane County Youth Governance Program offers greater opportunities for youth leadership development and youth empowerment in Dane County through direct participation in county government decision-making.|
|Future Leaders Active in Government||Through FLAG, high school students explore the role of local government and decision-making processes at the county level. Students acquire valuable leadership skills and connections, learn to voice their opinions, and understand they have the ability to identify important issues and work within government and systems to address those issues and concerns.|
|Kenosha County Youth as Resources||Kenosha County Youth As Resources (YAR) is a grant-giving program which funds youth-designed, youth-led community service projects in Kenosha County. Youth, with guidance from adults, determine the project they believe will address a need in their community.|
|Kids Voting USA-Wisconsin/Marathon County||Kids Voting Wisconsin is part of a national network of nonpartisan, not-for-profit organizations that collaborate with schools and election officials to promote civic education and citizenship among K-12 students.|
|DC Trips – The Kohl Foundation and Boys and Girls Club Jainsville||Scholarships made possible by a grant from the Herbert H. Kohl Charities Foundation allow 40 Janesville middle school (6th-8th grade) students to take an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington DC with Boys & Girls Club of Janesville during the summer.|
|Leaders Igniting Transformation||Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT) is a Black and Brown-led independent nonprofit. Founded in 2017, LIT organizes young people to build independent political power for social, racial, and economic justice. LIT engages in values-based issues and electoral organizing, direct action, public policy advocacy, and leadership development.|
|Teen Court||Teen Court offers eligible youth an opportunity to receive a meaningful sanction from a jury of their peers. This experience provides youth an alternative to appearing in juvenile court, just paying a fine and/or having a criminal record.|
|Youth in Governance||Youth in Governance means youth and adults working together in positions of authority to make decisions and take action to strengthen organizations, communities, and our democratic society.|
|Youth in Government||The Wisconsin YMCA Youth in Government program seeks to foster the next generation of thoughtful, committed, and active citizens. The program aims to enable young people to prepare for leadership through participatory training in the theory and practice of determining public policy.|
|Youth on Local Boards and Committees||UW-Extension is working with county boards and city councils and their committees to include youth representation in several Wisconsin counties.|