Working together to build a more connected, informed, and engaged Wisconsin.

Civic Health of Wisconsin

We are a non-partisan initiative which informs, promotes, and supports civic health efforts across Wisconsin.

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.

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What is the purpose of "Civic Health"?

Wisconsin-wide “Civic Health” is essential for a better Wisconsin.  We define “Civic Health” to mean individual and collective engagement for communities to define and address public problems and work toward conditions which allow all communities and Wisconsinites to truly thrive, and promote democracy in which all can participate.  Wisconsin should strive to be an exemplar in Civic Health.

How does this look for the Initiative?

The Civic Health of Wisconsin Initiative:

  • gathers and shares information from and with policy-makers, civil society organizations, and Wisconsinites about current and past barriers and efforts to promote civic health and raises awareness about key issues and efforts affecting civic health in Wisconsin
  • offers a Wisconsin-wide platform to share information and make connections across local initiatives promoting and supporting civic health
  • advocates for, promotes, and provides resources and support for efforts and interventions that support civic health across Wisconsin
  • connects Wisconsin to civic health networks and efforts across the U.S. and beyond
  • promotes and contributes to the development and deployment of Civic Health-supporting policy and other efforts on a statewide level, as well as a variety unique and replicable local and grassroots efforts

For updates and information about Civic Health of Wisconsin events, join our mailing list and visit the Civic Health of Wisconsin Facebook page.

Participate in Wisconsin's August 2024 Civic Health Challenge!

August is Civic Health Month, a nationwide celebration held to showcase the strengthening relationship between health care, healthy communities, and civic participation. As a result, we present Wisconsin’s Civic Health Challenge!

Complete a challenge, build a habit, connect with others, and enter to win!

Click here to accept the challenge!

By joining, you will receive a daily challenge representing a civic health habit you can implement in your life. At the end of the month, complete an evaluation and document the challenges you completed for a chance to win a gift certificate.

Monthly Civic Health of WI Meet-Ups

Join us for a virtual monthly meet-up to discuss the civic health of Wisconsin and connect about our work!

All are welcome! Participants will include organizations and individuals doing civic health work across the state from a variety of sectors. The meeting facilitators and discussion topics will change each month. Feel free to drop in for these meetings as you are available!

Date: Every 1st Tuesday of the month
Time: 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Location: Zoom (Please sign up below for the link and calendar invites!)

Click here to sign up for the Monthly Civic Health of Wisconsin Meet-Up!


For any questions, please contact Mary Beth Collins ( or Costanza Generali (


Get involved

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.

Contact us

Civic Health of Wisconsin Bulletin

In this regular bulletin, we collect the latest civic health news, highlight organizations in the civic health network, and celebrate community efforts around Wisconsin. If you are interested in receiving these quarterly updates by email, please join our email list.

Read the latest bulletin

Bulletin archive


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. We present these data alongside Wisconsin demographic information, civics education standards, trends in local politics and news, and current civic health efforts.

Download the report

This version of the report was updated in July 2024.

Civic Engagement with Foreign-Born Wisconsinites

Foreign-born residents are 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.

Download the brief

Resources for Dialogue and Depolarizing Conversation

In partnership with members of the Civic Health of Wisconsin Initiative, the CommNS put together an inventory of resources for dialogue and depolarizing conversation. This living document points toward tools to help groups and individuals of all kinds navigate difficult conversations, so we can move forward in compromise and community.

Download the report

A network of Civic Health efforts across Wisconsin

The inventory below is a growing list of civic health efforts in progress throughout Wisconsin. 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.

Submit a civic health project

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Arts and culture

Create Wisconsin Create Wisconsin is the state’s only community cultural development organization that aims to activate and advance creative opportunities for everyone through advocacy, service, and promotion towards success.
Love Wisconsin Love Wisconsin is a digital storytelling project that celebrates our state, our lives, and our shared future. Love Wisconsin uses storytelling and social media to bring about a more connected, compassionate, and engaged Wisconsin.
Portraits from Rural Wisconsin This documentary and set of video portraits offer a series of interwoven personal stories, showing why some western Wisconsin residents still say that “rural life is the best life” — even in the face of hardship and change.

Civic conservation and the environment

350 Wisconsin 350 Wisconsin mobilizes grassroots power to change hearts and minds, laws and policies, and humanity’s massive systems to make transformational progress toward environmental justice and solving the climate crisis by 2030.
Aldo Leopold Nature Center Aldo Leopold Nature Center is leading the way to ensure visitors of all ages and backgrounds have opportunities to connect with nature by offering positive and constructive learning opportunities that capture their interest, engage their senses and teach them to appreciate the interconnectedness of all living things.
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’s Green Fire Wisconsin’s Green Fire: Voices for Conservation was founded in 2017 to promote science-based practices and a long-term vision in environmental protection and natural resources management. Through our strong and growing membership of conservation professionals and committed citizens, Wisconsin’s Green Fire seeks to restore and strengthen Wisconsin’s tradition as a national conservation leader.
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.
Walnut Way Walnut Way is a nonprofit neighborhood organization founded in 2000 by Lindsay Heights residents to reclaim and redevelop the economic health and vitality of their community.
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.

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.

Coalition building

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

COWS COWS is a national think-and-do tank that promotes “high road” solutions to social problems.
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 Education We teach, learn, lead and serve, connecting people with the University of Wisconsin, and engaging with them in transforming lives and communities.
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.
Polco Polco’s civic engagement platform makes meaningful communication between community leaders and the people they serve not only possible, but enjoyable.
WiCC IMPACT Project The WiCC IMPACT project attempts to catalogue all partnerships in Wisconsin between WiCC campuses and their communities of interest.
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign is a homegrown network of citizens fighting government corruption and working for fair elections, judicial integrity, media democracy, and open and transparent government. The Democracy Campaign pursues these objectives through research, citizen education, community outreach, coalition building and direct advocacy.
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.

Democratic participation and civil rights

AARP Wisconsin AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them. With over 840,000 members and several local community chapters across the state, AARP Wisconsin is making a difference for older people and their families.
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.
Campus Compact 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.
EXPO EXPO (EX-incarcerated People Organizing) works to end mass incarceration, eliminate all forms of structural discrimination against formerly incarcerated people, and restore formerly incarcerated people to full participation in the life of our communities.
Forward Games The Forward Games platform enables nonprofits, cities, and civic institutions to run mobile games that promote civic learning and engagement across the state of Wisconsin. We offer family-friendly trivia, LIVE games, and location-based challenges to make local engagement tangible and fun.
Keep Our Republic Keep Our Republic is a national nonpartisan civic education organization with a Wisconsin advisory board, which works to promote trust in the strength of our republic and its institutions.
Souls to the Polls Souls to the Polls has united Milwaukee faith leaders and their congregations to strengthen the voting power of the Black community.
Veterans for Political Innovation Wisconsin Veterans for Political Innovation is a community of military veterans who advocate for election innovations that build a healthy and truly representative American democracy, facilitated by competitive elections, where all citizens are both incentivized and excited to participate.
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 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.
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 information access

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.
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.
Urban Rural Action Urban Rural Action brings together ideologically, racially, generationally, and geographically diverse cohorts over many months. These cohorts build relationships, strengthen collaboration skills, explore different views on issues, and work together to address urgent challenges.
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.
Wisconsin Watch Wisconsin Watch is the news outlet of the nonpartisan, nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. We increase the quality and quantity of investigative reporting in Wisconsin, while training current and future investigative journalists. Our work fosters an informed citizenry and strengthens democracy.
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 development

Community-Based Leadership Program Locator The University of Wisconsin Division of Extension hosts a map of community-based leadership development programs around Wisconsin. Visit the link to explore opportunities in your community.
Elevando Wisconsin Elevando Wisconsin está diseñado para elevar sus habilidades de liderazgo personal y comunitario y construir una red de líderes en todo Wisconsin. Elevando Wisconsin is designed to elevate your personal and community leadership skills and build a network of leaders across Wisconsin.
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.
Local Government Leadership Academy Participants in the Local Government Leadership Academy enhance their leadership skills and gain tools to address issues impacting local government.
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.
Tribes Lead! The Tribes Lead! program, coordinated by UW-Madison Division of Extension, is a forthcoming tribal-focused leadership skills program built on indigenous teachings and informed by tribal communities.
Wisconsin Lake Leaders Institute Wisconsin Lake Leaders Institute enhances Wisconsin’s lake resources through leadership, training, and civic engagement.


American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin (AICCW) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that offers targeted services to American Indian entrepreneurs to promote WI Indian Country economic development. This comes in the form of providing advocacy, resources, tools, and networks.
Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) represents eleven Ojibwe tribes in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. They provide natural resource management expertise, conservation enforcement, legal and policy analysis, and public information service.
Tribes Lead! The Tribes Lead! Leadership Development Program focuses on culturally responsive leadership skills in the Lac du Flambeau, Lac Courte Oreilles, and Menominee Nation communities.
Wisconsin Conservation Voices Wisconsin Conservation Voices brings people together to protect the state we love by improving public health, protecting natural resources, and promoting a robust democracy.

Volunteering and civil society

Common Ground Common Ground is a non-partisan group of ordinary citizens of Southeast Wisconsin, dedicated to identifying problems facing our community and implementing creative solutions.
Conversations to Remember Conversations to Remember is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated towards combating loneliness and isolation felt by senior citizens.
Design Wisconsin The UW-Madison Division of Extension Design Wisconsin program is one way you and your community can apply principles of community design to improve civic health. The program encourages the exchange of ideas, formation of a vision, and development of a plan to help a community execute design improvements.
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.
La Crosse Neighborhoods, Inc. La Crosse Neighborhoods, Inc. (LCNI) advocates for initiatives and programs that protect, preserve and improve all of the neighborhoods in the La Crosse area for all residents.
Sharing Active Independent Lives (SAIL) SAIL bolsters senior independence with community. SAIL is a family of fascinating people sharing our passion for life.
Our nonprofit membership program provides older adults throughout the Madison area with a vibrant senior community of learning, activity, socialization, and support for one another.
Serve Wisconsin Serve Wisconsin works with AmeriCorps members and community partners to meet critical needs throughout Wisconsin. AmeriCorps members are given the opportunity to enrich the lives of the people and communities they serve and their own lives through professional and personal development.
United Way of Wisconsin United Way of WI creates lasting positive change in the state by maximizing local United Ways to strengthen and mobilize thriving communities.
Volunteer Center of Racine Volunteer Center of Racine is Racine County’s resource hub for volunteerism including in-house programming and services to improve its community’s well-being.
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.
Wisconsin Philanthropy Network Wisconsin Philanthropy Network is a professional membership association for grantmakers throughout the state. It aims to provide networking opportunities, skill building, and research services.

Youth civic enagement

Badger Boys State Badger Boys State educates young leaders on how to become more impactful community members of Wisconsin. During the program, high school students between their junior and senior years learn how our government system works by creating their own city, county, and state level governments.
Badger Girls State Badger Girls State, organized by American Legion Auxilliary, is a government and leadership conference bringing together nominated young women to form a delegation for a fifty-first state, which will function according to the laws of the State of Wisconsin.
Boys & Girls Club of Wisconsin The Boys & Girls Club of Wisconsin works to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.
By Youth for Youth By Youth For Youth (BYFY) is a volunteer committee of Dane County high school students that makes investment decisions in youth-led programming in Dane County. BYFY provides youth the opportunity to identify needs and issues that are important to them and direct funding to address those needs through projects developed and implemented by youth to serve youth.
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.
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.
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.
Milwaukee Succeeds Milwaukee Succeeds advances education equity in Milwaukee, making sure children have all the resources they need for success. This comes in the form of sharing decision making, centering racial justice, and changing systems of power.
Rhizome Rhizome organizes to empower student-led communities, place students on paths to lifelong leadership, and shape a healthier future for our local communities and our country. Rhizome is a place for action and ideas, a home for emerging leaders to organize around what they care most about.
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.
The Civics Center The Civics Center is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing voter registration to every high school in America.
Wisconsin Civic Learning Coalition Wisconsin Civic Learning Coalition (WCLC) is a group of organizations and individuals committed to strengthening nonpartisan civics education in the state.
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 Forward Youth Forward MKE is a partnership focused on improving success trajectories for Black male through creating space, building relationships, and shifting power towards the local youth.
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.