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May 18, 2010

Brad Rourke's PACE paper on the executive branch and civic engagement

(Washington, DC) In March, courtesy of Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE), I was able to meet with White House staff to discuss strategies for public engagement and civic renewal. The meeting was informed by a fine draft paper by Brad Rourke. Brad has revised and expanded the draft to produce "An Evolving Relationship: Executive Branch Approaches to Civic Engagement and Philanthropy." I strongly recommend it as a historical and conceptual overview of efforts--nonpartisan, even though they started with presidential administrations from George H.W. Bush to Barack Obama--to enhance citizen engagement. The goal is for citizens to "do things for themselves--identifying and solving community problems, discussing and choosing between different possible solutions, making tradeoffs." As Brad notes:

Rasmussen recently surveyed a national sample and found: "44% believe volunteer activities and organizations are more likely than new government programs to bring about the change needed in the United States. Thirty-seven percent (37%) take the opposite view and say that new government programs and policies will bring about the needed change. " That result could be taken as evidence of conservatism, but there is a long tradition of grassroots centrist and even leftist activism that makes the same assumption. Michelle Obama, at least year's National Conference on Volunteering and Service, hammered away on the theme that positive change comes from the bottom up, not the top down. Brad's paper is basically about efforts from the very top--the White House--to enable bottom-up change.

May 18, 2010 7:49 AM | category: none



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