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Citizens Academies

Town of Davidson, NC

OPTIMIZING PROGRAM SCHEDULING AND KEEPING COSTS LOW

  • Town of Davidson, NC: Civics 101
  • Population: 10,944
  • Years Offered: 4 (2006-present)
  • Signature Innovation: Two programs run simultaneously to serve many participants while preserving small class size; spends less than $500 per year

Civics 101 is offered every spring for seven weeks, from January until March. In essence, the town offers two simultaneous programs. The seven sessions of each program are held on consecutive Thursdays—one from 9:30-11:30am and one from 6-9pm. Due to consistently high citizen interest (a small waiting list exists) and a capped enrollment of 20 for each program, town staff feel that this schedule structure is least taxing on presenters' time and serves twice as many participants at once.

By recruiting through word of mouth advertising, Facebook, the town website, and outreach to individual residents, town staff then use a mixed method of selection: first-come, first-served and choosing applicants who have signed up to create a diverse class. Staff also solicit recommendations from the town board.

Light snacks and coffee are offered each week. In addition to the graduation certificate, participants are given a mug. Such minimal expenses enable the town to spend about $500 or less each year. Even without spending thousands on the program, the town has improved on its citizen participation goals as two graduates serve as elected commissioners and many other alumni now sit in appointed capacities.

 

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