Civic Engagement Incubators

Civic Engagement Incubators: Building Cultures of Connection


Using our signature approach, Reflective Structured Dialogue (RSD), we help communities develop the trust needed for the constructive engagement of differences. We work with individuals, communities, and organizations through open enrollment workshops and field projects, and we customize our programs to address the needs and cultural norms of the community at hand.

Every community potentially has different and unique divisive challenges. We’re offering to help connect the dots by establishing relationships with these localities. In turn, a relationship-based approach to civic dialogue for communities invites a new approach to training local leadership to respond to challenges as they arise.

The Program

In states across the nation, we are developing the capacity for communities to organize and facilitate structured dialogues across difference. Through training local leaders to facilitate dialogues, and supporting communities as they continue the process for themselves, we are helping to build sustainable, thriving cultures of courageous conversation.

Our pilot CEI programs in Ohio and Utah are examples of how we are fostering the strength and capacity of a broad (and ever growing) group of facilitators to offer transformative experiences of dialogue while stoking public awareness that this work is not only possible, but crucial to the future of civic life in their communities, states, and nation.

We have also received substantial funding through the Bridge Alliance Collective Impact Fund to support a two-year project in Utah, where implementation is now underway.


The ideal engagement would secure 25 local community leaders whom we will train in RSD and its application over the course of the one year, reaching at least 1,250 everyday participating citizens. Each of the facilitators will reach hundreds, and collectively thousands of people in their own neighborhoods, localities and online networks in the years ahead.

Data and Evaluation

In addition to tracking the number of facilitators trained and individuals reached via community dialogues, we will monitor progress toward broader aims of inspiring community-wide shifts in attitude and approach to civic engagement, using Essential Partners’ Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning system (MEL), which employs a range of specific indicators and measurements. We use MaxQDA software for data analysis and tracking, in-person questionnaires at the conclusion of training, and follow up interviews according to set protocols. Please take a look at how we harness our MEL system here.


  • 3-, 6-, and 12-month qualitative evaluations from the first cohort of 25 trainees in each state will generate learning for adjustments/improvements for potential new cohorts, as well as solidify the model for replication.

  • Networking and identification of next states for replication of the approach began in June 2017, with hopes to launch in at least two more states in spring of 2018.


Tell us how we can help you bring our Reflective Structured Dialogue practice to your community! Contact us at or call us at (617) 923-1216.

For more information, download the CEI Mini Proposal.