Protestors rioting following a police shooting, historical economic inequity, rising rents and dwindling supply of affordable housing, parched crops, flooded streets, invasive exotics crowding native species, and other issues impact ecosystems, businesses, and families in many communities today. Inspired by a rich history of working in communities, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) and the University of Florida (UF) are jointly investing in Community Voices, Informed Choices (CIVIC)- civic engagement at its best.
CIVIC is a community-based statewide effort advancing opportunities for people to come together to collectively solve community issues in real and meaningful ways. Building on existing expertise and resources across the two universities and their strategic partners, CIVIC enables communities to pursue incremental, practical solutions to challenges that disrupt community cohesion. CIVIC programs provide science-based information through platforms that engage discussion, share perspectives, and create momentum to address concerns.
Together, FAMU, UF, and strategic partners are investing for the future, a future where thousands of community members -many who don't know each other- gather in churches, offices, museums, and libraries to explore issues that matter to them and tailor solutions unique to their community. While this investment leverages existing university and partner resources, it also well positions CIVIC to grow internal and community capacities at the pace of change.
The CIVIC program aligns with FAMU and UF's institutional missions to extend university research-based education to local communities through their respective Cooperative Extension Systems. Building on the decades of work by the Kettering Foundation's National Issues Forum Institute, and adding Extension's successful tradition of providing neutral science-based information, CIVIC serves as a catalyst to develop the capacities to launch, implement, and sustain the program. The innovative partnership of the two institutions leverages and scales existing education and capacity resources supporting community engagement and provides a forum to forge new and innovative partnerships to generate new resources and support for participatory democracy.