Led by a team of pragmatic practitioners, CivicLab creates the tools and frameworks that form the underlying foundation for the practice of community collaboration.

CivicLab is a nonprofit institute dedicated to advancing the practice of civic collaboration. CivicLab’s approach is to learn what makes community collaboration work at its best, document these discoveries, and teach and share the practices broadly. We teach collaborative community teams how to better approach complex social problems by redesigning the way they work together. Since our founding in 2012, we have partnered with and served more than 375 communities across the country and have trained more than 20,000+ leaders and community stakeholders.


Stakeholder Engagement Process

CivicLab’s Stakeholder Engagement Process is a relationship-based, systems-building approach. It is rooted in the idea that when it comes to addressing a social problem, it’s a systems thing, not a single thing. And the “system” is the way we have chosen to work together. Every community has a process it uses to collaborate, whether it knows it or not. And before things can be made better, a group has to be able to see their process and understand it. As the adage says, if you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, then you may not know what you are doing. By teaching community teams how to redesign the way they relate to one another and work together, we help our partners build and lead social systems that better serve all people and improve the human condition.

Learn more about CivicLab’s innovative Stakeholder Engagement Process and Systems-Building Design Process.

Civic Lab Initiatives

A Systems Leadership Academy

Systemness is a ten-month leadership academy to co-create wholistic social systems that serve whole people. The Academy teaches systems-building principles, shares concrete examples of the ideas in action, and provides a space to practice the skills. The course is designed to empower experienced collaborative and/or systems leaders to approach and address complex social problems from a systems perspective.

Talent Hubs

Talent Hubs are designated exemplars that stand out for their efforts to ensure that residents of all backgrounds receive education and training after high school. Find out how business, civic, and education leaders are working together to prepare people for informed citizenship and success in a global economy.

Rural Learning Systems: Supporting Rural Cross-Sector Partnerships

CivicLab is partnering with ten rural community and regional cross-sector partnerships around the country in developing education to employment partnerships. CivicLab will assist these rural collaboratives in developing and implementing plans to strengthen talent development ecosystems so that rural learners have paths to good jobs in their communities. In addition to direct financial support, partnerships will receive capacity-building support from CivicLab and specialized technical assistance from a network of experts.

Architecture is something you can see. You can’t see a spirit or a temperament or a character, though, and there’s an invisible part of this community that I’m very proud of because, in a democracy, I think that the process is more important than the product.” J. Irwin Miller, The Washington Post, 1986