Center for Civic Innovation
Empowering problem solvers in our community
CCI is a community-based innovation ecosystem where residents, businesses, local governments, and academia tackle our region’s challenges. We support civic innovation that leads to a more equitable and sustainable community.
 Problem solvers already exist in our communities and need to be involved in the processes that affect them. We uplift service-driven entrepreneurs and grassroots efforts through training, capital, collaboration, and space to grow ideas into services and solutions that can be implemented and scaled.
 Decisions should be made by communities, not for them. Ideas and solutions should come from the citizen stakeholders, through a participative process driven by openness, accessibility, listening, curiosity, empathy, respect, trust, and enabling positive change. We help local government and nonprofits integrate community members as leaders in the programs and projects that affect them, and commit to inclusive, enduring impact that evaluates outcomes in measurements of equity and quality of life.
 Information should be available to all. Open data on the issues affecting our community leads to more informed and inclusive decisions. Our work bridges the moral imperative for systems change with data to justify the investments. By serving as a “systems manager” for community-based projects, we increase accountability to stakeholders and see projects all the way through until the problem is solved. We use data and analytics to develop a deep understanding of the problems we face, and measure the impact of solutions.
What We Do (and how we do it)
We empower citizens to solve problems for their communities, and prepare institutions to respond in a way that ensures meaningful and equitable participation. We leverage technology and data to make citizen engagement an inclusive, fair, and effective process, then maintain the long-term vision to see coalition-based work through to resolutions. Many programs out of government and academia struggle with accessibility and outreach to the community, so we connect those with lived experience to the institutional problem-solving process. Participation is often a privilege; therefore, we work to meet the needs of stakeholders who have barriers such as inflexible work schedules, technology, transportation, childcare, language, accessibility, and other obstacles, to include the expertise of lived experience and historical knowledge.
Cultivate the knowledge, skills, and resources for the people in our communities
Our Fellowship program cultivates the mindsets, leadership skills, design practice, and data fluency of civic innovators, so they may develop their ideas into implementable solutions. Some programs include financial support, physical space, and mentors.
Convene key partners to close the innovation gap
Data collaboratives connect government, academia, nonprofits, private sector, and citizens to the information, ideas, and solutions needed to scale. Throughout history, we’ve seen remarkable advancements in science, medicine, and technology that have been the catalysts for profound change. We believe that empowering civic innovation through a coordinated effort will lead to breakthroughs in how our society works. CCI serves as the conduit, coordinator, and physical space for coalition work.
Create data and analytics tools
We enable data-informed decision-making by supporting open data, internal innovation, and cultivating data-driven organizations. For example, our Budget Visualization Tool provides transparency for citizens into the local government budgeting process and priorities, and supports public engagement and planning.
Active Programs and Projects
We believe civic innovation is an essential exercise of community empowerment. To intentionally foster civic innovation, including equity-related projects, we've developed this program to give innovators the space, network, and support to realize success.
Networked Public Spaces
Based in the University of Virginia School of Architecture, this project grapples with the challenges that smart cities create for local communities. We are engaging residents in the planning process, rather than implementing technologies without community input. We are working toward an infrastructural art installation that allows technology to be in service of communities by surfacing data about the urban environment. Imagine - for example, pedestrian-scaled lighting that changes color when there is more air pollution or dimmer when there is less noise.
Coalition Systems Management
We work to ensure equitable, inclusive, and diverse participation for community members engaging in coalition-based work. We facilitate work groups to establish the vision and design process of the project, develop and manage the action plan, collect and report progress to stakeholders, implement systems to manage the project, and collect and share data. If you are engaging with the community and would like to learn more about our services leveraging empowered communities and data, contact us.