We’re hiring fellows to help us build an Equitable Community Engagement Toolkit with City staff, community groups, and community members.

About the Equitable Community Engagement Toolkit

Community engagement is the foundational way government opens its doors to connect communities to programs and services, better understand community need, share decision-making, and work in solidarity with what is already occurring in neighborhoods. However, many communities won’t and can’t interact with government because we’ve either broken their trust or haven’t created the conditions for their engagement. 

The impact? Inequitable norms and values have contributed to a lack of investment in resources, training, and staff capacity to make engagements accessible and accountable to communities of color, people with disabilities, people who have limited English proficiency, people with limited digital access, and other historically marginalized groups. As a result, our policies, services, and programs reinforce marginalization as the people most impacted by government decision-making don’t have the opportunity to give voice to their needs. 

To address these realities, the PHL Service Design Studio and the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service have been working on an Equitable Community Engagement Toolkit in collaboration with City engagement staff, community groups, and Philadelphia residents. The Toolkit is a Citywide initiative that will transform how the City of Philadelphia thinks about, plans for, and facilitates engagement with the communities we serve. It’ll include a vision and guiding principles, strategies and tools, evaluation resources, training, and a cultivated community of practitioners made up of City engagement staff and community members. All guidance will be accessible online within the phila.gov platform. The Office of Innovation and Technology content, user experience, and software engineering teams will support the building of the Toolkit.


For the past 18 months, the Toolkit team has been working closely with City engagement staff, community groups, and residents to better understand engagement barriers that span language, disability, and digital access issues. In addition, the team has focused on how inequities based on a person’s race are exacerbated by the City’s engagement practices. In the new calendar year, we’ll transition from co-design to writing and building Toolkit guidance based on our deep work with community. By fall of 2022, we’ll start to pilot the Toolkit guidance with City agencies and community members to test its efficacy.

Funded by the Operational Transformation Fund

The City of Philadelphia’s Operational Transformation Fund (OTF) is a $10 million internal City fund where transformative municipal projects are invested in over the next two fiscal years (2022 and 2023). Across different City departments, OTF projects are implementing people-centered and sustainable solutions that focus on efficient and equitable service provision to benefit Philadelphians. OTF project teams receive ongoing support and assistance from the City’s Office of the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), which manages the OTF, and participate in activities as a cohort. Read more about the OTF. 

Current fellowship positions 

The following fellowship positions are available. Please see job descriptions for full details on the project, how we work, and our residency requirements. 

For questions about the fellowships, contact service.design@phila.gov.