PHILADELPHIA – The City of Philadelphia’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service and the PHL Service Design Studio today launched the beta version of the Equitable Community Engagement Toolkit website. It serves as a compass for equitable community engagement within City government. It provides guidance, stories, tools, and training on how to center equity in your work. 

“Over the past three years, we’ve worked with over 160 colleagues and community members to inform the vision and guidance of the Engagement Toolkit. We’ve been transformed by this work and the care our collaborators have shown in sharing their lived expertise with us,” said Lead Service Design Strategist Andrea Ngan.  

Danita Reese, a Lead at the PHL Service Design Studio, followed up: “We don’t take their contributions lightly. While we’re joyous to release the beta version today, we’re looking forward to delivering the fully accessible site and Citywide program in several months.”  

In its current state, site users can find 29 guides covering a range of topics including project planning, evaluation, accessibility, languages access, and how to center racial equity in engagement. Users will also have access to 35 tools and templates to help them apply learnings immediately. The site is mobile and desktop-friendly and includes features for users to submit feedback, suggestions, and stories.  

“The Equitable Community Engagement is a priority for the City of Philadelphia because the decisions we make impact residents, and they should be central to our decision-making. Equitable community engagement is central to building trusting relationships and fostering collaboration between City government and communities,” said Chief Administrative Officer Stephanie Tipton. “We are here to support communities’ ability to pursue their own priorities.”  

This perspective resonates with community member and Engagement Toolkit’s Community Advisory Council participant Shimaa Eid, [The Community Advisory Council] felt like a space to be authentically heard and to feel relevant to the decision-making process in Philadelphia, as an individual who is not at the table, who doesn’t see herself at any tables. This was an opportunity to realize how there is a lot of potential for good when one’s lived experiences are valued and uplifted above credentials and research findings. I want people to know that I have had my hopes revived in seeing meaningful change.” 

“We are thrilled to have the Equitable Community Engagement Toolkit ready to share in its beta version. Not only are we launching this to share best practices in equitable engagement with our communities, we are also sharing this for transparency to inform residents on how we’re working to improve community engagement across the City,” said Romana Lee-Akiyama, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement. 

The core mission is to make the Engagement Toolkit’s content available in multiple languages and fully accessible. Over the next few months users can expect translated content into Spanish and Simplified Chinese. The team will also be testing the site to make sure it passes accessibility standards. 

While the team completes the website, users are encouraged to visit the site and share thoughts using the feedback features.