Reimagining the Civic Commons is transforming our shared civic assets to foster engagement, equity, environmental sustainability and economic development in cities across the country.

To counter the trends of increasing economic segregation, social isolation and distrust, a collaboration of national foundations and local civic leaders are reimagining civic assets as a solution.


Just 31% of people believe most people can be trusted
From 1970 to 2014, the percent of people living in predominantly poor or affluent neighborhoods rose from 15% to 37%

A New Way of Working for Cities

Creating revitalized and connected public spaces means reimagining not just the places themselves, but how communities design, manage and operate these shared assets. Central to our approach is the belief that by managing our shared public spaces as a portfolio of assets, we can create positive social outcomes. To guide everyone working on an improved civic commons, we have developed a set of nine core principles critical to getting the most out of our civic assets and created a report sharing powerful impacts of this model in five cities.

Investing with Intention: Our Four Outcomes

We believe in the power of the civic commons to deliver social, economic and environmental benefits. These four outcomes guide this new approach to public space:

Civic Engagement

Building a sense of community that brings people of all backgrounds back into public life as stewards and advocates, shaping their city’s future.
Signals: Public life, stewardship and advocacy, trust.

Socioeconomic Mixing

Creating places where everyone belongs, and that generate opportunities for shared experience among people of all incomes and backgrounds.
Signals: Mixing on site, reputation, bridging social capital, neighborhood diversity.

Environmental Sustainability

Increasing access to nature and creating environmentally friendly places, easily reached by walking, biking or transit.
Signals: Access to nature, ecological indicators, walkability/bikeability.

Value Creation

Encouraging additional investments in neighborhoods so that they are better places to thrive.
Signals: Safety, retail activity, real estate value and affordability.

Evidence of Impact

We have designed a practical measurement system to analyze the impacts of investments in public spaces and in surrounding communities, and to track progress over time. Our data-driven approach offers a new method for determining the multifaceted value of reinvesting in civic assets.

Reimagining the Civic Commons has been measuring the impact of investments and management in our demonstration cities. Now these measurement tools are available for download for anyone who wants to better understand the impacts of civic asset investments.

Learning Network

Reimagining the Civic Commons brings together practitioners, policymakers, advocates and residents advancing new ways of designing, managing and measuring public spaces. We aspire to measure the impact of investments in civic assets, support the innovation and collaboration required to achieve those impacts and increase broad-based support for these investments in cities across the country. Housed at U3 Advisors, the Learning Network provides this growing community of practice with access to research and impact assessment, elevation through storytelling, and opportunities to learn from other cities pursuing this important work.

Initiative Details