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All-America City Awards

The National Civic League recognizes ten communities each year for outstanding civic accomplishments. To win, each community must demonstrate innovation, inclusiveness, civic engagement, and cross sector collaboration by describing successful efforts to address pressing local challenges. More than 600 communities have won the award, some as many as five times. All-America Cities have shown the ability to innovate in such areas as job creation, neighborhood revitalization, crime reduction, new housing for low income people, improving education, and engaging youth.

The award program was founded in 1949 when a newspaper reporter approached the National Civic League (then known as the National Municipal League) with the idea of naming the 10 best governed cities each year. Instead, the league created a program that recognized cities for civic achievements. Today the award competition is open to neighborhoods, towns, cities, counties and metropolitan regions. In their applications, AAC finalists briefly tell their community stories, list two of their most pressing challenges and three outstanding community projects.

The award program culminates in a three-day event where community delegations tell their stories of successful change to a national jury of business, nonprofit, and local government experts. All-America Cities benefit by increasing community pride, networking with civic activists from across the country and gaining national recognition. The AAC designation has helped communities win grants and new resources and attract new employers.

AAC Criteria

  • Civic Engagement and collaboration: comprehensive citizen/resident engagement in decision-making and action planning, cross-sector collaboration (business, local government, nonprofits, military, etc.) and regional collaboration.
  • Inclusiveness and diversity: recognition and involvement of diverse segments and perspectives (ethnic, racial, socio-economic, age, sexual orientation, gender expression, people with disabilities, and others) in community decision-making.
  • Innovation: creative use and leveraging of community resources.
  • Impact: demonstrable significant and measurable achievements in the past 5 years (for example: dollars raised, jobs created or lives impacted), particularly in projects that address the community’s greatest challenges.

How to Become an All-America City

Communities qualify to participate in the program by filling out a five-page application. In the application, you will be asked to describe your community’s three best projects that have resulted in significant local impact within the past five years.  Past All-America City Award applicants have highlighted projects to increase third grade reading success for at-risk children, to increase health care for under-served populations, to create new businesses and jobs, to revitalize downtown, to engage youth in identifying and planning services and facilities, to promote cross sector collaborative centers, to increase fiscal sustainability, to develop emergency disaster plans, to recover from a natural disaster, and more. Those communities selected by the National Civic League screening process will send delegations to the annul three-day event where they will present their stories of positive community change to a jury of civic experts. The format is ten minutes for the community to present and ten minutes to answer questions from the jury.

FAQs about the All-America City Awards

Link here for past AAC winners listed by state.

Link here for past winners listed by year.

Sponsors of the 2014 All-America City Awards include:

  • Southwest Airlines, the Official Airline of the All-America City Awards
  • Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
  • Colorado Health Foundation
  • The Colorado Trust
  • Kaiser Permanente Denver/Boulder Offices
  • Alameda Gateway Community Association
  • Delta Dental of Colorado
  • FirstBank
  • Mile High United Way
  • PCL Construction
  • City of Aurora, Colorado
  • City and County of Denver, Colorado
  • City of Lakewood, Colorado
  • City of Dublin, California
  • City of Gladstone, Missouri
  • City of Rancho Cordova, California

Link here to find out about sponsorship opportunities of the All-America City Award.