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2021 All-America City Award Winners 

Building Equity and Resilience

AAC WINNER-COLLAGE

Since 1949, the National Civic League has recognized and celebrated the best in American civic innovation with the prestigious All-America City Award. The 2021 awards event, held virtually, recognized communities that overcame the overwhelming challenges of the past year to unite during difficult times and build equity and resilience.

June 9, 2021 – Earlier today, the National Civic League announced the winners of the 2021 All-America City Award (AAC). These 10 communities showed the strength of their civic capital—the formal and informal relationships, networks and capacities they use to make decisions and solve problems—and provided examples of community-driven projects that have adapted and transformed the community to be more equitable and resilient.

The AAC finalists each provided a virtual community presentation to the awards jury panel from June 7-9, which then selected the winners. Community presentations included pre-recorded videos, virtual skits, music, spoken word, dancing and heartfelt stories to bring their projects and communities to life. Projects highlighted by the communities ranged from addressing racial disparities in public safety and other city services, to meaningfully engaging residents in finding solutions to issues such as homelessness, immigration, poverty, education, environmental sustainability, and pandemic relief.

The winning communities are:

Bellevue, Washington—Tremendous growth and economic investment made Bellevue unwilling to accept the tradeoffs of development or to leave some residents behind, Bellevue came together to become a more just and equitable community. Bellevue’s development of an accessible playground for children of all abilities, commitment to cultural competency and ability to meet resident’s needs during the pandemic are just a few of the reasons it is an All-America City.

Carlisle, Pennsylvania—Pre-existing collaborations and engaged residents allowed the community to respond to the compounding challenges of 2020 proactively and effectively. Carlisle has created an inclusive and equitable community by identifying and responding to resident needs, embracing communities of color in the struggle towards racial justice and establishing a climate action commission.

El Paso, Texas—An international migration crisis, a domestic terror attack and the COVID-19 pandemic tested El Paso's resilience. In response, the community established a Family Resiliency Center, offering healing and support to those impacted by the mass shooting; equitably deployed pandemic relief programs and support; and intervened with multiple programs created specifically to heal the physical, emotional, and psychological scars left by the last few years.

Evanston, Illinois—Anchored by Northwestern University and known for its architecture and beautiful homes on the lake, Evanston is an independent and thriving community. Evanston is being recognized as an All-America City particularly for its historic reparations plan for Black residents, community resource database and summer youth employment program.

Fort Wayne, Indiana—Over the last decade, Fort Wayne has experienced unprecedented momentum, investing in neighborhood infrastructure, business development, and quality of place amenities that have led to nearly a billion dollars in private investments and a renewed interest in downtown. Specifically, Fort Wayne is revitalizing its historic riverfront, increasing opportunities for Black men and boys, and removing educational barriers by supporting students, families, and educators through the Family and Community Engagement Center.

Kansas City, Missouri—Benefits from a surge of recent development in Kansas City have not been realized by all residents. In response, the city is applying an equity lens to its comprehensive plan update, improving transportation with a free streetcar system, and decreasing the life expectancy gap between White and Black residents.

Livermore, California—Collaboration was the key to Livermore’s bid to become an All-America City. Community partners highlighted anti-vaping efforts, a unified response to the youth mental health crisis, racial and social justice advancements and the progress of affordable housing programs.

Miramar, Florida—For two decades, Miramar has experienced astronomical growth, resulting in both benefits and growing pains. Through resident collaboration, Miramar has proven itself to be resilient in its response to these challenges by cultivating a resilient and equitable economy, increasing access to arts and culture and revitalizing a historic part of its community.

Morrisville, North Carolina—The idea of living connected and living well guides the Town of Morrisville's decision-making processes in all areas and has been the catalyst for infrastructure improvements. Morrisville established an accessible and healthy food hub, responded to the pandemic collaboratively and uniquely created a welcoming atmosphere for immigrants by embracing the game of cricket.

Wheat Ridge, Colorado—For its first 35 years, Wheat Ridge was a quiet city where residents commuted to other cities to work and shop. However, as time went on, it became important to find a way for the city to evolve, while still honoring its rural roots. Wheat Ridge is being recognized as an All-America City for its great work to improve civic capital, particularly by developing a grassroots leadership program, prioritizing environmental stewardship with resident-led initiatives and coming together to respond to the challenges of 2020 

“Congratulations to all winning communities and finalists!” said Doug Linkhart, president of National Civic League. “Each winner leveraged civic engagement, inclusiveness and innovation to successfully address challenges facing their communities. These communities serve as examples to others facing similar issues and provide hope that collaboration among community leaders, elected officials and concerned residents will help communities of all sizes tackle complex issues.”

You can learn more about all of the cities and their projects at the National Civic League website. (https://www.nationalcivicleague.org/2021-finalists/) Videos of all presentations will be available on the website. (https://www.nationalcivicleague.org/america-city-award/participant-presentations/)

In collaboration with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, we are thrilled to announce the 2022 All-America City Awards theme - Housing as a Platform for Equitable Learning Recovery. Additional information is now available at the National Civic League website.

The National Civic League advances inclusive civic engagement through our community assistance programs, including tools, trainings and facilitation services, our award and recognition programs, and nationally recognized research and publications. We promote efforts that seek to listen to, and to learn from residents in ongoing conversations and leverage those insights to help reshape communities so they will thrive. 

The All-America City Award is made possible through the support of Southwest Airlines, the official airline sponsor, The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, CGI Communications, ICMA-RC, U.S. Census Bureau, Google and Comcast.