Inviting all Superheroes of the Civic Participation Contagion

Sandy Rodriguez

Do you want improvements in your community?  Do your elected officials go to bat for the things that matter most to you?  Do you wish you had more of a say in what happens in your city and state?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, we invite you to take part in a newly launched Civic Ambassadors initiative, by becoming an Ambassador in your community.


A group of people at the press conferenceAt a press conference last week at the Connecticut Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Secretary of State Denise Merrill and Everyday Democracy Executive Director, Martha McCoy, co-chairs of Connecticut’s Civic Health Project, launched the State’s Civic Ambassadors initiative. 


Research shows links between strong civic health and economic resilience and other positive indicators. Civic Ambassadors share the importance of civic education and engagement and are the catalysts for civic action that can lead to stronger civic health and REAL socioeconomic benefits, in terms of social capital and community well-being. They’ll receive training and resources and become certified by Secretary of State Merrill.


“Civic Ambassadors are the heroes,” said Secretary of State, Denise Merrill.  “They are the ones connecting to their local communities to make things happen. It is easy for you to become part of the Civic Participation Contagion.”


Some of the ways Civic Ambassadors can spur civic progress in their communities is to form local dialogue sessions with representation from throughout each community.  The goal is to come together across divides to solve tough problems.  It is important to ensure that underrepresented groups are part of these dialogues, and those who may not have found their “voice” yet are given a safe space to share their thoughts. Other ways Ambassadors may improve civic health include encouraging volunteering and donating to community groups, improving voter registration and voting in elections, encouraging neighborhood social gatherings, and connecting with public schools and other institutions in each community.

Already, many groups have been formed and are active in their communities.  One example is Hartford Decides, which connects with individuals who want to see positive changes in Hartford to engage in a participatory budgeting process for the city.  A certain amount of the city’s budget is set aside so Hartford residents can actually vote for projects that mean the most to them. 


Other groups creating positive change speaking at the press conference included the University of Connecticut’s Campus Dialogue Initiative, CT Parent Power and the State Department of Education’s Red, White and Blue Schools initiative.


“We would like to see every community in Connecticut represented,” said Martha McCoy.


Newington High School student Lucas Houle said not to get caught up in the frustration of everyday government. “This is a time for leaders,” he said. “The world is waiting for people to give back.”


GET INVOLVED.  Contact Val Ramos at or (860) 727-5917 find out more about becoming a Connecticut Civic Ambassador.

September 28, 2017

Sign Up for Email Updates!Wasn't that inspiring? Sign up for more stories like this one


Dialogue to Change

Our ultimate goal is to create positive community change that includes everyone, and our tools, advice, and resources foster that kind of change. Whether you’re grappling with a divisive community issue, or simply want to include residents’ voices in city government, Everyday Democracy's Dialogue to Change process, using a racial equity lens, can help.