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About The Award

Frequently Asked Questions


Who is eligible to apply?

Cities of Service welcomes application from cities only – nonprofits, individuals, counties, states, etc. are not eligible. Eligible cities must have 30,000 or more residents and be located in the Americas or Europe.

If my city is a current or former Cities of Service grantee, can we still apply?

Yes, current grantees may of course apply! However, current grantees may not submit applications for strategies that are currently funded by Cities of Service. Applications for strategies previously funded by Cities of Service may be eligible if they have been significantly altered and/or enhanced since the conclusion of the grant term.


How many applications can my city submit?

Each application must focus on one strategy. If your city would like to share multiple strategies for consideration, please submit a separate application for each strategy. There is no limit to the number of applications that your city can submit. Should your city submit multiple strategies and be selected as a finalist, we will advise on which strategy is being considered for the second round of judging.

Who can submit the application?

Applications must be submitted by a representative of your city under the direction and approval of an authorized executive or body (e.g., mayor, deputy mayor, chief executive, city manager, or equivalent). Applications must be endorsed by the authorized executive or body.

Where can I submit my application?

Applications will only be accepted through the Engaged Cities Award website. You will be able to download a copy of the questions as well as save and return to the application to review your entry prior to submitting by the deadline.

When are applications due?

Applications must be submitted by Friday, January 5, 2018.

How many questions are on the application?

The application consists of five questions, each ranging from 1,000 – 1,500 characters. Cities are also encouraged to submit a short 30 – 60 second video that explains why your strategy should be selected as a winner. The quality of the video file will not be a factor in the evaluation rubric.

Is there a language requirement for the application?

Yes. Your application, including answers to the questions and optional video, must be in English.

What if I have a question about applying or filling out the application itself?

If you don’t find the answer here, you can email questions to We will also host two informational webinars to share more about the award and answer questions. An informational webinar will take place on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 – you must register in advance on the Engaged Cities Award website. It is not necessary to attend both webinars as information shared will be the same for both sessions. Recordings will be available following both webinar dates on the Engaged Cities Award website. Check the Engaged Cities Award website for updated FAQs after the informational webinars.

Can applications come from partnerships of two or more cities, city and regional governments, or other combinations of government entities?

While submissions must be made only by single cities, a city may submit an idea that involves supporting partners. Partners, for the purpose of the Engaged Cities Award, can mean businesses, non-profit organizations, citizens, and other governmental entities, including, but not limited to state governments, sub-municipalities, and a range of other public systems or institutions. If supporting partners are involved, the application must clearly and substantively describe the role of the city as the lead partner.


How does Cities of Service define “citizen”?

Cities of Service defines citizens, regardless of their legal status, as residents who actively participate in their community and who see themselves as an integral part of their city. Citizens can be involved in many ways. For example, citizens may help plant trees or map blighted property in their neighborhood. They can also do much more, including contributing ideas to help solve river flooding, leading community groups to maintain stewardship of public spaces, and providing feedback to improve existing city programs and services.

What are the components of a strong strategy?

Cities of Service believes the strongest strategies intentionally tap the expertise and talent of citizens to tackle public problems. The strongest strategies demonstrate creativity, create efficiencies, are easily replicable, and foster collaboration and connections among citizens, city leaders, and key stakeholders.

Should the strategy be one that my city has already implemented or should we submit a strategy that we wish to implement in the future?

Strategies must have already been implemented and show evidence of significantly decreasing (or completely solving!) a public problem. Strategies that have not been implemented or have not demonstrated impact are not eligible.

What does Cities of Service mean by replicability?

Although the particular problem the city sought to solve may be unique to one city, the strategy should be replicable by other cities to solve other challenges and benefit their own citizens.

Selection Process

What happens after I submit my application?

All applications will be reviewed and evaluated after the January 5, 2018 deadline. You will receive a notification from Cities of Service by late January 2018 if you are selected as a finalist.

Who selects the finalists?

Cities of Service will select 10 cities as finalists.

What can my city expect if we are chosen as a finalist?

Engaged Cities Award finalists submit an additional, more comprehensive application. The finalist application asks cities to go into more detail about the identified challenge, city leadership involvement, deliberating with the community, strategy impact, replication, and lessons learned.

When will the winning cities be announced?

Winning cities will be announced in May 2018.

Who selects the winners?

Cities of Service, with the support of a Review Committee consisting of leading experts and practitioners, will select three cities as winners.

How much is the prize money?

The grand prize winner will be awarded $100,000 and two cities will each receive $50,000.

What can my city use the award funds for?

Funds can be used at the discretion of the winning cities in support of furthering the city’s efforts to engage their citizens to tackle problems.

What does a winning application look like?

A winning application must clearly demonstrate how the city significantly decreased (or completely solved!) a specific public problem by engaging citizens. Applications must also demonstrate the potential to replicate your strategy to other cities facing similar challenges. Click here to read more about the selection criteria.

What support can I expect from Cities of Service if my city is selected as a finalist and/or a winner?

Engaged Cities Award finalists and winners may receive media coverage and recognition leading up to, during, and after the Engaged Cities Summit. Cities of Service may publicize the work of Engaged Cities Award finalists and winners to showcase their efforts and spur activity among cities looking to accomplish similar change in their own city. Cities of Service may monitor the work of Engaged Cities Award finalists and winners, which may include visits from Cities of Service to observe their strategy, discuss the strategy with the city’s personnel and partners, and document the strategy to facilitate replication by other cities. Finalist and winning cities are eligible to receive regular technical assistance from Cities of Service.

Engaged Cities Summit

What is the Engaged Cities Summit?

The Engaged Cities Summit is an annual convening attended by mayors, senior officials, funders, and other national leaders to showcase and learn about successful strategies that engage citizens.

Where and when will the Engaged Cities Summit be held?

The Engaged Cities Summit will be held in New York City in May 2018. We will share more details about the Summit in early 2018.

Will a representative from my city be able to attend the Engaged Cities Summit?

Representatives from finalist and winning cities will be invited to attend the summit. We will share more details about the Summit in early 2018.

Cities of Service Engaged Cities Award

Shine a light on the best strategy to engage citizens in your city.