Civic Challenges

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Deep disparities

Deep disparities exist between black and brown Americans and their white counterparts, which have largely gone unchanged for the past 50 years.

In 1968 black Americans were 3.5 times more likely than white Americans to be living in poverty. Today they are, on average, still twice as likely to be living in poverty.

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Declining trust

There is declining public trust in institutions that shape civic life such as government, philanthropy, business, media, and religious organizations.

Fewer than 30% of Americans trust the government to do what is right.

Fewer than 15% vote in local elections.

More than 33% of Americans confess to never having met their neighbors.


Uncertainty about what works

Though billions of dollars being are invested in cities each year to solve social problems, there remains uncertainty about which investments are really working to move the needle.

A recent survey of 119 private and community foundation CEOs found that 34% have only a moderate understanding of what is working well in terms of their investment in programmatic efforts. Only 43% say they understand very well or extremely well what is not working.

The great challenge of our time is the loss of any coherent notion of the common good.

Thriving Cities Group believes a first step to addressing complex systemic issues such as the racial wealth gap and broken social trust is to reforge the common good. This is done by building the will and ability of people to work together, across lines of difference, and through seemingly impermeable walls between institutions and communities.

We do this through Civic Design.

Civic Design: A multi-disciplinary approach

Civic Design is an approach that draws on a decade of sociological research, technology and community organizing. Thriving Cities Group integrates these disciplines into our three product offerings.

Our Work

City Craft

The Paradigm | Thought Leadership so city institutional leaders can better understand and promote thriving


The Platform | Technology for philanthropic donors to make more equitable and enduring community investments

Institutions Who Have Supported Our Work: