New summary report released: Community Engagement Strategies

Community engagement is a critical component of ensuring that a community has input and is receiving information from its local government. Cities have used a variety of engagement strategies to gather feedback on its services, as well as inform future planning. As a growing community, the City of Peoria is tasked with facilitating engagement with the community but is often challenged by communicating with “hard-to-reach” community members, often those underrepresented in their communities. 

In fall 2021 and spring 2022, Peoria’s Office of Communications partnered with three classes to design strategies for bettering its community engagement processes. 

The original student content is available on the Project Cities website. Read the full summary report here.  

Community context

Sustainability is a driving force in the community, and following a series of town hall meetings with Peoria residents about the City’s Sustainable Peoria Plan, there is an opportunity and need to further engage the community in the City’s planning processes. In the fall 2021 semester, students from LaDawn Haglund’s Human Rights & Sustainability course met with Peoria staff members to discuss Peoria’s sustainability initiative. Following the interviews, students recommended actions to the City of Peoria, including building out its community forestry initiatives and more public transport connectivity. Throughout the student recommendations, a common theme emerged for the City of Peoria to continue its community engagement practices. 

Designing the project scope

From this recommendation, three graduate students from Greg Broberg’s Research Methods course designed a community engagement research plan for the City of Peoria. Based on the findings from the Human Rights & Sustainability course, the students designed a plan that includes conducting a community-wide survey and an in-person qualitative survey at one of Peoria’s community events. Based on this plan, undergraduate students from Greg’s spring 2022 Research Methods course put the plan into action.

Group of people
JUS 301 students at City of Peoria Arts & Cultural Festival, Spring 2022

Community engagement

Students conducted a virtual survey with Peoria residents to capture their perceptions related to resource accessibility, childcare, access to financial resources, community involvement, and information accuracy. Most notably from the survey results, 81% of the participants agreed or strongly agreed that they believe the information they receive from the City of Peoria is accurate. Additionally, students attended the Peoria Arts Festival to survey residents in person. Residents identified that they wished for more events like the Arts Festival. Based on the surveys, students recommend several actions for Peoria to consider in expanding its community engagement, including developing a neighborhood app for community events and services, conducting focus groups with residents to glean which activities they would participate in, and expanding its communications through social media and mailers.

Project Cities is a member of the Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities Network (EPIC-N) and is administered by ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory and the Sustainable Cities Network. Stay up to date with Project Cities and the Sustainable Cities Network by following us on social media or subscribing to our newsletter