Springdale Receives All-America Award for Civic Engagement

A Northwest Arkansas community for the second year in a row received the All-America City Award.

The award went to Springdale, one of just 10 cities in the country to receive the distinction in 2018 from the National Civic League. The award was announced June 24 at the National Civic League’s All-America City Awards Conference in Denver.

Each of the winning cities demonstrated civic engagement practices that were inspirational, inclusive and promising in their ability to unite members of the community to collectively and collaboratively help solve the nation’s most pressing and complex issues, the league said.

The 20 award finalists provided community presentations to an awards jury on June 23 and 24. The jury selected the 10 winners.

Joining Springdale as this year’s winners were Stockton, Calif.; Longmont, Colo.; Decatur, Ga.; Las Vegas; Charlotte, N.C.; Kershaw County, S.C.; Mount Pleasant, S.C.; El Paso, Texas; and San Antonio.

Community presentations included skits, music, spoken word, dancing and stories that brought the various projects and communities to life. Projects highlighted by the communities ranged from addressing systemic racial trauma through community driven organizations, to engaging residents in finding solutions in areas of mental health, education, fiscal sustainability, environmental stewardship and police-community relations.

Springdale, other Northwest Arkansas cities, community organizations and the region’s leading companies are working with the Northwest Arkansas Council as part of EngageNWA, an initiative to help residents and newcomers work together to broaden inclusion and engagement and an effort that’s intended to strengthen the regional economy by positioning Northwest Arkansas as a community of engaged global talent.

“It’s our hope that Springdale’s All-America City Award is the first of many that we’ll see Northwest Arkansas cities win in the coming years,” said Margot Lemaster, the executive director of EngageNWA who joined a small group of community representatives at the Denver conference.

Springdale’s application for the award focused on a citywide effort to better incorporate people of color and new Americans into civic life. The city has created a Mayor’s Youth Council, and it plans to create instructional videos in multiple languages to educate people about city offerings and a civic academy that’s heavily geared toward underrepresented residents. Additionally, the city will host forums to better facilitate dialogue between underrepresented community members and city leaders.

Those representing Springdale also talked about the city’s downtown master plan that was completed in 2015, and they discussed the success they’ve had in bringing more people to the downtown area with regular events like the farmers’ market and community celebrations such as Christmas on the Creek and Ozarktober Fest.

Those who presented to the jury in Denver were Kelly Syer of Downtown Springdale Alliance, Al Lopez and Diana Gonzalez Worthen of OneCommunity, Aerial Courdin of the Springdale Chamber of Commerce and Lemaster.

In 2017, Springdale won the All-America City Award for its efforts to help young children achieve grade-level reading proficiency.

More than 500 All-America City Awards have been given since 1949.