California Inclusive Engagement Initiative

The CalEngage Initiative at the Possibility Lab is a framework, tool and platform for government and community leaders seeking to turn public input into actionable innovation.

Why Now?

California faces unprecedented challenges that defy easy solutions – from climate change, to racial justice, income inequality, and the housing crisis.

Meanwhile, many of the people who have the most to gain or lose on these issues have been historically left out of the policymaking process.

That’s why we’ve brought together a wide range of government and community partners to launch the CalEngage Initiative.

Together, we are building a durable civic infrastructure that can inform policymaking at the highest levels of government.

As an initiative, CalEngage is:

Developing research-backed and co-designed models for informed and inclusive civic engagement.

Designing technical infrastructure and on-the-ground processes for community engagement projects.

Deploying these practices in partnership with government and communities to inform on-going work.

At the core

of CalEngage is meaningful engagement with residents—understanding their needs, leveraging their expertise, and helping activate their engagement to address our most pressing social challenges. Through pilot projects that are measured, iterative, and collaborative, CalEngage is making immediate impact.

The CalEngage Model

CalEngage and community partners co-own a design and implementation process for engaging the public and specific communities in public policy decisions, with trusted community organizations assisting with both sample selection and recruitment.

Project teams design and host informed and inclusive engagement exercises, then gather and summarize insights and ideas that emerge. These exercises can take a range of forms depending on the desired goals and outcomes.

Project teams support government partners as they use community inputs to identify specific recommendations and actions, implement reforms, and evaluate outcomes. Evaluation includes broad assessment of the model, as well as specific assessment of the innovations that emerged from engagement.

Projects iterate on innovations, to continuously refine and improve innovations, to understand “what works,” and to enable replication and scale-up of evidence-based policies and practices. Projects also engage in ongoing reporting back to stakeholders and out to the broader public.

CalEngage is undertaking a series of pilot projects that deploy and test innovative ways of engaging diverse stakeholders. These projects are tackling some of the state’s most critical issues, while also building, testing, and deploying tools to enhance civic engagement and improve democratic discourse. 


When it comes to civic engagement, don’t just check the box. Think outside it.