Alexandria’s community foundation has been awarded Knight Foundation grant of $102,000 over the next two years to create and implement the ACTion Alexandria Network designed to increase civic engagement and local philanthropy in the community.
The city council voted Tuesday night to approve a City partnership with ACT for Alexandria to create this Web 2.0 network to better engage residents in civic problem solving and increase philanthropy to local nonprofits and others.
In addition to the Knight Foundation and the city, additional financial support will be provided by private donors and the ACT Community Fund for a combined total of $292,000 over two years.
ACTion Alexandria will be an experimental and evolving online platform where Alexandrians engage and interact on civic matters especially in the human services arena.
“With nonprofits experiencing increased requests for services coupled with declining resources, alternative solutions to address these needs is both expedient and cost effective,” said John Porter, ACT’s Executive Director. “Directly engaging community members through the web is intended to provide not only more input on various issues, but also to facilitate an active approach to citizen-led problem solving. Converting online interest into offline action can make a tangible difference in the lives of Alexandrians and provide significant benefits for the City and community.”
ACT was one of 24 winners in the Knight Community Information Challenge. The contest helps community and place-based foundations find creative ways to use new media and technology to keep residents informed and engaged. Other winners included community foundations in Chicago, New York City and Silicon Valley.
ACT convened a steering committee and commissioned a $20,000 study in 2009 called “Connect Alexandria” to assess the feasibility of creating such a network.
ACT’s feasibility study indicated the city was ripe for a technological approach to better engage citizens in community problem solving and to increase philanthropy in the community.
ACTion Alexandria will be an ACT-administered initiative and overseen by an advisory board with relevant expertise.
A full-time Community Manager will provide both technical and organizational leadership support along with a part-time Business Manager who will oversee the operation and seek partners in the community to develop long term financial sustainability for the initiative.
The ACTion network is expected to be operational in the Fall of 2010.
ACT for Alexandria (formerly known as the Alexandria Community Trust) is a local community foundation founded in 2004 to be a convener, collaborator and catalyst for increasing philanthropy focused on Alexandria. Its other initiatives include the Center for Alexandria’s Children, Give Back Alexandria and Spring for Alexandria.