Community Indicators for Your Community

Real, lasting community change is built around knowing where you are, where you want to be, and whether your efforts are making a difference. Indicators are a necessary ingredient for sustainable change. And the process of selecting community indicators -- who chooses, how they choose, what they choose -- is as important as the data you select.

This is an archive of thoughts I had about indicators and the community indicators movement. Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Call for “Real Stories” proposals

Here's an announcement from the Community Indicators Consortium I need to pass along:

Call for “Real Stories” proposals

The Community Indicators Consortium (CIC), as part of a grant with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, is seeking proposals to write “Real Stories” of communities, organizations and/or jurisdictions that have tried—successfully and not-so-successfully—to integrate community indicators and organizational performance measures.

For the purposes of the Real Stories project:

• Community indicators are generally measures of conditions or outcomes important to community residents, such as sustaining the natural environment or maintaining a vital economy or taking part in arts and cultural activities
• Performance measures are generally management results, outputs of services, efficiency, or outcome measures tracked by specific agencies or organizations that provide services or benefits to the public, such as parks and recreation or maintaining roads and sewers or improving public health and safety.

The Real Stories project is intended to provide real life examples of the advantages and challenges to both community indicator and organizational performance measurement projects as a result of integrating these two types of efforts:

• community indicators would have a greater influence on what governments and organizations do to improve a community and
• governments’ and organizations’ performance measures would be more relevant to the community conditions of the greatest concern to citizens and other key community stakeholders.

Although governments and communities may actually have the same desired ultimate outcomes, and while there are hundreds of community indicator projects and as many or more performance measurement programs, there is limited published information of efforts to integrate these two types of projects. Documenting these stories as well as tools and practices that practitioners have used will allow other communities and jurisdictions to learn from and improve on these integration efforts.

Proposals must be submitted as a Microsoft Word format document using the Real Story Proposal Submittal Form provided at the end of this call for proposals. The information required includes:

• a brief description of the community/jurisdiction to be studied,
• why this community/jurisdiction was chosen for study,
• the major topics or concepts to be covered,
• key tools and processes the community/jurisdiction used for integrating community indicators and performance measures successfully, not-so-successfully, or toward creating opportunities for improvements, and
• proposed methodology for developing the Real Story.

In addition, the following information is required for the proposed the author(s)

• Contact information (name, organization, address, phone number and email address)
• A brief bio
• A brief description of author(s) knowledge or experience with community indicators and/or performance measures.

Please include all information in a single MS Word document, using single spacing, Arial font, size 10. The proposals must also follow the length for each section as listed in the Real Story Submittal Form.

Submittals should be sent to with “Real Story Proposal” in the subject line and the proposal form as an attached Word document. Please do not include additional attachments. Proposals are due no later than June 15, 2009. Only proposals submitted electronically will be considered.

The proposals will be reviewed through a peer review process and those selected will be notified by June 30, 2009. The proposal selection criteria broadly include:

1. Relevance to the benefits of integrating community indicator and performance measurement efforts
2. Barriers to such integration and methods used to removing such barriers
3. The stage of development of the effort studied
4. Demonstrated and documented results
5. Methods and techniques that worked and did not work
6. Potential for replication of the individual community efforts

Authors of the selected proposals will be asked to develop their proposals into fully developed Real Stories (from 5-20 pages in length) by the deadlines listed below. Each Real Story selected should include:
• an in-depth discussion (specific community/jurisdiction and why it was chosen, citizen and key stakeholder engagement, resulting community improvements),
• descriptions of the tools and methods used for integration which could be applicable for other communities, and
• a one-page ‘Project Highlights’ that will provide summaries for specific target audiences of practitioners and decision-makers.

Each chosen Real Story will be peered reviewed again before it is recommended for publication. CIC will use an editor to ensure consistency among the Real Stories and clarity of discussion in the Real Stories’ documents. Authors of the Real Stories chosen for publication will receive a stipend of $2,000. Three-to-four Real Stories will be selected for publication in 2009. There will be another call for Real Story proposals in 2010.

Real Stories deadlines
6/15/09 - Submission of Real Stories proposals for peer review
6/30/09 - Notification of selected proposals and guidelines for development
9/18/09 - Submission of Real Stories first draft for peer review
11/15/09 - Approval of final draft Real Stories
12/31/09 - Publication of year-one selected Real Stories

Proposals due no later than June 15, 2009, to

Questions should be emailed to Maureen Hart, CIC Executive Director: at

For more information about CIC, please visit our web site at


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