2020 Online Community Engagement Cohort Applications Now Open

Posted on July 15, 2020

As part of our mission to help our members find joy in public service, ELGL offers high-quality, accessible, affordable learning opportunities in a variety of formats. This month, we’re opening applications to our next Level Up Cohort, a three-month program to help local governments adapt to online community engagement, learn the basics, and create a project-ready strategy for virtual engagement.

Bang the Table & ELGL are excited to announce the 2020 Community Engagement Cohort, a three-month learning opportunity designed for busy local government staff who are currently working to develop their engagement skills to meet new and changing needs. 

Online engagement is becoming part of the Next Normal – as the world works to manage the spread of COVID-19, mitigate barriers to participation in civic life, and ensure equitable participation for all communities. That’s why ELGL & Bang the Table are partnering on a rapid-learning opportunity with this three-month program focused specifically on using online engagement tools and strategies to successfully involve your citizens, businesses, and stakeholders in civic decisions. Participants in this course, focusing on building a strategic approach to online engagement, will learn the foundations of online engagement and leave with a project ready for virtual community engagement. 

This isn’t a typical engagement training – this is an active learning environment with webinar training, discussion boards, live discussions online and by video, content sharing, and more. This cohort will build a network of professionals who can trust one another and continue to learn from one another long after the cohort program ends. We hope this will be the training you’ve always dreamed of attending – because we’ve been planning the training we’ve always dreamed of attending.

Part of ELGL’s Local Gov Cohorts Program, this cohort is designed to help public service professionals identify opportunities, increase knowledge, and build relationships with peers around the world. 

Learn more about the cohort in the Program Overview

Participants will review all the foundations of online engagement and leave with a project ready for virtual community engagement. The main objectives are:

  • Be able to design and implement an online engagement process that is inclusive and aligned with best practices.
  • Understand the opportunities and the challenges of online engagement and know how to address challenges in a creative way.
  • Identify the appropriate online engagement tools for a variety of different projects or situations, how to apply them and how to be creative with them.

Cohort participants will work as peer groups to support one another’s project development and will be matched with mentor experts from around the country for one-on-one assistance. Each cohort member will identify and complete a project plan for community engagement during the cohort. 

Apply today for the 2020 Community Engagement Cohort!


As a participant in the cohort, you’ll also be matched with an expert mentor from the ELGL network who will work with you one-on-one through monthly calls. ELGL continues its call for mentors for cohort programs: our experts from around the world sign up to volunteer one hour per month with a cohort community to provide guidance and share resources as cohort participants navigate funding, ownership, implementation, and resource challenges in their field. Sign up to be a mentor here today! 

Who’s eligible to participate? 

Local government employees who are interested in strengthening their community engagement strategies and plans in any department are invited to apply. Applications will require a short 350-word essay identifying a challenge or problem area you’d like to focus on. 

How much does it cost? 

With generous funding from Bang the Table, this year’s cohort cost is only $750 (with a scholarship of $750 from BTT). Partial and full scholarships for the remaining registration cost are available and can be applied for via the application form. All cohort materials, resources, and trainings are included, as is registration for the virtual #ELGL20 conference (October 12-16, 2020) where the cohort will present their work to attendees. Registration also includes access to the BTT collaboration platform and the Engagement 101 Handbook.

What is the timeline, and what are the time commitments? 

Applicants must commit to roughly seven hours per month of participation:

  • A biweekly training session of 1.5 hours with the trainer, guest speakers and time for discussions
  • Online engagement with the trainer and cohort peers of at least 30 minutes after the training call ends
  • Up to two hours of asynchronous work that can be completed on your own time online and in the workbook
  • Mentor meetings up to 1 hour monthly
  • Online sessions are every second and fourth Tuesday from Sept. 15 to Dec. 15, with holiday exceptions, at 11 PT | 2 ET

This is a three-month program that begins on September 15 and runs through December 18, 2020. Applications are open from July 15 to August 30 and selections will be announced September 4, 2020.

Wait, do I get one of those cool rockstar mentors with this program? 

Yes! As a participant in the cohort, you’ll be matched with an expert mentor who can help you develop your own engagement strategy, answer questions, and work with you one-on-one to solve real problems you’re working on during the cohort. 

What if I have more questions? 

Download the program overview for more detailsIf you still have questions, contact Emily, our program manager, at emily@elgl.org.

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