An OTF Project: Fair Trade Community Engagement Toolkit | Director General’s Office


The Operations Transformation Fund (OTF) blog series provides a brief overview of its projects. This article focuses on the PHL Service Design Studio (SDS) and the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism (MOCEVS) Equitable Community Engagement Toolkit.

The toolkit seeks to change the way the city thinks, plans, and engages with Philadelphia communities. Community input is needed to shape government policies, programs and services.

Community engagement is how the City:

  • connects communities to programs and services;
  • understands their needs;
  • shares decisions; and
  • works in solidarity with neighborhood community organizers.

This toolkit aims to create guidance, training, and a community of practice to help city engagement practitioners engage with Philadelphians more equitably.

What stage is this project at now?

The key phases of creating the toolkit are:

  • Phase 1 – SDS worked with City staff, community leaders and residents to better understand engagement challenges, needs and more.
  • Phase 2 – after interviews, focus groups, co-design sessions and advisor meetings, SDS created 45 summaries and 3 reports to share with stakeholders. Additionally, the team created a database to better understand trends in feedback from city staff and community members.
  • Phase 3—DSS developed a foundational strategy for the toolkit (e.g. vision and success metrics) and guidance, tools, and training mapping needed to achieve this vision.

So what’s the next step? Enter: Phase 4.

  • Phase 4 – the Studio has hired two content strategy fellows, one user experience strategy fellow, and one software developer. They will help write, design, and build the toolkit on The team will also create a community advisory group that will oversee the piloting of the toolkit with city agencies and communities. And MOCEVS will hire an Equitable Community Engagement Manager and Trainer who will embed toolkit-centric practices throughout the city of Philadelphia.

Once a prototype of the toolkit is released, the team will begin training city engagement practitioners to support their daily work.


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