US Mayor Article

Education Institute Develops Hollywood's Citizen Leaders

July 17, 2000


The City of Hollywood, Florida wants all residents to have an opportunity to participate in local government decision-making and become leaders in their community, and it has developed a program to accomplish this.

Hollywood's Educational Civic Institute (ECI), launched in 1997, is a leadership and training program that helps residents learn about all aspects of local government. Upon completion of the program, they are encouraged to become active members of City boards, advisory committees and community organizations that work to improve the quality of life in the City.

"This is a wonderful program that has contributed to the enrichment and leadership development of many of our citizens," says Hollywood Mayor Mara Giulianti. "Citizens who have completed the Educational Civic Institute have gone on to serve on the City's Budget Advisory Board, the City-Wide Master Plan Committee, the African American Advisory Board and the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Advisory Board."

Offered once each year, the ECI program consists of two-hour class sessions held on Monday evenings over an eight-week period. Those completing the program participate in a graduation ceremony and then become part of the City's Civic Infrastructure Team.

When the ECI was created, its specific objectives were to 1) strengthen City- stakeholder partnerships for improved responsiveness to community concerns; 2) improve understanding of the governmental decision-making process; 3) give participants access to the decision-making process; 4) provide the tools necessary to develop an overall vision for the City going beyond involvement in single issues; and 5) increase awareness of the City's volunteer opportunities.

Following an evaluation of these initial goals, specific goals were established for the 1999 program. The new goals called for 1) increased community awareness of the ECI program, to result in heightened resident interest and an increase in requests for applications; 2) a 50 percent increase in the number of program participants; 3) an increase in the percentage of participants who complete the program; 4) an increase in the number of program graduates who become involved in City boards and committees; and 5) incorporation of a leadership training program into the ECI curriculum.

Planning for the 1999 ECI program began in May, and the curriculum that was developed was aligned at that time with the City's strategic direction.

  • Presentations by 22 speakers, including office and department directors, covered local government operations and issues.

  • A bus tour designed to focus attention on Hollywood's Capital Improvement Program enabled participants to view construction projects underway throughout the City.

  • A leadership training session helped participants assess their leadership skills and determine the extent to which they wanted to become involved with City boards or community organizations.

To expose participants to the diversity of the City's facilities and their uses, classes have been held in a variety of locations. Mayor Giulianti, who has supported the program since its inception, engages each year's classes in discussions of local government issues. In 1999, with the addition of a session involving City Commissioners, participants were divided into groups of 10 for roundtable discussions.

To recruit participants for the 1999 ECI program, City staff members developed an integrated marketing, public relations and media relations campaign. The marketing tools included:

  • a low cost brochure which was distributed to Hollywood residents via neighborhood associations and made available at a variety of locations;

  • a series of press releases announcing the program and encouraging residents to apply ;

  • articles for placement in "Hollywood Horizons," the City's quarterly resident newsletter which is mailed to 57,000 households in Hollywood;

  • an article for placement in the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce's publication targeting the City's business owners;

  • a letter inviting merchants to participate in ECI;

  • a web page dedicated to promoting ECI which was hyperlinked to the City's home page; a free downloadable pdf version of the the ECI application was available on the web page;

  • presentations made by City public relations staff members at 13 homeowners and civic association meetings;

  • an announcement which was posted, and which is repeated, on the City's cable access channel; and

  • announcements which were sent to newspapers for their calendar listings.

To ensure ample opportunities for interaction among participants and ECI presenters, class size is limited to 50 participants. In 1999, more than 200 people requested applications for the class and, following enrollment of the 50, a waiting list of 30 people developed. A nominal fee of $10 is paid by each participant.

Detailed information on Hollywood's Educational Civic Institute is available from the City's public relations director, Arlene Allen-Mitchell, at (954) 921-3644 or at aallen@hollywoodfl.org.

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