Civic Academy

The Town of Arlington is accepting applications to its first Civic Academy. Applications were due by noon EDT Friday, Aug. 18. No tuition will be charged.

Applicants must be Arlington residents at least 18 years old. Sessions will take place on six successive Thursday evenings starting next month and be taught by relevant town staff members.

Civic academies are community engagement and educational opportunities conducted by municipalities across the country to encourage civic engagement and provide educational materials for the public on how town government operates, a town news release said.

Participants will learn how the town works. The course is geared to those interested in joining a town committee or commission, or Town Meeting. Preference for acceptance will go to those with fewer than three years of experience serving on a committee, commission or in Town Meeting.

Each session will provide an overview of government operations led by town officials with discussion and/or a hands-on activity. The Arlington Civic Academy is scheduled to meet once a week for two hours over the course of six weeks in September and October.

Contacted via email late last month, town publicist Joan Roman noted that similar academies have taken place in Lexington and Danvers.

"As we come out of the pandemic and the public is getting more comfortable with in-person engagement, the idea of holding a civic academy was something we began to investigate," she told YourArlington. "The effort supports the town's communications goals and aligns with recommendations from the recent Community Equity Audit, specifically, providing education aimed at increasing understanding about how the town operates and encouraging participation in town government."

She continued, "Lexington had reported their academy to be a positive experience for both staff and participants, plus it served as a good entry point for residents who wanted to get involved in local government to get some background first. [Arlington] town department heads were eager to participate. With encouragement from [recently retired] Town Manager Sandy Pooler, and enthusiasm from department heads, we moved forward to develop our civic academy. Staff are working to make this an informative and interactive educational experience."
Academy overview
  • The course will meet six consecutive weeks: Thursdays, 6 to 8 p.m., Sept. 14 through Oct. 19.
  • The course will enroll up to 20 participants.
  • Classes will be held in ADA-accessible municipal buildings in Arlington.
  • Light refreshments will be served.
  • Through funding through the American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA), childcare services will be available at no charge during each session in the same building as the classes. Additional details are in the registration form.
Curriculum overview
  • Sept. 14: Overview of Town governance and Town operations

    Become educated on how policy is created and enforced within town government.

  • Sept. 21: Services Night 1: Health & Human Services, Recreation and Libraries

    Understand the public health measures required to host events with food, how accessible parks and playgrounds are constructed and where to access literary and technological resources.

  • Sept. 28: Services Night 2: Public Works, Public Safety and Inspectional Services

    Comprehend the Town's environmental maintenance, how the public is kept safe by the Arlington Fire Department and the Arlington Police Department, and by what standards buildings are held to be considered safe.

  • Oct. 5: Services Night 3: Schools and Department of Planning and Community Development

    Find out how school districts are created, which school services are provided and the processes that lead the town to decide where to build.

  • Oct. 12: Finance and Budgeting

    Learn about how the money flows and the decision-making process that selects a project to get funded.

  • Oct. 19: How to get involved -- and graduation

    Become aware of how to apply to become a member of a board or committee.


To be considered for the Fall 2023 class, applicants must complete the application by noon on Friday, Aug. 18. Notice of acceptance will begin to be communicated during the week of Aug. 21, with all attendees expected to be notified of their status no later than Aug. 31.


For additional information, please email Arlington Public Information Officer Joan Roman (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

This news announcement was published Thursday, July 27, 2023. YourArlington volunteer Kim Haase prepared it for publication, based on information provided by Joan Roman of the Town of Arlington. It was updated July 29, with further information provided by Roman.