Civic Academy

UPDATED March 20: The Town of Arlington accepted applications for its second civic academy through March 18, 2024. No tuition is charged.

To be eligible, applicants must be Arlington residents at least 18 years old. Sessions take place on six successive Thursday evenings starting in April, taught by relevant town staff members.

To be considered for the spring 2024 class, applicants had to complete the application by March 18. Applicants are to be notified of their status no later than March 30 unless a cancellation creates an opening. For additional information, email Arlington Public Information Officer Joan Roman (jroman at town.arlington.ma.us).

According to the town, participants will learn how the town works and the role they potentially can play in town government. The course is geared to those interested in joining a town committee or commission, or in running for Town Meeting or another elected office. Preference generally goes to those with fewer than two years of experience serving on a committee, commission, or in Town Meeting.

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. Each session will provide an overview of government operations led by town officials with discussion and/or a hands-on activity. 

Before the first civic academy began, in fall 2023, 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 upcoming course will meet six consecutive weeks: Thursdays, 6 to 8 p.m., April 25 through May 30.
  • The course will enroll up to 20 participants.
  • Classes will be held in ADA-accessible municipal buildings in Arlington.
  • Light refreshments will be served.
Curriculum overview
  • April 25: Overview of Town governance and Town operations
  • May 2: Arlington public schools and libraries
  • May 9: Public Works, Inspectional Services, Fire, and Police
  • May 16: How to get involved; Town Clerk, Health & Human Services, and Department of Planning and Community Development
  • May 23: Budget and finance
  • May 30: Graduation

Dec. 4, 2023: Town honors its first civic academy graduates

This news announcement was published Monday, Feb. 12, 2024. YourArlington volunteer Kim Haase prepared it for publication, based on information provided by Joan Roman, spokeswoman for the Town of Arlington. It was updated March 20, for date references.