A Guide to Community-Centered Engagement in the District of Columbia

The Guide to Community-Centered Engagement was developed by the Georgetown Climate Center (GCC) in partnership with the District of Columbia's Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE). The guide synthesizes lessons from a year-long engagement process that GCC helped to lead in partnership with DOEE. GCC convened an Equity Advisory Group (EAG) of community leaders and residents in far Northeast neighborhoods of DC's Ward 7 to inform the implementation of the Clean Energy DC and Climate Ready DC plans. These neighborhoods were selected for an intensive community-driven planning process because they were identified in the District's climate vulnerability assessment as facing disproportionate flooding and other climate-related risks relative to other parts of the District. The Community Engagement Guide provides lessons from the EAG process, and is intended to help District and other local government agencies institutionalize equitable planning processes. In addition to best practices around community engagement, specific recommendations are provided for centering racial equity in community engagement.



Think through methods to lead a community-driven planning process on climate policies.

The Guide explores the following key lessons from the EAG process in Ward 7:

  • Government should work with community groups to co-define the vision and scope of a community-driven engagement process.
  • Dedicated funding is needed to ensure that engagement processes are equitable and inclusive of different voices.
  • Community committees provide an opportunity to hear from a diversity of perspectives and build consensus around resilience and sustainability initiatives.
  • Community committees provide an opportunity for government to come to the table to listen and learn, rather than convince and persuade.
  • Community committees allow government agencies to co-design recommendations that are stronger because they are grounded in both community expertise and the realities of government.
  • Relationship and trust building should be a high priority but requires government partners to come to the table with transparency and accountability.

A Technical Appendix includes materials developed to facilitate the EAG process in Ward 7.

This project was funded as part of the Partners for Places Equity Pilot Initiative—a project of the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities.

Publication Date: October 2018

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  • Planning guides

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