U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Redefining Community Engagement

Thursday, July 14, 2022

In FY22, the Community Development Department(CDD) established a Community Engagement Advisory Group for staff to share best practices and reflect on strategies to make engagement more inclusive and equitable. This Group developed a handbook on inclusive and equitable engagement best practices which will be published in September 2022. The handbook, which uses an anti-racism and equity lens to approach planning, implementation, and reflection of community engagement strategies, will be used to increase participation in public processes and programs.

The Community Engagement Team’s (CET) efforts shifted from pandemic crisis work to more sustainable family support, including sharing educational resources and career opportunities with Cambridge families. CET hosted 4 virtual networking events on best community engagement practices for over 400 attendees and collaborated with other City Departments on outreach efforts to become more welcoming to diverse communities.

Housed In Cambridge
Several City departments collaborated to launch the Housed In Cambridge outreach and education campaign that included 10 webinars on housing topics, the creation of new online resources ,and the translation of the Tenant Rights and Resource Guide into eight languages. The Housed In Cambridge series on 22-CityView, the Municipal Channel, was translated and broadcast in multiple languages.

Participatory Budgeting (PB)
The City completed its eighth PB cycle in which residents decided how to spend$1,140,000 in FY23 capital funds. Over 7,400 residents voted, the second highest participating rate in Cambridge PB history, to determine the projects to receive funding. The City has allocated $6.415 million to PB since its inaugural FY16 cycle. Learn more.

Municipal Election Vote By Mail and Ballot Drop Box Options
In 2020, state government introduced a mix of new regulations to expand ballot access and minimize the risks of COVID-19 to voters and poll workers. Voters were provided the option of vote by mail, vote early in person, or vote in person on election day. The regulations were extended through December 15, 2021. The City of Cambridge Election Commission initiated the first ever vote-by-mail process for a Cambridge Municipal Election, in addition to in person voting, on Election Day, November 2, 2021. Six secure ballot drop boxes were located throughout the city for voter convenience. Election staff processed 13,464 early voting ballots.

The Port Infrastructure Improvements Project
The City convened a working group to help guide the Port Infrastructure Improvements project. The group will spend 18 months advising staff on key issues related to planning and design of $35 million worth of improvements to sewer, drainage, water, street, sidewalk and open space in the Port neighborhood.

Immigration Legal Screening Clinic
The clinic provided virtual consultations to over 290 clients/groups from over 70 countries in 2021.

Library Branch Hours were Expanded to at least five days of library service, including three nights, at all branch locations for an increase of over 50 hours of service per week across the library system. This also includes expanded Saturday hours and a pilot of Sunday summer hours at the Valente Branch.

Closed Captioning and Meeting Coverage. 22-CityView, The Municipal Channel, introduced Closed Captioning into all broadcasts of City Council meetings and City Council Committee meetings and increased its broadcast of these meetings.

The Public Square: Cambridge Conversations.  In partnership with My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Task Force, 22-CityView began production on a broadcast series, The Public Square: Cambridge Conversations, a monthly virtual program that features a rotating cast of local and nationally recognized voices discussing and debating the relevant issues of the day. The partnership with MBK led to another collaboration to hose two COVID-19 vaccination clinics at the Cambridge Community Center administering 100 doses to residents.

The Family Policy Council continued work on the Language Justice Initiative and developed a draft Plain Language Guide, created in partnership with staff from the Department of Human Service Programs, the Human Rights Commission, and the Commission for Persons with Disabilities. The guide provides best practices for making in formation more accessible to people who speak and read languages other than English and to people with a range of cognitive and physical abilities.

Cambridge Youth Council (CYC) includes 14 high school students who provide the Family Policy Council with valuable youth perspectives. CYC’s recent work focuses on mental health supports for young people and advocating for MBTA to expand its free bus program so more students can benefit from it.

Find It Cambridge, an online resource that helps people easily find events, services, and resources in Cambridge ,continued to enhance its user experience.

Walking and Biking Programs. Staff organized 24 bike workshops and community rides for 500 youth and adults, as well as the Safe Routes to School program, the 6thGrade On-Bicycle Program and other programs at Cambridge Public Schools.

Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program interns gained employment experience at a variety of non-profit and City job sites.

Energy and Climate Change Programs. Cambridge Energy Alliance continued robust community engagement, including a door-knocking campaign in summer of 2021to register residents for energy efficiency assessments.

Zoning & Development Public Education Initiatives 
In FY22, staff began outreach to help advisory committees and the general public better understand Cambridge’s zoning-related work, addressing the Ordinance, zoning petitions, and the project review process. During FY22,staff advanced efforts to develop an updated Zoning FAQ and Zoning Guide to better assist the general public in accessing and understanding the City’s Zoning Ordinance and project review process. These documents are expected to be released in FY23.

Accessible Voting System. The Election Commission launched a new accessible system that allows voters with certain disabilities to cast their ballots independently and privately. Voters who are blind or have vision impairments, mobility/dexterity disabilities, or other disabilities that make it difficult or impossible to access a paper vote by mail ballot could cast their ballots from home using the Omni Balloting system.

Contact Us

How can we help?

Please provide as much detail below as possible so City staff can respond to your inquiry:

As a governmental entity, the Massachusetts Public Records Law applies to records made or received by the City. Any information received through use of this site is subject to the same provisions as information provided on paper.

Read our complete privacy statement

Service Requests

Enter a service request via SeeClickFix for things like missed trash pickups, potholes, etc., click here