Civic Health


What is Civic Health?

Civic health is the degree to which citizens participate in their communities, from local and state governance to interactions with friends or family. Civic health relates to the overall well-being of neighborhoods, communities, states and the nation (National Conference on Citizenship)

It's made up of two elements:

  • Civic Infrastructure: the spaces such as schools, parks and libraries that help us stay connected and policies and practices that foster belonging, making civic participation possible
  • Civic Participation: the ways people engage in community life to improve conditions and shape the community’s future, whether through political activities such as voting and advocacy, or community activities such as volunteering and mentoring 


Why Does it matter?

Data reveals that places with more structural barriers to civic health are more likely to show signs of diminished civic participation, fewer social and economic opportunities and worse health outcomes.

Efforts to strengthen civic health lead to much better outcomes.

Research shows:

  • A positive relationship between civic engagement and economic resilience.
  • When previously disenfranchised groups build power and express their will through voting and advocacy, the policies that followed benefited the health and well-being of all.
  • Progress is made toward health equity when all people are heard and have meaningful participation in decision making processes.


Civic Health in the Dan River Region

Help us better understand our region's civic strengths and where there may be opportunities for improvement. 

The Civic Index, developed by the National Civic League, measures a community's civic capital - the formal and informal relationships, networks, and capacities that communities use to make decisions and solve problems.

This short questionnaire should take less than 10 minutes to complete. Your responses will help us develop strategies to improve the civic health and overall wellbeing of the communities in our region.


Complete the Civic Index here!


If you would prefer to fill out a paper copy of the Index, contact Maggie at or 434-791-4273


Once all of the Civic Index responses are compiled, we will report back the findings during our October Regional Health Collaborative meeting. More details and a save the date coming soon!

We know that building leadership and capacity and strengthening civic health go hand in hand, so we feel that the Regional Health Collaborative is well-positioned to lead this work. While our local chapters will continue to identify and develop collaborative strategies to address specific health equity issues, we believe that our regional effort to strengthen civic health will help to complement the chapters' work and make it even more impactful. 

Learn More

Explore the following reports:

Check out the In Solidary Podcast and their second series focused on Civic Health


Communities that have strong civic health have...

  • Engaged Residents - They encourage residents to play a more active role in shaping decisions. Residents work to solve problems rather than waiting for government to solve their problems.
  • Inclusive Leadership - They cultivate and support leaders from all backgrounds and diverse perspectives.
  • Collaborative Institutions - They effectively collaborate across sectors.
  • Willingness to Address Diversity and Equity - They address diversity and equity and move towards better outcomes for all.
  • Authentic Communication - They support credible, valuable information moving between residents, institutions and other stakeholders.
  • Culture of Engagement - They effectively engage the residents most affected by particular problems create stronger and more relevant programs, policies, and efforts.
  • Shared Vision and Values - They create a shared vision and values from which aligned strategies emerge.