Join an action learning project and help to accelerate civic engagement in England

group of people listening in a circle, with one woman talking and gesturing

The NCCPE is delighted to be a partner in the National Civic Impact Accelerator (NCIA), an ambitious new initiative to generate intelligence on civic innovations and provide universities with the tools to deliver meaningful and impactful civic strategies and activities. The programme is led by Sheffield Hallam University and funded by Research England, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and will run until 2025.

The NCIA’s activities will be delivered through three key workstreams:

  1. Evidence Capture: Building a living civic evidence base to understand what worksfor whom and in what contexts.
  2. Learning & Innovating: A dynamic action learning programme to pilot civic approaches and build capacity.
  3. Scaling Up: A sector engagement programme of support, tools, training, and communication to maximise reach

The NCCPE is leading workstream 2 and will be coordinating an action learning process to explore issues and opportunities relating to the role of civic engagement in different types of places and types of institutions around England.

The Action Learning process: What does it involve?

Up to 12 universities, and their civic and community partners, will be involved. Individual members of staff and partner organisations will be able to participate in up to 8 action learning groups of 6- 10 people, working alongside colleagues from around the country working on similar challenges. These groups will meet online every two months and have the opportunity to share and reflect on common challenges and explore approaches to addressing them.

We have just launched an ‘expression of interest’, inviting HEIs or groups of HEIs working in partnership on their civic agendas to join us on this adventure. We would like to encourage HEIs to be clear about how their partners will be involved throughout the action learning process, and where possible to work with these partners in framing the application. Given we are seeking universities at different stages of their civic engagement work, we recognise that for those early in their development this might not be possible at this stage.  

The group meetings will be focused on action: participants will take their learning into their own contexts, try actions that they have committed to, and come back and reflect with the group on what happened, who benefited and how, and what factors enabled or hindered progress. As the project progresses, the NCIA team will work hard to ensure that this learning is made accessible to the wider sector to mobilise wider action, through developing tools and resources that others can draw on.

Each action learning group will have access to the specialist researchers involved in NCIA Workstream 1, who will be able to respond to requests for research and evidence pertinent to the challenges they are working on. The action learning groups will also help to shape the development of a civic evidence hub, which will build evidence of ‘what works’ in civic engagement.

In addition, a small amount of innovation funding will be made available to the action learning groups to implement pilot actions (a total pot of £120K will be available for groups to bid for over the course of the project). Bursaries are available to facilitate the involvement of partner organisations.

You can find out more about the project and the expression of interest process in this overview document.

The timeline and what happens next

The deadline for submitting your expression of interest is Tuesday 30th May.

The EOIs will be reviewed by a panel drawn from the NCIA partners.

We aim to have made a preliminary selection of participating HEIs by Wednesday 7th June, at which point we will be in touch with requests for more information and clarifications.

We aim to make the final announcement by Tuesday 20th June.

The first full cohort meeting is planned to happen in the week beginning 10th July.

Find out more

We have created an online Padlet board to allow you to post questions about the project and process outlined above. We will regularly update this to ensure all applicants can access our answers and clarifications.

Access the NCIA Action Learning Padlet board

NCCPE Co-Director Paul Manners also discussed the NCCPE's role in the National Civic Impact Accelerator with the Civic University Network, for their latest 'CIVICAST' podcast. Listen to the podcast to find out more about our action learning opportunity and how to get involved.

Submit your expression of interest

You can submit your expression of interest using the online form.

It isn’t possible to save ‘work in progress’, so you may want to complete your answers ‘offline’ using a Word document, before copying and pasting your answers into the online form.

Submit your expression of interest