The values of citizen engagement were embodied into the mission of the Jacksonville Community Council Inc. (JCCI) when it was formed following the Jacksonville Community Planning Conference in June 1974. The conference, organized by the Chamber of Commerce president-elect Fred Schultz, brought together a diverse group of nearly 100 community leaders.
In addition to accomplishing its objective to identify the top ten priority issues to improve the quality of life in the community, the conference established the importance of and basis for expanded, continued engagement of citizens.
JCCI’s mission was “to bring people together to learn about our community, engage in problem solving and act to drive positive change.”
For the next 40 years, JCCI led 80 reports on issues affecting the quality of life for Jacksonville’s citizens, such as education, city finances and mental health. These studies had many direct impacts, including raising awareness around the city pension crisis and unprecedented collaboration of the Northeast Florida mental health provider community. These studies and implementations were led by volunteers and involved thousands of citizens.
In 1985, JCCI launched the world’s first community indicator project. The annual Quality of Life Indicators report has been a stable benchmark for the Jacksonville community to measure progress, both positive and negative, and helped to guide priorities.
In 2016, a reflective practice study was undertaken to better understand the community’s needs around civic engagement and the continued meaning and relevancy of JCCI.
The overarching finding is that the community needs can be met if the JCCI mission is served through multiple organizations versus one organization taking on the entire body of work. The framework used will continue a culture of inquiry, convening and implementation.
Consensus was reached to transform JCCI from a stand-alone organization leading the civic engagement process to a civic pact defined by community-wide expectations of how people work together on issues and act according to the values and actions formerly housed within JCCI.