Soul of the Community study spurs resident-driven agenda for Arizona

Communities / Article

Photo Credit: Flickr user Chris M

Recently, the Center for the Future of Arizona announced the winners of a contest that sought five big ideas for bringing Arizonans together and taking action on issues they feel strongly about.

The effort centers on a resident-driven agenda for the state, one spurred by the Knight-funded Soul of the Community study. The research looked at why residents loved where they live – and how that relates to a community’s economic growth. 

Inspired by the Soul findings, the center designed a similar Gallup poll for Arizona that looked at residents’ views on community life and what they want for their state’s future. 

The poll captured a comprehensive picture of resident thinking and found a surprising amount of consensus among Arizonans on issues. Based on the poll’s findings, Dr. Lattie Coor, Chairman and CEO of the Center for the Future of Arizona, established The Arizona We Want Institute, in order to implement the people’s agenda for the state.

The winning projects from the Five Communities Project contest, which is based at the Center for the Future of Arizona, all focus on improving life in Arizona. In its inaugural year, the contest encouraged the community to propose ways to increase connections between residents and fund projects that address issues that people feel strongly about.

The contest winners, who represent communities statewide, were chosen by a national selection panel that included Paula Ellis, vice president/strategic initiatives at Knight Foundation, and several of the country’s other top thinkers on civic engagement.

The winning ideas focus specifically on job creation in the community, addressing environmental issues and increasing civic involvement. The projects will jointly apply with the Center for the Future of Arizona for $1.5 million in funding from national organizations to implement their proposals.