Cities are the future.

3 out of 4 people will live in urban environments by 2050.

American cities were built to meet the needs of an industrial age. They are designed, like machines, to reward economic efficiency and specialization. But that assembly-line ethos has also created silos of activity that artificially divide and dissect city life.

We believe cities are more than just machines. They are vibrant, diverse, and complex, like the people who live in them. Aspects of city life — from education to the environment to the justice system — are interconnected, as an ecosystem.

Our research has demonstrated how cities thrive when people are at the center, and growth and development are approached ecologically.

Our experience has proven that when city decision makers work together with neighbors the outcomes will be more effective, enduring, and equitable.

Civic Design

A multi-disciplinary approach

Civic Design is an approach that draws on a decade of sociological research, technology and community organizing. Thriving Cities Group integrates these disciplines into our three product offerings:

  • City Craft — teaching curriculum that enables institutional leaders to craft more effective civic responses to the needs and opportunities of 21st Century urban communities.

  • City Roundtable — a platform that enables community-based philanthropic investment to achieve more effective, equitable, and enduring social impact in cities.

  • City Voice — a four stage process that increases neighborhood leadership over decisions affecting their communities.

Civic Design equips all - from the most powerful decision-maker to neighbors whose voices go unheard - with the tools and skills to work for the common good in their communities.

Human Ecology Framework

Human Ecology Framework


Thriving Cities Group at work in Richmond, VA

"We are working to get the community together, to get the community involved so we can make it better together. That's what RVA Thrives is all about. That's what community's about."

Rodney Gaines, Community Advocate for RVA Thrives, a program of Thriving Cities Group