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  • Town of Aberdeen, NC: Aberdeen Citizens Academy Program (CAP)
  • Population: 6,350
  • Years Offered: 6 (2005-present)
  • Signature Innovation: Intimate class size and continued Town investment further goals to increase citizen engagement

Despite its small population, the Town of Aberdeen in Moore County, NC, has invested considerable time into making its Citizens Academy Program (CAP) a success. The intimate class size, usually about 12-15 residents, cultivates trust between citizens and staff and helps form new friendships among neighbors.

The CAP runs once per year, from September until October, for seven weeks with two hour sessions. Participants are selected by the first-come, first-served method, while the budget is maintained at $800, covering light meals for each session.

Aberdeen is explicit that the CAP “will help teach and cultivate new community leaders.” Indeed, several appointed board and commission members are CAP alumni. Aberdeen’s CAP clear focus on helping citizens develop a “‘toolbox’ of information” promotes its goal that more enlightened citizens will lead to increased engagement throughout Town activities.