The Equitable Community Engagement Toolkit
City of Philadelphia

Project XQ was an interactive traveling exhibition that launched on the steps of the New York Public Library in 2015. The exhibit toured the United States and served as a national community engagement tool and contest. By September 2016, Project XQ had engaged more than 22,153 community members, parents, entrepreneurs, and administrators who shared ideas to improve America’s failing high schools. This project led to a $100 million dollar investment in 10 school proposals.
Project Manager and Co-Lead
Lead Service Design Strategist

PHL Service Design Studio

Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Services
Office of Innovation Technology

2020 - Present

Project XQ’s interactive traveling exhibit on the steps of the New York Public Library (NYPL) in 2015.


Engagement is the foundational way government opens its doors to connect communities to programs and services, better understand community need, share decision-making, and work in solidarity with what’s already occurring in neighborhoods. However, many communities won’t and can’t interact with the City of Philadelphia (i.e., the City) because we’ve either broken their trust or haven’t created the conditions for their engagement. 

When community members don’t have a way to shape government policies, programs, and services that impact them, their needs often go unmet. The Equitable Community Engagement Toolkit (i.e., the Toolkit) intends to create the conditions, so equitable forms of engagement can occur between the City and the communities we serve.

While communities aren’t monolithic, our early research indicated that there are four communities that are often not engaged by the City.

These communities included:

  • People living with disabilities.
  • People with no to limited English proficiency.
  • People without digital access or have low digital literacy.
  • People of color who’ve been impacted by systemic racism.