Communities across our nation are experimenting with new ways to engage citizens in the decisions made by civic leaders from the public, private and non-pro!t sectors, working sometimes together and sometimes at cross purposes. Ultimately, success at making democracy work and sustaining healthy communities requires engaged individuals, organizations, and institutions. Across our country, community engagement bright spots are emerging. These initiatives foster a sense of attachment, expand access to information and resources, and create opportunities for citizens to play more active roles in setting priorities, addressing issues, and planning the longer-term sustainability of their communities. The National League of Cities, working with The John S. and James L Knight Foundation, selected 14 communities that the two institutions are engaged with to explore how well or poorly some of these experiments are faring today. This analysis then focused more closely on four communities -- Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Austin -- to document the lessons learned and the challenges ahead.