acting up

Every year, participants come out of On the Table excited and passionate about their conversations and armed with fresh ideas about how to collectively improve our communities. To help some of those ideas come to fruition, in 2016 the Trust, in partnership with Goodcity, created a new program called Acting Up and invited On the Table participants to submit short videos outlining ideas for positive community impact.

On the Table participants from across the city and suburbs submitted nearly 400 videos, outlining plans that focused on a wide range of issues – health care, gun violence, open spaces, arts and culture, and more. A diverse team of 30 judges spent a day at the Trust viewing and evaluating the video entries and selecting winners.

The Trust ultimately announced 64 winners who received $1,000 in prizes to help make their ideas a reality.

You can learn about the winners here or view their videos below.

Replication Efforts

In 2016, the Trust – with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation – hosted more than 60 individuals from 40 cities, 25 states and Canada representing community foundations, government and nonprofit organizations for the first On the Table Learning Symposium, in hopes of providing other communities with strategic insights and tools needed to replicate On the Table.

As part of the Symposium, attendees took part in On the Table conversations firsthand, learned how to adapt the model for their own regions and developed connections for continuing collaboration. The Trust will continue to share insights and strategic advice with this group over the coming months.

But, efforts to replicate On the Table were underway even before the May Symposium – read more about On the Table twists in Toronto, Canada and Lancaster County, Pennsylvania below.

1,000 Dinners

In October of 2014, just five months after Chicago’s inaugural event, the Toronto Foundation reached out to the Trust for advice on coordinating a similar event in their city in an effort to spark constructive conversation during their municipal elections.

More than



Engaged in more than



At the Table

On May 20 to 21, 2016, more than 2,000 people across Lancaster County, Pennsylvania participated in conversations at an estimated 250 tables.

Sixty percent of participants had never been asked to share their thoughts on the community prior to At the Table

Participants of At the Table identified three top themes that residents in the area care about: community engagement, inclusiveness and equity.

The Big Table

More than five thousand participants

In an effort to boost civic energy and engagement, more than 5,000 people participated in the Columbus Foundation’s take on On the Table on August 30, 2016 in central Ohio.