Ferndale & Others Get “On Board” with Suburbs Alliance Program

Ferndale & Others Get “On Board” with Suburbs Alliance ProgramBTLWeddingExpo_144x360

(Emily Thompson, Michigan Suburbs Alliance, orig. michigansuburbsalliance.com, Feb. 5, 2014)

Today, after months of hard work, we launch On Board (OnBoardMI.org). What’s On Board? For local officials, it’s a secure database they can use to more easily manage information about local boards and commissions. For residents like you and me, it’s a website we can use to find information about these bodies and get involved.

Why get involved? Local governments rely on appointed boards and commissions for advice, ideas and assistance in achieving public goals. Unfortunately many residents are unaware of these bodies or don’t understand how to engage with them. As a result, local governments receive a limited number of applications and certain groups are underrepresented. Young people, for example, account for 29.0% of registered voters in metro Detroit, but only 6.0% of board and commission members.

The idea for On Board was developed by representatives from 23 metro Detroit communities that Jim Shaffer ad EDITEDparticipate in our Millennial Mayors Congress. The Congress wanted to see local governments do more to engage young people, so they created a set of best practices designed to help communities provide more comprehensive information on their own websites. On Board was envisioned as both a tool to support the implementation of these best practices as well as a one-stop-shop for information.

We pitched the idea to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and received a grant to build a prototype version of On Board, in order to gauge the feasibility of and interest in the project. To ensure the site meets the needs of local governments, we sought local government partners. We are so grateful to Ferndale, Ypsilanti and Washtenaw County who signed on to participate and help guide On Board’s development. We also owe a big shout-out to our amazing Hamtramck-based developer: The Work Department.

The prototype version of On Board launched today, and Ferndale, Ypsilanti and Washtenaw County are sidebar01sponsoralready taking advantage of it, centralizing information like board descriptions, memberships, meeting times and term expirations. Now it’s your turn. Visit OnBoardMI.org, take a look and weigh in on our Feedback page. Have we accomplished our goals? What should we consider as we push to expand On Board’s functionality and *hopefully* open the site to communities across the region and the state?

Interested in learning more about or participating in On Board? Contact Emily Thompson at the Michigan Suburbs Alliance at (313) 444-4830 or emily@suburbsalliance.org.

About Emily Thompson

Emily-Thompson_avatar-96x96Emily coordinates our Millennial Mayors Congress, which brings together young people and seasoned policymakers to advance the interests of Millennials in the metro Detroit region. She also runs our internship programs and has her finger on the pulse of youth engagement and talent retention efforts in Michigan.

At the Suburbs Alliance we foster and support cooperative approaches to the challenges facing Michigan’s metropolitan areas. We believe our communities’ interdependence is our greatest strength and that collaboration is the best path to increased prosperity, sustainability and equity across a region. Through innovative initiatives we organize, serve and advocate for a metro’s mature cities in order to help them be vibrant, healthy and beautiful communities – preferred places to live, work and play.

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