Civic Engagement

The Civic Engagement topic focuses on representation in government, community decisionmaking, and government responsiveness to resident needs.

Topic Score

Topic Score 61.13 Score is an average of this topic's indicator scores



The eight indicators in this topic quantify racial disparities in civic engagement, and suggest ways we can make progress toward equitable outcomes. The indicator reports that follow will allow the City of St. Louis and all stakeholders to evaluate policies from a fact-based, verifiable perspective. We’ll be able to learn from the data, see what’s working and what’s falling short, and use these insights to double down on good investments and experiment with new policies.

The Civic Engagement topic focuses on representation in government, community decision-making, and government responsiveness to resident needs.

Black residents are less likely than white residents to engage or to have opportunity to engage in civic life. There is lower voter turnout in majority-black wards than in majority-white wards despite having equal populations of voting-age adults. Also, black residents are less likely than white residents to live in neighborhoods with active neighborhood associations.  

Black residents are less likely than white residents to be able to participate in digital forms of democracy. The majority of black households in St. Louis lack access to high-speed internet at home. 

Black representation varies in leadership roles in government. While black residents have nearly equal representation as white residents in elected office, there are much larger racial disparities in leadership in city government overall at the department and division levels. 

Residents of majority-black neighborhoods report more problems with city infrastructure and services than residents of majority-white neighborhoods. Residents of majority-black neighborhoods are more likely than residents of majority-white neighborhoods to submit requests for service to Citizens’ Service Bureau. While residents receive equitable levels of service for many types of requests, residents of majority-white neighborhoods have better response times to their requests for repairing single street lights than residents of majority-black neighborhoods. 

Lastly, many St. Louis residents live in hyper-segregated neighborhoods, where more than 90% of residents are the same race. Government-enforced housing segregation policies, while no longer enforced, continue to divide St. Louis residents from each other and impact their access to public and private services.

For the Equity Indicators Project, the measures chosen focus on racial disparities. For this topic, the indicators are reflective of the Ferguson Commission’s calls to action around civic engagement, but not all related calls to action are addressed within the scope of this project. 


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What is our equity score for this topic?


The higher the score on a scale from 1 to 100, the closer we are toward achieving equity. 

Which Calls to Action from the Forward Through Ferguson report are reflected in this topic?

The Forward Through Ferguson report proposes several ways for residents to engage and influence institutions through the expansion of civilian oversight and protecting local control. In general, many of the calls to action ask institutions to be more responsive to the needs of residents. The indicators in this topic creatively interpret ways to measure civic engagement and institutional responsiveness. Other specific calls to action addressed in the Civic Engagement topic include:

  • Broadly Apply a Racial Equity Framework to existing and new regional policies, initiatives, programs and projects in order to address and eliminate existing disparities for racial and ethnic populations.
  • Build Safe Neighborhoods by supporting sustained, citizen-led efforts, particularly the efforts of parents and families impacted by violence, and clergy working to build community and keep watch.

What institutions and organizations were assessed?

The institutions assessed in this topic include the City of St. Louis.

Where did the data come from?

The data used in this topic comes from the American Community Survey, the Missouri Secretary of State, and the City of St. Louis. Within the City of St. Louis, data was received from the Neighborhood Stabilization Office, Personnel Department, and Citizens’ Service Bureau.

What stakeholders were consulted?

Stakeholders consulted include many City of St. Louis staff, including its Chief Technology Officer, Director of Operations, Personnel Department, and Traffic and Lighting Division. Other stakeholders asked to review data or analyses include St. Louis Association of Community Organizations (SLACO), Forward Through Ferguson, and Team TIF. 

What metrics are missing and why?

Metrics related to Civic Engagement could also include volunteerism, attendance at public meetings, and service on City boards and commissions. The Current Population Survey Volunteers Supplement, the only national survey of volunteerism rates, was collected annually but seems to have been discontinued. The City does not routinely collect demographic information on attendance at public meetings or those serving on Boards and Commissions.  

Civic Engagement Equity Indicators

Number Indicator Equity Score
1 CE1: Residential Segregation
28% of St. Louis residents live in highly racially segregated neighborhoods.
2 CE2: Internet Access
Black households are more than twice as likely as white households to lack access to high speed internet.
3 CE3: Voter Turnout
Residents in majority-white wards are 30% more likely to vote than residents in majority-black wards.
4 CE4: Neighborhood Associations
Black residents are more than twice as likely as white residents to not have a neighborhood association in their neighborhood.
5 CE5: Elected Officials Representation
White residents are 7% more likely than black residents to be represented in elected office. 
6 CE6: City Management Representation
White residents are nearly three times as likely as black residents to be represented in city leadership roles.
7 CE7: Calls for Service
There are 30% more requests for service per capita made in majority-black neighborhoods than in majority-white neighborhoods.
8 CE8: Service Delivery Response Time: Lights Out
Residents in majority-white neighborhoods receive faster response times to complaints about street light outages than residents in majority-black neighborhoods.
  2018 Equity Score 61.13


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