|E-Democracy has been a consistent pioneer in online civic engagement work in local communities for nearly two decades. We began in 1994 by creating the world’s first election information website, powered by volunteers. These key milestones shaped our history:
- 1994 – Worldâ€™s first election information website. First online candidate debate. MN-Politics online forum launched creating longest lasting statewide online citizen-to-citizen discussion active to today.
- 1995 – Our statewide â€œonline town hallâ€ takes hold and E-Democracy becomes a trusted, neutral, nonprofit host of dialogue among people with differing views and backgrounds
- 1996-97 – E-Democracy invited to share lessons starting in Sweden, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, and more
- 1998-99 – The Minneapolis Issues Forum and St. Paul Issues Forum took the online town hall model local. More women, elected officials, and active citizens participate
- 2000 – Winona Community Forum launched; global Democracies Online Newswire promoting civic participation online grows to 1,000 members
- 2001-03 – E-Democracy receives Minneapolis Award from Mayor R.T. Rybak, the John F. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award, and is listed among the 25 Who Are Changing the World of Internet and Politics
- 2005 – British government funds pilot forums and â€œhow toâ€ guidebook for the UK; E-Democracy receives Honourable Mention for online communities in the Ars Prix Electronica Awards in Linz, Austria
- 2006 – E-Democracy receives Minneapolis Foundation MSNet Fund planning grant for inclusive Minneapolis neighborhood forums targeted to lower income, highly diverse, high immigrant areas; lead founder Steven Cliftâ€™s election to the Ashoka Fellow fellowship for â€œleading the way to healthier democracy by using the Internet for local discussion and citizen participationâ€ allows him to focus on the nonprofit full-time
- 2007 – Bristol and Oxford neighborhood forums launch; E-Democracy blog starts; MSNet funded Neighborhood Forums Project starts; Minnesota Rural Voices project launches with Blandin Foundation support; Forums launch in Minneapolis in Cedar Riverside, Roseville, Seward, and Standish Ericsson neighborhoods, and in Las Vegas, Nevada
- 2008 – New forums include Twin Cities: Minneapolis- Northeast, Powderhorn; St. Paul- Frogtown; Greater Minnesota- Bemidji, Cass Lake Leech Lake, Cook County, Grand Rapids, Minnesota Voices online community of practice; UK- Bristol: Brislington, Greater Bedminster; Oxford: Cowley, Headington and Marston, Central and Southwest
- 2009 – PACE, in collaboration with the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, features E-Democracy in the guide â€œFunding and Fostering Local Democracy: What Philanthropy Should Know About the Emerging Field of Deliberation and Democratic Governance;â€ new forums include St. Paul- Highland Park and the United States Issues Forum
- 2010-2011- E-Democracy receives a multi-year Ford Foundation grant to deepen inclusive – serving lower income, strongly immigrant/diverse neighborhoods – online forum engagement in the Cedar Riverside and Frogtown neighborhoods and to prepare for expansion; Digital Inclusion Network, Locals Online, and other online communities of practice launch
- 2012-2014 – Major Knight Foundation funding received to expand inclusive online community engagement to reach 10,000 forum members across St. Paul and to share lessons nationally. Minneapolis forums in Standish Ericsson and Powderhorn cross 1,000 members each and connect an estimated 25% of local households daily. E-Democracy in collaboration with Code for America, serves as the host for Open Twin Cities, an open government civic technology meetup and network.
- 2015 – 2016 – Worldâ€™s most comprehensive â€œneighbors onlineâ€ participant survey results released showing many reason why forum members love their forums. Â E-Democracy transitions to self-sufficiency doubling the number of individual donors to support forum hosting and support 100%. Contracts with the Kettering Foundation to lead experiments with their Common Ground for Action online deliberation platform and with UK-based mySociety to grow the global Poplus.org to over 80 nations in their online community. As a global convenor, E-Democracy brings their Open Government and Civic Technology Facebook Group to nearly 5,000 members from 120+ countries.
Currently, we have over 40 online forums with over 26,000 members across the globe focusing on inclusive online community/civic engagement. Of the 18,000+ forum memberships in the Twin Cities, over 80% of our participants engage at the neighborhood â€œcommunity life exchangeâ€ level where our funded programming is currently focused. As of today, our story has been told by co-founder and Executive Director Steven Clift, around the United States and in over 35 countries.