Pawtucket Engages Citizens to Help Improve City and School Communication Systems

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Pawtucket city and school department officials met with groups of parents, students, businesses, religious leaders, seniors, community groups and nonprofits to get their feedback on ways in which the school department and city communicate and engage them and gather ideas to improve those systems.  

The groups were invited to ensure diversity of age, ethnicity and focus. Each facilitated group was asked to share what they thought was working and what could be improved as it related to crisis communications, public works communications, and general communications. 

The participants were actively engaged throughout the ninety minutes and provided the City with many suggestions that they will be able to use as they begin their analysis and begin to actively make improvements. Participants expressed appreciation for the opportunity to share their opinions and hear the perspective of other participants.

“This focus group helped us, as city leaders, better understand how our citizens, are receiving their information from the city and the various city departments,” said Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien. “It’s important for the overall growth of the City of Pawtucket to build a feedback loop for continuous improvement. The Leader Matters program is helping municipal leaders across the state develop innovative solutions and strengthen the leadership skills of their staff.”   

The focus group session was the result of Pawtucket municipal leaders taking part in an innovative leadership skills training program called ‘Leadership Matters RI’. The program was developed by The Public Sector Consortium, a national nonprofit dedicated to the ‘reinvention of public leadership for the public good in partnership with the Pell Center at Salve Regina University. The improvement of communication systems and civic engagement in Pawtucket is the innovations portion of this year’s program. 

“The focus group session will build stronger partnerships between citizens and the public leaders to ensure higher levels of engagement participation and satisfaction,” said Georgie Bishop, President of the Public Sector Consortium. “The session design and execution was a model for civic engagement sessions across the state.”

The City of Pawtucket has made it a leadership priority to improve the one-city approach, and began with the alignment of the human resources, information technology, and financial systems between the school department and the city.

“The PSC is a valued partner with the city. This organization has helped facilitate and foster a renewed sense of focus on the importance of building relationships through consensus,” said Mayor Grebien. “We have all began a transition to better understand who our customer is and which is the best tool to use to outreach and communicate with them.” 

The information gathered during the focus group meeting will be analyzed and used to develop improved systems of communication that meet the majority of citizen needs.

To date, the Public Sector Consortium has worked on similar initiatives with numerous towns in Rhode Island including Pawtucket, Bristol, Portsmouth, Middletown, Cumberland, Central Falls and Newport. As a result of the Leadership Matters RI program, municipal departments and school officials are seeing great improvements in process efficiencies, and ultimately improving services to their constituents and the community at large.

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