Creative New Jersey is dedicated to fostering creativity, collaboration, and inclusion by empowering cross-sector partnerships in commerce, education, philanthropy, government, and culture, in order to ensure dynamic communities and a thriving economy.

Learn more about what makes a Creative Community, how we work with you in our engagement process, and how to get started. Click on the corresponding heading to reveal what you need to know.

What is a Creative Community?

Our Creative Communities are single municipalities, counties or multiple-county regions who participate in our community engagement process because they believe there is an urgent need to find creative and innovative solutions to seemingly intractable problems.

It’s about you.

We bring communities together on issues that are most important to them. Our “high-touch” approach to engagement enables us to work directly with citizens, business and nonprofit leaders, and government representatives, among others, to build trust, foster collaboration, ensure inclusion, and create a shared, multi-faceted vision for the community.

The ultimate goal of our engagement process is to create and help sustain change. Our work implements human-centered design that puts the communities we work with at the center of everything we do.

Click here to read testimonials from communities who have held their own Call to Collaboration.

Our Process

Creative New Jersey's formula for thriving communitiesOur core engagement programming consists of building Creative Community Host Teams that represent each community in microcosm. Once this team is in place, we work with them to build/launch a community-wide, multi-day, inclusive meeting called a “Call to Collaboration,” which we facilitate using an Open Space Technology meeting format – a powerful, self-organizing approach that engages a highly-diverse group of people in open and authentic conversations on issues of greatest importance to them. This way of meeting puts people at the center of the agenda creation and leading conversations, which opens the door to breakthrough ideas because of its ability to invite imagination, leadership, and commitment.

Inclusion is the Key

Diversity on the Host Team and at the Call to Collaboration is essential – diversity of sectors and industries, ethnic, cultural, socio-economic and multi-generational diversity. We bring the grass-tops together with the grass-roots. The best solutions to big problems are ignited when we listen to ideas, opinions and experiences different from our own: We discover the diverse perspectives needed to fuel human ingenuity.

Inclusion - CNJ Core ValueTimeline

Because our engagement process is community-led and driven by the participating Host Team members we do not dictate a predetermined timeline, but on average it ranges from 5-10 months, depending on the level of readiness in each community.

Explore the application process below in “Become a Creative Community.”

After the Call to Collaboration

We work with our communities to provide on-going support in areas such as:

Knowledge Sharing

  • Publishing the notes and next steps identified by participants at the Call to Collaboration to spur follow-up and follow-through;
  • Connecting the participants through a Creative Community Facebook Group that acts as an information and resource hub;
  • Promoting the ideas and actions that people are moving forward through social media and blogs;

Collaboration - CNJ Core ValueStrengthening Networks

  • Connecting individuals and groups to relevant information and opportunities, similar projects, and statewide partners to expand networks and collaborations, and share best practices;
  • Providing the opportunity for our Creative Communities to learn from each other during our annual Statewide Convening.

Building leaders

  • Providing training and coaching to community leaders who want continue bringing their community together; and
  • Providing a platform for youth to become leaders in their communities through the connections & contributions they make at the Call to Collaboration.
Our Promise
lighbulb iconIdeas will be accelerated and new projects will begin;


community network iconCommunity networks will be strengthened and formed;


handshake iconTrust will be built; and


service iconWe are in service to you.
Become a Creative Community

Are You Ready to Become a Creative Community?

Creativity - CNJ Core ValueIf you’re interested and excited about the possibility of your town or city joining Creative New Jersey’s statewide movement, please follow these simple steps to apply to work with us.

1. Determine Your Level of Readiness: ask yourself the sample questions below which will help you determine your level of readiness.

2. Once you can answer these questions to your satisfaction, you’re ready for the next step of officially applying. To request an application, please email us at info@creativenj.org.

3. Our team reviews all applications within 30 days of the submission date.

4. Once we have reviewed your application, one of our team members will contact you to discuss next steps.

Here are a few questions to gauge your level of readiness. These are the kinds of questions you’ll need to answer if you decide to submit an application to become a Creative Community:

1. Why now? How do you know if the time is right? Is there:

  • A lot at stake in your community?
  • A high level of complexity to the issues facing your community?
  • A lot of diversity – people and points of view – who are interested in tackling these issues?
  • Genuine urgency (decision time of yesterday) around issues facing your community?
  • Real passion and yes, even potential conflict or conflicting viewpoints?

2. Have you spoken with other cross-sector colleagues/neighbors about bringing your community together to tackle challenges?

3. What is the change you hope to see in your community?

4. Do you have the time to devote to launching a community-wide engagement program? From start to finish, our process takes between 5-10 months.

5. When are you ready to start? Is there a hard deadline you need to meet for completing this project?

6. Do you have access to resources to support convening your community (food costs, meeting supplies, venue rental) and for contracting with Creative New Jersey?

7. Do you value creativity, cross-sector collaboration, inclusion, and diversity on every level (racial, ethnic, cultural, generational, geographic, and socioeconomic)?

Who can contract with Creative New Jersey?

  • An individual or group of individuals
  • A nonprofit, for-profit or government agency
  • A municipality

Once you’ve answered these questions to your satisfaction, you’re ready for the next step of officially applying. To request an application, please email us at info@creativenj.org.

Thank you for your interest in Creative New Jersey and we look forward to learning more about your community!