Dallas Is Named a 2023 ‘All-American City’ by the National Civic League

The city of Dallas was one of 10 U.S. cities to win the honor, marking its first win since 1970. The city was recognized for its efforts to engage youth in meaningful ways via the Dallas Youth Commission, the Welcoming Strategic Plan, and the Dallas Cultural Plan.

For the first time in over 50 years, Dallas has been named an “All-American City” by the National Civic League, a nonpartisan nonprofit founded in 1894 by civic leaders including Theodore Roosevelt.

The All-America City Award recognizes communities that leverage civic engagement, collaboration, inclusiveness, and innovation to successfully address local issues. Dallas was one of 10 cities to receive the honor at the 74th annual award ceremony Sunday in Denver, Colorado. The other nine winning cities were Charlotte, N.C., Davie County, N.C., Decatur, GA., Fayetteville, N.C., Gonzales, CA, Hampton, VA, Mesa, AZ; Mount Pleasant, S.C.; and San Antonio, TX.

To help elevate Dallas from its position as one of 19 finalists, a delegation traveled to Denver to pitch the city’s civic endeavors, featuring representatives from the city of Dallas, the Dallas Youth Commission, Big Thought, Junior Players, The Concilio, artists, and local parents.

Youth led the way to Dallas’ win

The Dallas pitch team traveled to Denver for a Saturday presentation and the Sunday ceremony.

“We’re happy to designate Dallas as an All-America City,” National Civic League president Doug Linkhart said in a statement. “Through their application and presentation, they showed that they are among the best in America at engaging youth and other residents to address important challenges.”

This year, the city of Dallas stood out for its exceptional efforts to engage youth in meaningful ways through the Dallas Youth Commission, the Welcoming Strategic Plan, and the Dallas Cultural Plan.

“We’re elated to be named an All-America City by the National Civic League, especially this year because our youth are leading the way,” Assistant City Manager Liz Cedillo-Pereira said in a statement. “Youth leaders and our amazing community partners helped us tell the story of how Big D is seeking to center youth leadership.”

‘Fostering a thriving community for all’

By involving youth in key initiatives and providing platforms for their voices to be heard, the city said it’s cultivating an inclusive environment where youth are contributing to the betterment of Dallas.

“Winning the All-America City Award is a testament to the incredible dedication and collaboration of our community, especially our youth,” added City Manager T.C. Broadnax. “Dallas is a city that believes in our young people, and we’re committed to empowering them to become active participants in shaping our city’s future. This recognition is a testament to the great strides we’re making in fostering a thriving community for all.”

A second win for Dallas—but other North Texas cities have been honored too

This is the first time Dallas has won the All-American City honor since 1970, its only other win. Fort Worth has received the honor three times—in 1964, 1993, and 2011. 

Other North Texas cities to receive the honor one time each include DeSoto (2006), Grand Prairie (1975), Lancaster (2019), Plano (1994), Sherman (1980), and Wichita Falls (1981).

The most wins for any Texas city? San Antonio, which has been honored an amazing nine times, from 1949 to as recently as last Sunday.

More on what helped Dallas win the award

Byron Sanders and Liz Cedillo-Pereira [Photo via Byron Sanders]

Here are more details on three initiatives that helped Dallas win its All-American City honor:

:: Dallas Youth Commission strategic plan, which provides city council-appointed young individuals with a platform to engage with local government officials, community leaders, and policymakers.

:: Welcoming Dallas Strategic Plan, which celebrates contributions of immigrants, promoting equitable access to government services, building trust with law enforcement, and increasing access to ESL and legal services.

:: Dallas Cultural Plan, which improved access to arts and culture by engaging residents and stakeholders in a robust cultural planning and arts engagement.

Byron Sanders, founder and CEO of Big Thought——a Dallas nonprofit that offers hands-on experiential learning for youth in marginalized communities—was part of the delegation that traveled to Denver. (On Saturday he posted a message on LinkedIn saying “Put us in the game coach!”)

“This honor for the city of Dallas is a shining affirmation of the work that has been done and a clear message to whom we should look to as our most powerful assets in what’s ahead—our young people,” Sanders said in a statement. “The best cities make space for the youths’ ideas, energy, and imagination.”

“When we elevate youth as equal partners, we get real solutions that can make us the city that our highest ideals call us toward,” Sanders added.

Dallas Youth Commission Chair Ricardo Corpus, a 2023 DISD graduate who’s attending Texas Christian University in the fall, said the award “truly goes to show that the hard work we are doing every day in Dallas does not go unnoticed.”

David Seeley contributed to this report.

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