Training & Information

​​​​Charlotte Civic Leadership Academy

The City of Charlotte's Civic Leadership Academy (CLA) is a free 13-course program designed for Charlotte residents who are ready to take the next step in being community leaders and improving the quality of life in all of Charlotte's neighborhoods. The CLA provides an overview of city government and provides participants the opportunity to grow in their leadership, analyze issues using data, connect with decision makers and other Charlotte leaders, and make a difference in their communities. 

The program is offered twice a year and participation is determined through a competitive application process. (See Frequently Asked Questions regarding participant selection and strong applications.)

Applications for the Spring 2023 cohort will close January 26, 2023 at 11:59 pm.

what I like that it was a good
experience the group of people are very
diverse it was fun it was very
educational and I'm taking away a lot of
knowledge then I'm going to share with
everyone I meet about the City of
I think it was a fantastic class it
really gives you a chance to look at
Charlotte from where it's been how it
got to where it is now where we're going
as a community the Academy prepared me
to be a better leader in Charlotte by
giving me more information than I had
about the City of Charlotte it
introduced me to various departments
that I was not aware of that were
available to me and it exposed me to a
lot of other opportunities that I can
use for my community to make it a better
fit for you and just the exposure it
gave me as somebody new to a leadership
role in our area and really allowed me
to make connections and network with
those folks to further elationship after
the class and only strengthened our
neighborhood strength in our community
and open up those lines of communication

Benefits of Participation

  • Receive a personalized leadership assessment and leadership development training
  • Enhance your understanding of Charlotte history, demographics and decision making
  • Develop relationships with other community leaders and leaders in local government
  • Learn how to use data to articulate challenges and advocate for resources for your community
  • Get a behind the scenes look at how the City of Charlotte works and develop specialized knowledge about the departments and programs of the City of Charlotte

​Leaders with vision and clarity of purpose will push our community forward.  Our leadership development program will equip you with self and social awareness, emotional intelligence and the ability to collaborate and exercise influence to be a better advocate for your family, neighborhood and our greater Charlotte Community. 

With Charlotte and Mecklenburg County’s ranking of last in social mobility, our community needs a renewed focus on how we all can play a part in creating an equitable community and how we can expand opportunities for all residents living in our community.  The CLA will give you tools to understand our collective history and work to achieve more positive outcomes for all in the future.

The City’s government structure can feel complicated and you may not know how to access decision making.  The CLA will take you behind the scenes of each department and give you access to government leaders who are making decisions every day that impact residents’ lives.  In our interactive workshops, you will also have the ability to build relationships with city staff and elected officials. 


  • Resident of the city of Charlotte
  • Commitment to continued community leadership
  • Ability to attend at least 10 out of 13 sessions

Academy Workshops Cover:

  • Introduction to the City of Charlotte
  • Charlotte History, Implicit Bias, and Quality of Life Data
  • Leadership Development
  • Charlotte Government 101
  • Community Safety
  • Environment
  • Economic Development
  • Transportation and Planning
  • Housing & Neighborhood Development
  • City Budget and Decision-Making
  • Capital Improvement Projects
  • How to join Boards and Commissions

Spring 2023 Schedule

Tuesday, March 14  (6:00 PM – 9:00 PM)
Saturday, March 18  (10:00 AM – 1:00 PM)
Wednesday, March 22  (6:00 PM – 8:00 PM)
Tuesday, March 28  (6:00 PM – 8:00 PM) *
Saturday, April 1  (10:00 AM – 3:00 PM)
Tuesday, April 4  (6:00 PM – 8:00 PM) *
Wednesday, April 12  (6:00 PM – 8:00 PM)
Saturday, April 15  (10:00 AM – 2:00 PM)
Tuesday, April 18  (6:00 PM – 8:30 PM) *
Thursday, April 20  (6:00 PM – 9:00 PM) *
Wednesday, April 26  (6:00 PM – 9:00 PM)
Tuesday, May 2  (6:00 PM – 8:00 PM)
Thursday, May 4  (6:00 PM – 8:30 PM) 

*Denotes virtual sessions 

Civic Leadership Academy Online

We're excited to announce that more CLA videos are coming soon! Keep an eye out for new content that will be packed with valuable information and insights about the City of Charlotte and our partners. Whether you're looking to learn something new or just need a refresher, our CLA Online videos will have something for all residents. We're working hard to create a diverse range of videos on topics covered in the Civic Leadership Academy. So make sure to subscribe to our channel and stay tuned for the latest updates!

 CLA Online

City of Charlotte Mecklenburg County
Economic Development Department 
Aviation Department
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department 
Charlotte Fire Department
Charlotte Department of Transportation 
Charlotte Area Transit System
Strategy & Budget 
City Clerk's Office

Civic Leadership Academy Graphic 

 Frequently Asked Questions

The CLA is a 13 session crash course in City of Charlotte Government and civic leadership.  Participants will be provided the opportunity to grow in their leadership style, learn to analyze issues using data, connect with decision makers and other Charlotte leaders, and gain useful tools to make a difference in their communities. 

​Participation is open to residents of Charlotte, NC.  At this time, we are not accepting applications from anyone living outside of the city’s geographical boundaries. 

​We encourage anyone who would like to exercise positive community leadership to apply to the CLA.  This can include young people (16 and older), established neighborhood leaders, home owners, renters, residents with no leadership experience, business owners, non-profit workers, new arrivals, native Charlotteans, and everyone in between.  If you care about Charlotte and want to work with the City to improve quality of life, we want you to apply. 

​The CLA was created to equip residents with the tools and information necessary to be strong, community focused civic leaders.  The CLA is focused on making City government more accessible and transparent, and engaging residents as partners in grappling with the challenges we face as a community.

The program was created with input from grassroots community leaders and City staff to reflect the needs and concerns of the community.  Because we are deeply committed to being responsive in providing information and tools that the community needs, each CLA program will vary slightly to accommodate the feedback from previous sessions and to reflect changing issues and concerns in our community. 

​Up to 42 applicants will be selected, six from each City Council district area.  Selection is based on the application content, with a focus on selecting applicants who reflect the rich diversity of our community and who demonstrate a willingness to engage as leaders in Charlotte.  Selection is competitive, with over 200 applicants in most cycles.  Therefore, applicants are encouraged to be as thoughtful, innovative, and engaging as possible in their applications.

​Extra information, such as a resume, is not necessary to include with the application and will not be considered in the application process. 

​The program is free.  Meals and materials are included. Because the CLA represents a significant investment in each participant, we ask that potential participants not miss sessions and think carefully about the time commitment before applying. 

​The ideal CLA applicant applies because they have a love for Charlotte and wants to be a part of problem solving in order to move our community forward.  Past participants in the CLA have been residents who wanted to become community and/or neighborhood leaders, existing leaders who wanted to sharpen their skills, non-profit workers who wanted to better educate their constituents on how to work with government, and residents who want to have an understanding of what the City does.  Many CLA applicants have an interest in applying for boards and commissions as well as public service. 

Participants of the CLA will: 

  • Receive a personalized DISC Leadership Assessment 
  • Learn how to efficiently utilize their leadership style to positively impact their community
  • Enhance their understanding of Charlotte history and decision making
  • Develop relationships with other community leaders and leaders in local government
  • Learn how to use data to articulate challenges and advocate for resources for their communities
  • Get a behind the scenes look at how the City of Charlotte works and develop specialized knowledge about the departments and programs of the City of Charlotte
  • Commit to using their leadership skills in the broader community to improve the quality of life for all Charlotteans.

Program graduates are strongly encouraged to apply to serve on City/County boards and commissions, and a designation for CLA graduates is included on the official boards and commissions applications.  CLA graduates will also receive a certificate of completion from Housing & Neighborhood Services and an exclusive CLA lapel pin.

If this sounds good to you, you should apply.

Sessions are held on weeknights and Saturdays, with a mix of in-person and virtual formats. Most in-person sessions will be held at City-owned facilities. Selected applicants will receive an official agenda with details on each session and location with their acceptance packet.  

​The CLA covers the operations of the City of Charlotte, how to engage in purposeful leadership, how to use data, and the history of Charlotte.  Participants will walk away with a high level understanding of the City of Charlotte, specialized knowledge about the City's departments, and a better understanding of leadership concepts like emotional intelligence, equity, and collaboration and influence. 

This program may touch on the work of Mecklenburg County, the State of North Carolina and/or the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools system, but is primarily focused on the workings of the City of Charlotte.

​The CLA holds two series a year- in March/April and September/October/November.

​Participants may miss up to three sessions out of 13 (not including graduation).  Each session is packed full of vital information and participants are highly encouraged not to miss any.

We encourage applicants to attend other training opportunities offered by the City of Charlotte. For more information, navigate to our Neighborhood Training and Resources webpage​.

​Graduates of the CLA can indicate their status on applications for boards and commissions.  The City of Charlotte will formally convene CLA graduates in voluntary, bi-annual meetings to give updates about programs and projects of the City and help the City problem solve, where applicable.  Graduates will also be included on the Neighborhood Organization Contact list.  How graduates engage in individual community leadership is up to them, though community involvement and exercising leadership is a condition of participating in the program. 

​Applicants are encouraged to be as thoughtful, innovative, and engaging as possible in their applications. Applications are reviewed by a Selection Committee; they are scored based on the following categories: Application Completeness, Engagement, Perspective & Innovation, Community Concern and Demonstrated Potential for Leadership.

While we can't guarantee selection, we offer the following tips for your consideration:

  • Take your time – don't rush through the application.
  • Read full program details in advance – purpose, benefits, content, why participate, etc.
  • Review the entire application before you begin.
  • Follow the instructions; answer questions completely.
  • Think through each question, giving thoughtful consideration, and provide your sincere, distinct response.
  • Before you submit, check to ensure your responses are clear and convey the meaning you intend.