By Joy Cherian, PhD., Founder and President, AACR

Occasionally, people ask why I formed the Association of Americans for Civic Responsibility (AACR). After working for several decades in Washington, D.C., I felt there was a vacuum that existed among civic-oriented organizations in the area. Even though there were a number of public and private groups including corporations and non-profit organizations engaged in civic-oriented activities, none of them had an educational program to bring all of those groups together to share and learn about civic engagement programs. My vision for AACR was to fill this gap by creating a means of information exchange for local and national institutions to share their experiences. At present, we look at ourselves as a "virtual meeting place" to share ideas and energize diverse communities in service of civic responsibility. I strongly believe that such exchanges can guide and inspire civic groups to find ways to create and manage their civic engagement programs more efficiently and more effectively.

In addition to providing a new forum on civic engagement, AACR offers a unique approach in three other areas.

First, AACR advocates the concept of institutional civic responsibility (ICR)1 for the benefit of our entire society by encouraging all U.S.-based institutions to perform their civic duties. These institutions include, but are not limited to, corporations, business organizations and associations, ethnic and cultural groups, educational institutions, firms, clubs, professional and trade groups, foundations, religious and non-religious charities, and local and national government agencies, from the smallest to the largest.

Second, AACR encourages every institution to follow, and promote with their actions, the concept of "civic responsibility" that embodies the "must do" commitment of a natural or institutional citizen. We feel that the concept of "social responsibility" can be considered as something "nice to do" or "good to do," while, the notion of civic responsibility is much broader and encompasses the term "social responsibility." 2

Third, while there are certainly powerful benefits for those who engage in civic responsibility, AACR advances a philosophy of "giving back" to society by an individual or institution without expecting anything in return. These generous contributions and voluntary efforts may be thankless, but they are certainly noble in the area of performances of civic engagement.3 In other words, AACR strongly believes in the age-old idea of being and doing good with no ulterior goal or motive other than a sincere desire to do good for the members of the commonweal (general public).

To effectively fulfill its mission, AACR convenes roundtable conferences; fosters ongoing partnership, collaboration and networking; and develops white papers on civic responsibility issues.

Additionally, AACR is in the process of developing the following projects:

  • Regional and national conferences on U.S. Immigrant Community Organizations and their best practices related to Civic Responsibility;
  • Regional and national conferences on Corporate Civic Responsibility (CCR) through Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs); and
  • Publication of an online index and case studies relating to civic responsibility programs.

One of AACR's short-term goals is to find a national institution that would be interested in cooperation on civic-oriented projects or that would be willing to provide funding for AACR projects, particularly our database and Web site, which are essential to promoting information and exchange on ICR programs. 4 AACR believes that it will partner with generous individuals, corporations or foundations soon to have financial support in implementing its planned projects in 2007 and beyond.

AACR encourages all individuals including leaders of civic organizations and business groups to learn more about AACR by visiting our Web site at www.aacri.org. More specifically, the section "About Us" explains in more detail AACR's plans for involvement in activities of local, national and global reach for the benefit of the general public.

  1. AACR, Position Papers, "The Concept of Institutional Civic Responsibility (ICR)," www.aacri.org
  2. AACR, Position Papers "Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) vs. Corporate Civic Responsibility (CCR)," www.aacri.org
  3. AACR, Position Papers "Giving Back vs. Gaining Back: An Overview," www.aacri.org
  4. Individual philanthropists, corporate executives, and foundation officers who are interested in receiving details of these projects can contact AACR by e-mail at aacri@aacri.org.