St. Helena Community Academy

community academy logoWe are so proud to have graduated our first 2023 Street Helena Community Academy class! We held our first session from September 6, 2023, to October 25, 2023, with a full class and it was a fantastic experience.


2024 Academy Class will be held April 24, 2024 to June 5, 2024. This program will be held on Wednesday evenings from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for 8 weeks.

If you are interested in participating in this session, please complete this brief online application form. Spaces are limited and final applicants will be notified in mid-March if they have been accepted. 

Any questions about the program can be directed to Assistant to the City Manager, Lesley Milton

This Program Is for You If:

  • If you have ever wanted to get an inside look at the operations of the City of St. Helena
  • If you have considered running for elected office, but don't know where to start
  • If you are interested in where your tax dollars go

About the Program

This no-cost academy is an 8-week program designed to provide those who live or work in St. Helena with a better understanding of the operations of the City Government, our regional industries, and our community organizations. This program includes informational sessions on City departments, emergency management, City Council and City Manager forms of government and elections, public safety, industry and community partners, and the permitting and development processes, it will feature walking tours throughout the City. It's a behind-the-scenes tour for City residents, business owners, and workers with the intent to foster better community collaboration.

Community Academy Goals

  • Learn how decisions are made, how City funds are allocated, and how departments operate
  • Motivate the community to proactively help design policy, prevent crime, and protect the environment
  • Hear about the status of current issues, proposed projects, and potential future development
  • Prepare members to participate in the public process, including effective advocacy, volunteer participation, or future election considerations
  • Develop collaborative partnerships between the community, businesses, and the City

Class Structure

This program will be held on Wednesday evenings from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for 8 weeks. There will be a combination of lectures, discussions, tours, and interactive participation each week, plus there will be a brief pre-reading exercise to best prepare academy members for that week's subject matter (no more than 20 minutes). At the end of the program, participants will be provided with a public policy problem and work collaboratively to design an intervention solution.


Participants will be a diverse collection of residents, business owners, or individuals who work in St. Helena. Participants must be at least 16 years of age and list their connection with the City of St. Helena on their application.

Weekly Topics

  • Week 1 
    • Welcome! Introductions, meet-and-greet with Council Members and City Manager, expectations of program and government 101: balancing bureaucracy, efficiency and transparency
  • Week 2
    •  Community development and public infrastructure - permitting and the development process, City facilities and utilities, traffic patterns and regulations
  • Week 3 
    • City budgets, the structure of City government funding, taxes, and ballot measures
  • Week 4 
    • Industry in St. Helena: Wine growing, making, and marketing, retail, and hospitality in St. Helena
  • Week 5 
    • Public safety and emergency management, community-oriented policing, and bias training
  • Week 6 
    • Community partnerships, quasi-governmental organizations, and shared services
  • Week 7 
    • Public meetings and protocols, effective decision making and key laws governing Council conduct
  • Week 8 
    • How to effectively advocate for a policy change through volunteerism, serving on a Commission, or as an elected official


Meetings will be held at various locations throughout the City including, but not limited to, the Carnegie Building, City Hall, and the Fire Department, depending on the content that week.

Supporting Documents