The Town Council expressed interest in creating a "citizen's college" during a planning retreat in early 2002. The program, formerly known as the School of Government, serves as an opportunity for citizens to increase their understanding of how and when the public is involved in Cary's processes and decisions and spur even greater community involvement. The program has been offered annually since 2003.

Cary 101 provides the community with an opportunity to learn:

  • How municipal government functions
  • What services are provided
  • How citizens can become involved

Students get a behind-the-scenes look at their local government structure, culture and decision-making. Participants are chosen from all submitted applications to represent a cross-section of Cary by age, gender, length of residency and area of town. Through discussion and hands-on activities, students obtain greater awareness of the breadth and depth of Town planning and operations.


Residents of Cary and Cary's ETJ (extra-territorial jurisdiction), high school age or older, with no disqualifying factors.


Eight sessions organized around Town Council goal areas:

  • Attractive, well-planned and livable community
  • Economic vitality and development
  • Effective transportation and mobility
  • Quality recreational, leisure and cultural opportunities
  • Reliable, sustainable infrastructure
  • Safe community
  • Good governance


Town Hall and other Town facilities; details included in course materials provided prior to the first session.


Although Cary 101 sessions previously scheduled for March 24 through April 28, 2020 remain postponed, a virtual event was held for current participants on October 6, 2020. 

If you wish to be added to an interest list for the class of 2021, please email carla.witherington@townofcary.org