Citizen participation in government decision making, especially at the local level, has received heightened attention with regard to its promise for improved governance. The overarching administrative ethos of the administrative state creates barriers to citizen participation in governance. Developing and nurturing citizen participation in the presence of the administrative state is a significant challenge. Drawing on the literary tradition of public engagement and learning, this article models a developmental strategy of participation that offers one avenue for achieving meaningful partnerships between city agencies and neighborhood councils in a metropolitan environment. We present a model of citizen participation that brings neighborhood councils and city agencies together in a collaborative partnership. This model is based on the literature on citizen participation, which focuses on the significance of interactive processes in building trust among participants and creating mutual understanding and agreement.