Fifteen pilot versions of Your Square Mile - a flagship project of the Big Society Network - are expected to run between January and June next year.
The idea behind the scheme is to strengthen people's involvement with their neighbourhoods by offering them practical help, such as maps of local facilities, software grants, office space and contacts in the local council.
"We've decided to concentrate on this because it's practical and apolitical - it does what it says on the tin and it has the support of local authorities and businesses," said Paul Twivy, chief executive of the network.
Twivy told a recent Media Trust conference that there were 93,000 square miles in the UK, and two of them - the City of London and Westminster - had "let us down badly".
He said the majority of the planned pilots would be in areas that had little or no social capital. However, about a third of them would be sited in stronger communities, some of which would be deprived areas that had beaten the odds.
The square mile groups would be established as mutuals that anyone over the age of 16 could join, he said. Eventually, the local groups would link up with a national network.
Twivy, who has an advertising background, said that the Big Society Network was an independent foundation that received some help from civil servants, but no public funding. "We are not here to represent the government," he added.