Let's build a democracy that works for everyone

Public Agenda is a nonpartisan research and public engagement organization dedicated to strengthening democracy and expanding opportunity for all Americans.

New & Noteworthy

Our Work:


Lifts up the views and values of the public in today’s policy debates, including those of groups who have had too little voice in our public conversations.


Helps communities think through tough problems, build common ground on solutions, and work together to forge progress on such issues as: Education, Health Care, Economic Opportunity, Climate Change


Helps people redesign and revitalize democracy to make it more inclusive, participatory, and effective.

Programs & Publications

The Hidden Common Ground Initiative™ challenges the increasingly dominant narrative of a hopelessly divided America by identifying and elevating the areas where American’s agree on politically polarized issues, and by fostering productive dialogue on those areas where we truly disagree.

Hidden Common Ground 2020 is the latest, and most exciting iteration of our HCG initiative. Throughout the presidential election season it will involve public opinion research on major issues, innovative journalism and commentary, broad-based public engagement, “Strange Bedfellows” storytelling, and community-based dialogues and events. It is supported by a diverse group of foundations, including the Carnegie Corporation of New Yorkthe John S. and James L. Knight Foundationthe Charles Koch Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, as well as through the generosity of individual donors. In addition, the Kettering Foundation is a research partner of the initiative.

Divisiveness and Collaboration in America is the first research publication of our Hidden Common Ground 2020 partnership.


Image used with permission from USA TODAY/Mickey Welsh/Montgomery Advertiser.

Strange Bedfellows

The Strange Bedfellows stories bring together moments of Americans from all over the country working together across political, racial, religious and other perceived dividing lines, to solve real problems facing their communities. Strange Bedfellows is the culmination of Hidden Common Ground 2020, a partnership of Public Agenda, USA TODAY, the National Issues Forums and the American Amplified public media collaborative.




America's Hidden Common Ground on Economic Opportunity and Inequality

This survey asked Americans about how the nation can create widespread opportunity and build an economy that works for everyone. It reveals several important areas of agreement across the political spectrum on creating jobs, increasing the minimum wage, supporting small businesses, and more. The creation of good jobs is a key factor in increasing opportunity and Americans across the political spectrum support many measures they see as steps to building economic promise for individuals. Additionally, it finds that most Americans support raising the minimum wage, an increase in support for raising the minimum wage compared to our Hidden Common Ground survey fielded in February 2020.

Where Americans Stand on Immigration: A Hidden Common Ground Report

This report explores the views and values of the American public on immigration, including how much change people think the immigration system needs, their goals and priorities for changing it, and their views on various proposals for doing so. Overall, this research finds areas of cross-partisan agreement on several aspects of immigration that could point the way towards workable policy solutions. Also striking is the prevalence of misperceptions about immigration, which tend to correspond with more restrictive views on immigration policy among respondents. It is our hope that this report, along with the other Hidden Common Ground activities that accompany it, can help to focus, frame, and stimulate an informed and productive conversation about improving our nation’s immigration system.

Read the report.

America's Hidden Common Ground on Race and Police Reform: Results from a Public Agenda/USA Today/Ipsos snapshot survey

Most Americans (58%) say racial bias against Black or African Americans committed by police and law enforcement is a serious problem in their community, including 75% of Democrats and 51% of Independents as well as 40% of Republicans. There is significant common ground across the political spectrum and across racial/ethnic groups on several measures to reduce police use of excessive force against Black Americans, including increasing transparency and data collection, de-escalation and anti-bias training, recruiting more Black officers, and community policing. Americans are split on how to change police departments’ budgets and whether to reduce departments’ responsibilities in the community.

Read the snapshot.

The New York Metro Agenda is our program specifically serving our home city and region through nonpartisan research, cutting-edge public engagement and local events. 

New York is our home base. It is also a hotbed of democratic innovation, and we are supporting this civic energy through actionable research, cutting-edge democratic practices, and thought-provoking events. Recent local projects have supported better health care services for low-income families; better small businesses/community relations; and collaboration between residents and scientists on environmental resilience in Jamaica Bay.

Recent work:

Avenue NYC

Cycles of Resilience - Jamaica Bay

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How We Work

Public Agenda works to strengthen democracy and expand opportunity for all Americans through public engagement and public opinion research.

"...it [can be] hard to find agreement on where things stand, how we can do better, and what solutions are worth trying...Public Agenda provided a signal service in promoting civil discussion, clarifying what we do and don't know, and respectfully acknowledging different views."

- Frederick M. Hess, Director of Education Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute


Help Us Build a Democracy that Works for Everyone

Democracy in America and around the world has come under severe stress. It is Public Agenda’s privilege to work as hard as we can to make our democracy a more just, effective and resilient problem-solving institution, so everyone has a voice. Please make a gift to us today, at this critical moment in American history.