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

Education journalism shapes public perception of teachers and helps shape policy priorities - intertwining the media, K-12 education, and the contours of teaching in many significant ways. To foster more insightful journalism, Public Agenda’s Teachers in the News project, supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, provides an unprecedented analysis of education media coverage, alongside findings from a survey of teachers and parents; and interviews with teachers and journalists.

Public Agenda’s analysis examines teacher portrayals in education journalism from 2009 to 2020 in five national and five local newspapers. Findings from a nationally representative survey examine what K-12 public school teachers and parents think about how the media portrays teachers, what education topics deserve more coverage, and the challenges teachers have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. In video interviews, teachers and journalists reflect on what these findings mean for the future of education and news.

To view findings, implications, and videos in full, visit our dedicated site www.teachersinthenews.org.

Public Agenda's Hidden Common Ground® initiative challenges the narrative that Americans are hopelessly divided and incapable of working together. Through research, journalism, and public engagement, Hidden Common Ground helps Americans identify and strengthen their common ground, productively navigate their differences, and create fair and effective solutions to the challenges of our time.

Hidden Common Ground explores issues including overcoming divisiveness, responses to the coronavirus, health care, economic opportunity, racism and police reform, and immigration.

The Kettering Foundation is a research partner of the Hidden Common Ground initiative. Hidden Common Ground is supported by a diverse group of foundations including Carnegie Corporation of New Yorkthe John S. and James L. Knight Foundationthe Charles Koch InstituteRockefeller Brothers FundCivic Health Project and through the generosity of individual donors.

Learn more about Hidden Common Ground.

Healthier Democracies, an innovative initiative by Public Agenda, works to strengthen American democracy by sharing best practices and innovations from around the world. The project identifies promising global case studies of community engagement—15 in total—and offers recommendations for American public officials. Supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the initiative lays out a path to equitable, deliberative and collaborative relationships between governments and the communities they serve. The views expressed here don't necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.

Findings, Resources, and More

Through the breadth of its 15 global case studies, the Healthier Democracies project has led to a broad range of analyses, reports, and resources. Click the buttons below for more information:

Introduction to Healthier Democracies

  • This document gives a broad overview of the scope, purpose and work of the project.

Global Case Studies

  • The Healthier Democracies project studied public engagement systems from 15 locations around the world, and, accordingly, each study has its own report with key learnings and takeaways.

Lessons Learned

  • While each of the 15 case studies features its own individual report with in-depth findings and analysis, this document gives an overview of key takeaways from the project as a whole.

The Participatory Governance Index

  • The Participatory Governance Index (PGI) is a ground-breaking new assessment tool designed to help public officials and government workers understand the many parts that contribute to a strong, functioning participatory engagement system. It also has an accompanying User Guide.


  • This is a compendium of key terms and concepts discussed throughout Healthier Democracies documents.

Jeni Arndt, Mayor of Fort Collins, Colorado

Rosie Berger, Former Wyoming State Representative (R)

David Blount, Mississippi State Senator (D)

Tanisha Briley, City Manager, Gaithersburg, Maryland

Tom Carroll, Village Manager, Silverton, Ohio

Misty Mason Freeman, Director of the Legislative Policy and Research Office, Oregon State Legislature

Maria Hadden, 49th Ward Alderwoman, City of Chicago

Stacy Householder, Director, Leadership and International Programs, National Conference of State Legislators

Nigel Jacob, Co-Chair, Boston Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics

Manish Jani, IT Director and Deputy Director, Colorado Legislative Council

Valerie Lemmie, Director of Exploratory Research, Kettering Foundation

Doug Linkhart, President, National Civic League

Pete Peterson, Dean, School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University

Satya Rhodes-Conway, Mayor of Madison, Wisconsin

Claire Woodall-Vogg, Executive Director, City of Milwaukee Election Commission


Azucena Morán

Senior Research Fellow

Parisa Parsa

Project Leader

Erin McNally

Research Associate

Melisa Ross

Senior Fellow - Healthier Democracies Project

Mikayla Townsend

Public Engagement Associate

Sara Clarke-De Reza

Fellow for Research and Engagement

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.