Mar 1, 2017


More Light on What Unites

In my last update, I shared a glimpse into our latest report, "The Fix We're In," that offers insight into the current, difficult public mood. Importantly, the report reveals a surprising amount of hidden common ground beneath our more obvious divisions.
Many Americans, across region, political party, age and race, believe they and their communities face diminishing opportunity to better their lots because of a political system in which they have no voice or influence. But despite their deep frustrations, once people got talking, they tended to agree on a number of ideas they think might improve things.
While the existence of under-the-radar common ground is encouraging, it will take better public conversation to make it explicit in society and transform it into an agenda for change that addresses the problems our nation must work through to build a better future.

How can we create the kind of public conversation among diverse Americans that brings to light the ideas that unite us without ignoring the real differences we need to navigate? That, to us, is an essential challenge of the period ahead.
While we don't claim to have all the answers, our research offers important clues. I encourage you to look at our full report to not only learn more about the complexities of how people think about inequality and opportunity in America, but for some insights into how we can find more agreement on solutions to alleviate poverty, create economic opportunity and strengthen democracy. 


Will's headshot  

Will Friedman

New from Public Agenda

Our teams have been busy this month hosting engagement workshops and leading discussions at higher ed conferences. Alison Kadlec, along with Josh Wyner of the Aspen Institute, wrote an article for Inside Higher Ed about the responsibility institutions have to improve transfer rates and ways to do it. Corporate Wellness Magazine cited a finding from research on price transparency, which we'll be releasing a follow-up to this April. The stat is that 57 percent of insured Americans do not think there is a cost difference among in-network doctors for the same services -- which is not the current reality.


The Fix We're In: What Americans Have to Say About Opportunity, Inequality and the System They Feel Is Failing Them
Read about conversations we held with folks from small and large cities, including San Diego, Cincinnati, the greater metro area of New York and numerous points in between.

Success Is What Counts: A Community College Guide to Community Engagement & Strategic Partnerships
This guide outlines principles of effective engagement, and provide tools and resources to support effective broad-based community engagement practices. 

This report summarizes data from 61 PB processes around the U.S. and Canada. It includes recommendations from people leading and evaluating PB on the ground, to help others diversify participation, advocate for PB from the grassroots level and incorporate technology in an equitable way.

This white paper examines the extent to which PB employs deliberative principles and processes, explores the challenges in making PB more deliberative and provides recommendations for public officials and practitioners looking to improve their PB processes.

PB in the U.S. and Canada differs in many ways from PB in Brazil, where it has had many social impacts. This white paper explores these differences and how they may affect PB's impact in North America. It also provides a series of practical recommendations for practitioners and policymakers to strengthen PB's ability to reduce inequality.

From the Blog

Last week at DREAM 2017, the annual conference organized by Achieving the Dream (AtD), nearly 2,300 attendees came together to tackle the challenges of increasing student success. 

Chloe Rinehart writes on what she observed during focus groups and in follow-up interviews for a the study on how American's think and talk about issues like inequality and opportunity.

Good Governance Through Better Engagement Strategy


Public Agenda helps build a democracy that works for everyone. By elevating a diversity of voices, forging common ground, and improving dialogue and collaboration among leaders and communities, Public Agenda fuels progress on critical issues, including education, health care and community engagement. Founded in 1975, Public Agenda is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization based in New York City. Find Public Agenda online at, on Facebook at and on Twitter at @PublicAgenda.

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