Oct 27, 2016


Join a Better Conversation this Election Season

How are you feeling this election season? If you say disengaged and fatigued, you're not alone. Even the most optimistic among us likely are.

One of the core parts of our mission is to foster a more informed and civil public discourse. To that end, we're offering a way for you to participate in a better conversation this election season.

Join us for a virtual event to discuss the issues that matter most. In partnership with Baruch College, our team has created #TextTalk2016 -- a real-time, text-enabled, face-to-face conversation.

All you need to do is gather a few friends, family members or colleagues around a cell phone. Meet wherever you want at any time before election day and text "BEGIN" to 89800. You'll receive a series of text messages to guide you through a conversation on the top issues this election.

#TextTalk2016 is meant to encourage dialogue that is personally meaningful, that stimulates thinking about actions you want to take, and that is part of a much larger conversation on the present and future of the country.

We hope to hear your stories of how #TextTalk2016 started a conversation that inspired new thinking and action. Send your comments to nhewitt@publicagenda.org or tweet a selfie of your group with #TextTalk2016.

How the Process Works

-- Participants form into groups of 3-4 people and receive a welcome text, followed by dialogue & polling questions about the campaign, such as "How likely are you to vote this November? A) Very likely, B) Somewhat likely, C) Not likely".

-- Each participant texts in a response and receives a text with the next question.

-- Participants also get texts with links that show the aggregated results of the polling in real time.

-- Guidelines include: "1. Listen w/ respect, 2. It's OK to disagree but don't make it personal, 3. What's said here stays here." 

-- Responses to the questions will be recorded anonymously.

TextTalk2016 was made possible in partnership with Baruch College, and can be utilized until the presidential election on November 8th.

The TextTalk platform can be used in other settings as well. Working with our partner, OneCounts, our team can create a similar text-enabled engagement platform and customize questions just for your needs. This is a great tool for public engagement on regional issues like transportation, housing and resiliency planning, and for issues that are statewide or national in scope.

For more information on incorporating this and other innovative engagement strategies in your work, contact Nicole Hewitt. 

New from Public Agenda

It's been a busy month in higher education. Our research was mentioned in a Washington Post story that looked at how college cost concerns are not reflected in major broadcast news programming. It was also mentioned by The Hechinger Report's Jon Marcus in an article on free college. Our work on participatory budgeting was highlighted in a story on how communities are using direct democracy to shape city budgets. See all media coverage from this month here.  

Americans are losing confidence in the necessity of a college education for success in the workforce. This research brief explores this and other findings from two omnibus surveys regarding the public's opinion on higher education.

Our new survey suggests public confidence in higher education is waning. Share this graphic on social media and engage us and others.

This document includes a full description of the methodology used, questions asked, and survey responses from a 2016 survey of public confidence in higher education.

Report:Participatory Budgeting in the United States and Canada in 2014 - 15
This report provides the first-ever comprehensive analysis of participatory budgeting in the U.S. and Canada. The follow-up to this research will be release later this year. 

From the Blog
Providers that don't share price information with consumers tend to have significantly higher prices and drive up health care costs overall, writes Allison Rizzolo.
A conversation between Director of Higher Education and Workforce Programs, Alison Kadlec, and Gretchen Robertson, a Basic Education for Adults (BEdA) faculty member from Skagit Community College, on how to better serve and support students. 

We believe that efforts to boost college attainment will have the best chance of succeeding if they are informed by and responsive to the needs and perspectives of the American public. Share if you agree. 

President Will Friedman examines the possibilities presented by the current economic and political moment.

Public Agenda is a nonprofit organization that helps diverse leaders and citizens navigate divisive, complex issues. Through nonpartisan research and engagement, it provides people with the insights and support they need to arrive at workable solutions on critical issues, regardless of their differences. Since 1975, Public Agenda has helped foster progress on K-12 and higher education reform, health care, federal and local budgets, energy and immigration. Find Public Agenda online at PublicAgenda.org.

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