Read the Press Release - National Issues Forums (NIF) Joins Hidden Common Ground Initiative to Examine Americans' Most Urgent Concerns in 2020

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  • a deliberative forum
  • a deliberative forum

DAYTON, Ohio - The National Issues Forums network and the Kettering Foundation are joining a major initiative spearheaded by Public Agenda and USA TODAY to examine how Americans think and talk about the most urgent concerns facing us in the coming election year. 

On November 11, the USA TODAY network released the following statement:

As part of its unique local-to-national coverage of the 2020 presidential election, the USA TODAY network and Public Agenda are joining forces to explore the Hidden Common Ground in American public life.

Through nationwide polling, detailed reporting and community events, Hidden Common Ground will explore areas of authentic public agreement on major issues facing the American electorate. 

The project will launch in December with an exploration of where citizens stand on the need for common ground and its role in our democracy. Subsequent installments will delve into health care, immigration and economic opportunity, all accompanied by original commentary from USA TODAY's award-winning Opinion team. 

"We believe a strong focus on what Americans agree on can make it more possible for Americans to confront and navigate their real divides and disagreements, such as those stemming from tensions of race, class and fundamental questions of political philosophy," said Will Friedman, president and CEO of Public Agenda.

The Hidden Common Ground project will also feature a unique partnership with the National Issues Forums (NIF). The nonpartisan forums will be sponsored by libraries, educational institutions, and civic organizations all across the country. The issues will be those USA TODAY has selected for its election coverage, starting with Partisan Divisiveness and the Collaborative Divide and how it might be bridged, and followed by health care, immigration, and the economy.

Each of the four partners will play a key role:

  • Public Agenda will research and explore the issues, publishing its findings every few months beginning in December 2019;
  • The National Issues Forums Institute will encourage other sponsors to join the NIF network and also provide online forums that will be available to everyone through the Common Ground for Action platform. 
  • The Kettering Foundation will use its research to provide nonpartisan issue guides on these major election issues. 
  • The USA TODAY network will publish stories and opinion pieces on each issue and the associated research, as well as surface "Strange Bedfellow" stories of people in communities actually working together for the common good across partisan and other divides.

This unique partnership provides an opportunity to bring more thoughtful public judgment to bear on our nation's most important elections. 

For more information, call Tony Wharton at 804-337-7158 or email