An Update on the Hidden Common Ground project and National Issues Forums (NIF) Guides in the Coming Months

Blog Category: 

  • America Amplified
  • Public Agenda
  • Kettering Foundation
  • National Issues Forums

An Update on the Hidden Common Ground project and NIF Guides in the Coming Months


The National Issues Forums began 2020 with an exciting new partnership with Public Agenda and USA TODAY and a full slate of issue guides and updates to be published quarterly (and sometimes more often) leading up to the November elections.


Though the year has brought unforeseen changes, the partnership continues and has even grown: Public Agenda and USA TODAY are publishing monthly surveys, research and news stories about issues, and a network of public radio stations, America Amplified, is now also reporting on those issues. The Kettering Foundation and NIF are moving ahead on publishing multiple issue frameworks, the online deliberation platform Common Ground for Action has expanded its activities, and NIF has created new opportunities for deliberating in online platforms such as Zoom.


The events of recent months have upended the original schedule. The COVID-19 pandemic, the resulting economic collapse and need to rebuild the economy, and the nationwide protests following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis have caused the Hidden Common Ground partners to shift focus to these ongoing events. The past two months, for instance, have been devoted entirely by Public Agenda and USA TODAY to responses to the pandemic.


Here is how the upcoming schedule for Hidden Common Ground, and NIF’s publication plans, looks now. Following are the dates of each Public Agenda/USA TODAY release and the planned issue. They are highly tentative and subject to change:


June 26: Race and policing – The Hidden Common Ground project had intended to address America’s foreign policy this month; now it is shifting gears to address the nationwide protests and the underlying concerns. The NIF network conducted forums on  “Safety and Justice: How Should Communities Reduce Violence?” in 2017, but is now preparing an advisory to promote deliberation on more recent events. We will let you know as soon as it is published.


July 10: Immigration -- The Kettering Foundation and NIF have completed the newly updated issue guide, “Immigration: Who Should We Welcome? What Should We Do?”, which will be available by the end of June.


August 14: The economy – NIF is preparing for release at the same time a new issue guide, “Back to Work: How Should America Rebuild the Economy?”


September 24: Voting – NIF is preparing a new issue framework on this topic.


October 16: “Strange bedfellows” – To wrap up the Hidden Common Ground project, USA TODAY’s coverage will focus on individual stories of citizens overcoming their differences to work together.


If you have further questions, please contact Tony Wharton at or Darla Minnich at