National Conversation Project

Mending the frayed fabric of America by bridging divides one conversation at a time. People of all stripes & 100+ organizations mainstreaming conversations in which we #ListenFirst to understand. Conversation events coast to coast around the first Friday of each month + semi-annual National Weeks of Conversation. 

The Problem

The United States is facing a cultural crisis. Increasingly in America today, we don’t just disagree; we distrust, dislike, even despise those who see the world differently. Animosity for positions is becoming contempt for the people who hold them. Difference and disagreement are deeply personal as we rage against and recoil from those we see as enemies across widening divides—political, racial, religious, economic and more. Most of us see fewer things that bind Americans together today and have few or no friends from the other side. The rate of loneliness has more than doubled to nearly 50%, creating a public health epidemic. We’re withdrawing from conversations—thereby eroding relationships and understanding—which threatens the foundational fabric of America. 75% of Americans say this problem has reached a crisis level, and 56% believe it will only get worse. Our condition is rapidly deteriorating into what’s now being described as a soft civil war.

The Solution

There is hope even in today's hyper-polarized and tribal society. Experts say the solution is to cultivate more positive social connections. We can turn the tide of rising rancor and deepening division by starting new conversations that bridge divides—move from 'us vs. them' to 'me and you.' Each person who listens first to understand tips the scales toward a stronger future for our nation, one built on relationships created by conversation.

In April of this year, thousands of Americans took part in the first National Week of Conversation (NWOC). More than 130 schools, libraries, faith communities, activist groups and nonprofits hosted conversations coast to coast in 32 states. Majorities of NWOC participants walked away feeling more tolerant, understanding, appreciative and curious toward people with different perspectives. Two-thirds rated the value of their conversation as a 9 or 10 out of 10.

Building on the tremendous success of National Week of Conversation and the momentum it generated, we are now launching an ongoing National Conversation Project to mend the frayed fabric of America by bridging divides one conversation at a time. National Conversation Project (NCP) will engage increasingly more partners and participants through synchronized monthly conversation opportunities (on or around the first Friday of each month) as well as semi-annual National Weeks of Conversation.

National Conversation Project seeks to mainstream conversations across divides in which we listen first to understand. NCP combines the power and networks of 100+ existing organizations to invite people of all stripes to connect with one another, develop relationships, and revitalize America together.

Planned Use Of Funds

National Conversation Project will be wholly funded by donations, which will be used to grow, coordinate, and promote monthly conversation opportunities as well as National Weeks of Conversation. Funds will enable a lean staff to recruit new hosting partners, generate awareness, coordinate events, capture transformation stories, and invite millions of Americans to join the conversations. Donations will also produce high profile convening events and be shared with hosting partners to enhance their monthly conversation programs. NCP will invest in a robust traditional and new media campaign to continually increase the number and diversity of voices in the conversations. With your support, this campaign encouraging and hosting conversations that bridge divides will be the largest in American history, featuring unprecedented breadth and depth of outreach. Impact will be measured and tracked by active engagement metrics, social listening, sentiment analysis, pre and post conversation surveys, and national surveys to quantify the mending of our frayed social fabric.

Stage of Development

  • Early Stage
  • Established Prototype
  • Scaling
  • Other

Organization to Receive Funds

Listen First Project, a 501c3 nonprofit, is spearheading National Conversation Project with the support of the 100+ organizations in the Listen First Coalition. Listen First Project encourages conversations that prioritize understanding to bridge divides and mend our frayed social fabric. We catalyze the Listen First movement powered by more than 100 partner organizations, thousands of individuals, and local chapters coast to coast and around the world. LFP engages in schools, communities, and businesses while recognizing those who champion the Listen First mission.

This project was nominated by: