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About Everyday Democracy

Background

Our mission is to help communities talk and work together to create communities that work for everyone. We work directly with local communities, providing advice and training and flexible how-to resources.

Everyday Democracy is a project of The Paul J. Aicher Foundation, a private operating foundation dedicated to strengthening deliberative democracy and improving the quality of public life in the United States.  

Since our founding in 1989, we’ve worked with hundreds of communities across the United States on issues such as: racial equity, poverty reduction and economic development, education reform, early childhood development and building strong neighborhoods. We work with national, regional and state organizations in order to leverage our resources and to expand the reach and impact of civic engagement processes and tools.

We have learned that some of the key components to ensuring racially-equitable systemic change include building relationships, establishing a diverse coalition, having trained peer facilitators during dialogues, building on assets, and linking actions to individual, community, and policy change. We provide online tools and in-person trainings on organizing, racial equity, facilitation, communications, and action planning. We act as a catalyst and coach for communities, knowing that the people of each community are best suited to carry out and sustain the work that will make a difference.

The communities we serve are the focal point of our work. Our ultimate aim is to help create communities that value everyone’s voice and work for everyone, and to help create a strong national democracy that upholds these principles.

 

Our vision

Our ultimate vision is that local communities create and sustain equitable and inclusive public dialogue that leads to positive change. Such strong local democracies can form the cornerstone of a vibrant national democracy. In this kind of democracy:

  • everyone’s voice has an opportunity to be heard, equally and respectfully;
  • people of different backgrounds and views routinely work together to create equitable communities;
  • elected officials have many opportunities to hear from everyday people;
  • people have ways to work with decision-makers to create public policy

 

Our mission

To help communities work equitably and inclusively in order to build a strong democracy and improve the quality of life for everyone.

 

Our approach to change

We believe that equitable change can happen when we:

  1. Create opportunities for people, institutions, and government to work together for the common good
  2. Involve diverse groups of people so that they have opportunities to speak honestly and listen to each other
  3. Make decisions and policies that reflect everyone’s voice, particularly those who have been marginalized or excluded
  4. Share knowledge, resources, and power
  5. Recognize how structural racism has shaped our nation and our communities
  6. Use an understanding of racial equity to create equitable opportunities and outcomes
  7. Connect local change to a national movement to strengthen democracy

 

The special place of race in our work

Racism is rooted in our country's history and is embedded in our culture. It is still one of the greatest barriers to fulfilling the promise of our democracy. Because of this, we help communities pay particular attention to how structural racism and other structural inequalities affect the issues they address.

Tensions between community members and police were high following the death of Timothy Thomas, a 19-year-old shot by a Cincinnati police officer. Several efforts worked to change law enforcement...

Dialogue to Change

Our ultimate goal is to create positive community change that includes everyone, and we believe that our tools, advice, and resources will help foster that kind of change. Whether you’re grappling with a divisive community issue, or simply want to include residents’ voices in city government, the dialogue to change program can help community members take action and make their voice heard.