Public Agenda

Navigating complex change is hard. We can help.

Real progress on divisive issues is more attainable when those who are closest to a problem have a voice and a hand in solutions. But this is easier said than done. Let us help.

What's the best way to increase the success of community college students? How should we approach and pay for end-of-life care? How can we keep our neighborhoods safe? Many of the problems we face, like these, require creative thinking, collective judgment and broad collaboration.

We provide you with the insights, tools and support you need to make real progress when:

  • there is conflict or division
  • there is no simple, technical fix
  • the way forward isn't clear
  • people need to work through complex and controversial issues
  • you need team or community effort that crosses silos and boundaries

Public Agenda is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization with a solid reputation as a trusted, honest broker. Having been around since 1975, we have deep experience in helping citizens and leaders collaborate on better ways to make progress on the issues and policies that usually divide them. Read what our clients have to say about us.

The communities we serve are very, very different. With Public Agenda's assistance, we have been able to understand our communities at a level that was previously not possible.

- Thomas Baynum, President

Coastal Bend Community College

How We Can Help

Our services include:


Understand the barriers against and opportunities for making progress. We provide a deep analysis of diverse stakeholder attitudes through:

  • Surveys that uncover not just what people think, but why they think what they do
  • Focus groups interviews and case studies that delve deeper
  • Our innovative Learning Curve Research methodology that examines how people's attitudes evolve as they engage on complex issues and weigh trade-offs


Communicate more effectively with critical stakeholders, improve collaboration and accelerate progress on sustainable solutions. We can help you design, facilitate and report on small- and large-group dialogues, with a special focus on bringing together diverse perspectives. We tailor our engagement processes to your needs, and these processes can include:

  • Community engagement projects that open conversations, build alliances and put communities on the path to solving problems
  • Diverse stakeholder convenings that provide unprecedented opportunities for honest conversation and collaboration
  • Communications support to help leaders connect effectively with stakeholders and build momentum for needed change

Tools and Training

Build skills to engage stakeholders as partners in the hard work of change. We offer training and tools that help you research the attitudes of key stakeholders, design and facilitate difficult conversations and communicate effectively.

Our tools and training include:

  • Facilitator training that advances dialogue and a genuine exchange of ideas
  • Capacity building for leading focus groups
  • Toolkits, webinars and strategic planning materials
  • Guidance on framing issues to generate thoughtful and constructive conversation
  • Train the trainer sessions to strengthen your facilitation capacity for the long term

Public Agenda ... does good work, as free of institutional bias as any I regularly see.

- William Raspberry, columnist

The Washington Post

Who We Can Help

Our proven approaches are suitable for decision makers and stakeholders at multiple levels, from state policymakers to grassroots leaders, teachers to school board members, college presidents to students, mayors to community-based organizations and local businesses.

Past clients include:

  • Montgomery County Community College
  • Oklahoma Business and Education Coalition
  • Ohio Business Roundtable
  • Tennessee Higher Education Commission
  • The League for Innovations
  • Guilford Technical Community College
  • Indiana Commission for Higher Education
  • Montana's Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education

Whether you are at the beginning of a decision-making process, in the middle of implementing reform, or trying to continuously provide insight and guidance through various phases of change, our services can help you develop useful policy that sticks.

Tell Me More

Wondering if we can help you? Contact us today.