Public Agenda is a national research-to-action organization that digs deep into the key challenges facing our democracy to uncover insights and solutions. We engage with advocates, journalists, policymakers, and the philanthropic community to ensure public voice is heard in conversations that shape our shared future.

What We Do
Frame for Deliberation

We start by identifying critical obstacles to democracy.

We reveal how democracy-shaping institutions, such as those in health and education, affect opportunities for citizens and communities to participate effectively in democratic efforts.

The Priorities

Engage for Change

Next, we distill and refine project learnings and key findings to develop models for change.

We work closely with institutions and leaders to address barriers to democratic participation and build opportunities for engagement. Together, we design expansive programs that outline ways to strengthen American systems.

The Initiatives

Building Civic Capacity

Finally, we transform what we have discovered into practical tools to effect change.

We create resources that institutions and leaders use to make progress on the most pressing challenges facing our democracy.

The Resources

Work With Us

We partner with public and private organizations to understand public voice and craft solutions grounded in evidence.

We facilitate collaborative research efforts; conduct, translate, and synthesize research; and develop practical tools to turn research into action.

Our Values



We strive for a future where all Americans share the belief that our democracy works.


We seek to understand what matters to Americans, leveraging the power of difference and common ground.


Recognizing the equal worth and dignity of all people, we welcome differences in values, priorities, and perspectives.


Believing that we can learn, we embrace the challenge of engaging differing perspectives and exploring unfamiliar views.


We celebrate and protect our reputation as a nonpartisan, truthful, and reliable source of knowledge.


We seek solutions that create a just and equitable democracy in which everyone’s values and interests count.


In our partnerships, resource stewardship, and operations, we are collaborative, transparent, and ethical.

Our History

A Strong Democracy Is Responsive to Public Voice


Public Agenda was founded in 1975 when social scientist and pioneer in public opinion research Daniel Yankelovich and public official and statesman Cyrus Vance decided to do something about a fundamental problem they thought was endangering our democracy: the growing disconnect between governing elites and the goals, views, interests, and aspirations of ordinary Americans.

While the work of Public Agenda has taken varied forms across the past few decades, it has always been guided by Yankelovich and Vance’s core commitment to a democracy centered around the voices of America’s citizens.

Today, Public Agenda is motivated by the acute, chronic threats to the well-being and sustainability of our democracy. We focus on democratic institutions and the key sectors, such as education and health, that have potential to make democracy meaningful in the lives of Americans. In keeping with our origins, Public Agenda continues to bring evidence to the table to catalyze action oriented toward positive change.

Daniel Yankelovich

Public Agenda Founder

Cyrus Vance

Public Agenda Founder