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Public Agenda Launches Democracy Renewal Project to Boost Access and Trust in Elections

Press Releases & Statements

Public Agenda Launches Democracy Renewal Project to Boost Access and Trust in Elections

The research-to-action nonprofit Public Agenda has launched the Democracy Renewal Project to catalyze actionable research on unanswered questions at the heart of democratic renewal

Public Agenda’s new ‘research accelerator’ model will create momentum for scholars, researchers, practitioners, and funders in the democracy ecosystem by building an evidence base

Emily Sandusky, PhD, joins Public Agenda as Director of Research Accelerators to lead programs using the new model

October 25, 2023 – Public Agenda, a research-to-action nonprofit dedicated to building a democracy that works for everyone, has launched the Democracy Renewal Project, a new initiative to catalyze rigorous, actionable research on promising practices and interventions to strengthen American democracy.

The first Democracy Renewal Project research cycle will focus on how we can achieve full access to electoral participation for all citizens while strengthening trust in elections, two essential goals for the legitimacy and sustainability of our democracy. The cycle is timed to enable researchers to take full advantage of the 2024 presidential election cycle.

The Democracy Renewal Project is the inaugural application of Public Agenda’s new Research Accelerator model, a method for catalyzing, translating, synthesizing, and communicating rigorous research on practice-relevant questions on core institutions of American democracy. Public Agenda will solicit proposals, distribute grant funds to researchers, translate and synthesize findings, and share them with advocates, practitioners, policymakers, journalists, and philanthropists. The initial RFP will be available in mid-November 2023.

“While Americans disagree about many things, we are united in recognizing that our democracy faces deep challenges,” said Andrew J. Seligsohn, PhD, President of Public Agenda. “We’ve seen the emergence of new pro-democracy organizations and initiatives, with a great deal of philanthropic support. Still, our practical efforts are hampered by a lack of evidence showing what approaches are likely to work, and we’re not learning as much as we can from the practical work that is being done. The Democracy Renewal Project, with the Research Accelerator model at its heart, is the infrastructure we need to test reforms and interventions, refine promising practices, and bring what we are learning to people who can use it—in terms non-specialists can understand. Our work will help make the efforts of practitioners more effective and the investments of funders more efficient.”

Emily Sandusky, PhD, has joined Public Agenda as Director of Research Accelerators to lead in the execution of the new model, including for the Democracy Renewal Project. She brings a wealth of academic experience, having recently earned a doctorate in sociology at Cornell University, where her research focused on the links among social inequality, income segregation, and public opinion. Sandusky has also taught undergraduates at Cornell University and the Borough of Manhattan Community College. Her work has appeared in peer-reviewed publications such as City and Community and The New Handbook of Political Sociology

In addition to the Democracy Renewal Project, Public Agenda is undertaking a research accelerator focused on K-12 education in the state of Pennsylvania. Spurred by the state’s new culturally relevant and sustaining education (CRSE) policy, Public Agenda will use the accelerator model to understand the implementation and outcomes of the policy.

Please sign-up here to receive the Democracy Renewal Project RFP once it goes live in mid-November.

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Questions or requests can be directed to Public Agenda’s Press Office [email protected]

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About Public Agenda

Public Agenda is a national research-to-action organization that digs deep into the key challenges facing our democracy to uncover insights and solutions. Founded in 1975 by the social scientist and public opinion research pioneer Dan Yankelovich and former secretary of state Cyrus Vance, we engage with advocates, journalists, policymakers, and the philanthropic community to ensure public voice is heard in conversations that shape our shared future.

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