With 40 years of experience working on the frontlines of violent conflict, we see unaddressed injustice and deep distrust in both our institutions and each other in the United States. We also see a nation that has made great progress toward noble ideals and the capacity to live up to our democratic goals.
Millions of Americans are calling for common ground — a way to flourish with our differences without compromising our principles. If we win the argument but lose each other in the process, we all lose. Common Ground USA is our answer to that call.
Mission and Scope
Informed by lessons learned as the world’s largest and oldest peacebuilding organization, Common Ground-USA (CG-USA) is a bold initiative of Search for Common Ground aimed to foster the conditions for a more inclusive, equitable, and peaceful society.
Our work is rooted in the belief that we must strengthen collective resilience against political, hate-based, and extremist violence, and make sustained collaborations to mend the unaddressed historical grievances and inequalities that fuel division and polarization.
We stand on the shoulders of 40 years of peacebuilding around the globe. Based on this evidence, we strengthen the five vital signs of peace: safety, social cohesion, institutional legitimacy, personal agency, and resourcing peace. Learn more in Search for Common Ground’s Peace Impact Framework.
Supporting Colleges to Deal with Increased Polarization & Conflict on Campus
For many young adults, the college campus is the most diverse community they have ever been a member of. Learning from peers of different backgrounds, beliefs, identities and perspectives is part of what makes the college experience so formative. But the increasingly coarse and adversarial nature of civil discourse reflected in American politics, popular culture and on the social media platforms that many students have grown up with does not prepare them to engage constructively with that diversity when they arrive on campus. A recent report from Constructive Dialogue Institute and More in Common reflects how this has manifested on campuses: “One in five college students has engaged in calling out, punishing or canceling [someone]”.
Our strategy works around two broad pillars of engagement:
Building American Resilience
Aims to prevent immediate political violence
Employing a whole-of-society approach, this work highlights the limitations of securitized countering violent extremism approaches. We advise and work with religious actors, at-risk individuals, civil society, and government representatives to address root causes and grievances which fuel violence and hinder collective resilience.
Supporting States Resilience, CG-USA works in partnership with OverZero to support networks of diverse community leaders to work together to prevent political violence in Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Arizona.
Local leaders are among our best champions for belonging and trust that weaken the pull of division and extremism. In partnership with community-based organizations and leading experts, CG-USA supports local leaders to build community resilience and stem the tide of polarization, distrust, and hate that can lead to violence.
Digital spaces not only reflect offline conflict dynamics, but they are also increasingly fora for polarization and even fomenting political violence. We’re equipping civil society leaders with tools to curb hateful content and broaden the reach of peacebuilding messages. We bring social media platforms in conversation with the grassroots and national leaders trying to bridge differences that are too often exacerbated online.
Fostering an Inclusive America
Opens the space for broader and deeper societal transformations
Anchored in New Orleans and led in partnership with the Plessy & Ferguson Initiative, CG-USA is launching a historical education and memorialization project aimed to empower communities to collaboratively address the lasting impact of unaddressed historical grievances.
Our Common Ground Leadership programming recognizes the powerful role a diversity of community leaders play in shaping norms and practices in America. Working with leaders across sectors, we aim to increase the capacity of these influencers to positively impact conflict in their communities, incentivizing collaborative action and creating channels of dialogue across differences.
CG-USA is a founding member of the Council on Technology and Social Cohesion, where we partner with peacebuilding and technology leaders to research and explore new generations of tech platforms aimed to reverse trends of online harm and polarization. Findings from our research will be shared during our conference, Designing Tech for Social Cohesion.
Faith leaders sow peace to break new common ground.
Faith leaders are among our most natural allies for peace, as they reconcile people to one another and something greater than ourselves. Common Ground USA, the Multi-Faith Neighbors Network, and PERIL at American University proudly present the Peacemaker’s Toolkit to equip faith leaders with the tools they need to foster peace and resilience within their congregations and beyond. This free resource brings together the best in evidence from global peacebuilding, multi-faith reconciliation, and academic research.
For more information, questions, or requests for support, please contact [email protected].
Download the free Peacemaker’s Toolkit to receive three complementary tools:
A comprehensive resource guide for faith leaders to discern and act on the dynamics that foster peace and resilience to division. The Toolkit offers responses to common challenges: polarization affecting churches and cities, acts of hate targeting neighbors, and online extremism impacting congregants.
A brief introduction to peacemaking, for those who may be just dipping a toe into this work.
Quick reminders to imbue peacemaking into our daily lives. The cards cover six core skills: discussing tough topics, being good neighbors, communicating peacefully, depolarizing social media, avoiding conspiracy theories, responding to hate, and practicing healthy news consumption.