Everyday Democracy

October 21, 2021 Quinn Anderson, Participedia Team
June 9, 2020 Joyce Wong
June 3, 2020 Jesi Carson, Participedia Team
May 22, 2020 Patrick L Scully, Participedia Team
May 12, 2020 Joyce Wong
May 5, 2020 Joyce Wong
November 27, 2019 Jaskiran Gakhal, Participedia Team
May 26, 2019 Patrick L Scully, Participedia Team
May 26, 2019 Alanna Scott, Participedia Team
May 26, 2019 Scott Fletcher Bowlsby
July 14, 2018 Scott Fletcher Bowlsby
July 22, 2016 Arfung
July 29, 2009 Arfung

Everyday Democracy has worked with hundreds of communities over the past thirty years, turning conversation into action, and action into positive change. They have tools and resources that can help foster community engagement with a racial equity lens.

Vision and Mission

Everyday Democracy's 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

Everyday Democracy's mission is to help communities work equitably and inclusively in order to build a strong democracy and improve the quality of life for everyone. [1]

Origins and Development 

In 1982, Paul J. Aicher sold his business and used the proceeds to establish the Topsfield Foundation, Inc. Based in Pomfret, Connecticut, the Topsfield Foundation dedicated itself to enhancing civic engagement through public dialogue. Later, in 1989, the foundation established the Study Circles Resource Center as its primary project.

"In the early years, we focused on developing a better kind of public dialogue, drawing on the ways people talk in their everyday lives. Then, we championed the idea that public talk is for everyone, and helped communities organize to bring all kinds of people into the conversation. Now we’re helping people connect public dialogue to real solution using our Dialogue to Change Process with a racial equity lens." [2]

Organizational Structure, Membership, and Funding

Everyday Democracy is run by a board of directors, with Carolyne Abdullah standing as Senior Executive Director for over 25 years.

Everyday Democracy's primary source of funding is The Paul J. Aicher Foundation. Additional support for the work of the Center and the Foundation comes from contracts, grants, and in-kind support from other foundations and partner organizations.[3]

Specializations, Methods, and Tools

On their website, Everyday Democracy explains their approach: "Everyday Democracy has worked with hundreds of communities over the past 30 years, turning conversation into action, and action into positive change. Whether you’re grappling with a divisive community issue, or simply want to include residents’ voices in city government, we have tools and resources that can help foster civic engagement.

Through a process we call 'Dialogue to Change,' groups of diverse people meet over the course of several weeks - building trust through open and honest discussions, learning about the complex issues their community is facing, and working together on solutions.

Given the impact of racism in our country, our process pays special attention to how structural racism and other inequities affect the issues we address."

The key issues they provide resources for and address are:

  • Police-Community Relations
  • Racial Equity
  • Education
  • Neighborhoods
  • Early Childhood Development
  • Youth
  • Poverty
  • Diversity
  • Immigration
  • Mental Health

Major Projects and Events

Since 1989 Everyday Democracy has supported, guided, evaluated, and/or convened hundreds of deliberative events, community organizing initiatives, and dialogue-to-change programs. The following are a selection of the organization's most well-known work:

Analysis and Lessons Learned

Want to contribute an analysis of this organization? Help us complete this section!


All of Everyday Democracy's publications are made available to the public and are published under Creative Commons licensing. Publications and resources include discussion guides, reports, worksheets, activities, handouts, how-to's, and more.[5]

See Also 

Everyday Democracy Announces Plan for Leadership Transition

Study Circles (Dialogue-to-Change) (method)

Communities Creating Racial Equity (Case) 

Food For Health: Building a Healthy Food System for NYC (Case)

Strong Starts for Children: Dialogues on Early Childhood Development and Education in Albuquerque, New Mexico (Case)


[1] Mission Statement, Everyday Democracy, 2018,

[2] "History of Everyday Democracy," Everyday Democracy,

[3] "About the Paul J. Aicher Foundation," Everyday Democracy,

[4] "Our Approach to Change," Everyday Democracy, 2018,

[5] "Resources for Change Makers," Everyday Democracy, accessed May 26, 2019,

Matt Leighninger, Martha McCoy. Mobilizing Citizens: Study Circles Offer a New Approach to Citizenship in National Civic Review, Vol. 87, No. 2 (July 2003): 183-190.

Martha L. McCoy, Patrick L. Scully. Deliberative Dialogue to Expand Civic Engagement: What Kind of Talk Does Democracy Need?, in National Civic Review, Vol. 91, No. 2 (Summer 2002): 117-135.

External Links