Building Social Cohesion: The Opportunity and the Open Questions

Host Organization: Democracy Funders Network


In a socially cohesive society, people can count on access to trusting social networks and a shared sense of solidarity, inclusion, and belonging. In America today, we don’t have that. We are dangerously polarized, but many are starting to see the imperative of building solidarity among Americans across lines of difference. What will it take to thrive as a democracy in which many different identities and belief systems are able to coexist?

There are myriad ways funders can help build a more socially cohesive democracy, but many are wrestling with fundamental questions. Is it possible to advance justice and social cohesion at the same time? What is the range of approaches needed to achieve social cohesion? And finally, what do we know about what actually works to do this (and do it well)?

Democracy Funders Network recently released a guide to help funders think through these and other questions and orient to an issue area that is critically important for the future of democracy. We hope you’ll join us in discussion with peers and experts in the field on this topic. This program is for funders who are interested in finding ways to build social cohesion, those who are unsure about how or whether to invest, and even those who are a bit skeptical of this work.


  • Peter Coleman, Columbia University, Professor of Psychology and Education
  • Ann Reidy, Civic Health Project, Director of Operations
  • Eric Ward, Western States Center, Senior Advisor

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