One America Community Efforts
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Program: Search for Common Ground on Race Project, Washington, DC
Contact(s): Ms. Amy Wind, Esq., Director: (202) 265-4300
Purpose: To further the national dialogue on race relations and affirmative action by joining liberal and conservative organizations in concrete projects related to these issues

Background Program Operations Outcomes


In January 1998, Search for Common Ground, a global conflict resolution organization, launched Search For Common Ground on Race (SFCGOR). SFCGOR seeks to facilitate cooperative projects between liberal and conservative organizations in areas related to race relations and affirmative action. The program develops action-oriented projects around the "common ground" between opposing groups, facilitates agreements to cosponsor such projects and then helps implement the projects.

Program Operations

Using a "shuttle diplomacy" model, SFCGOR staff meets separately with liberal and conservative groups and individuals to ascertain areas of "common ground" related to race relations and affirmative action. SFCGOR then develops concrete projects incorporating the mutual interests of the different groups and facilitates co-sponsorship agreements between them. Depending on the project, co-sponsorship may entail providing access to union and industry partners; introductions to community groups, activists and local leaders; media exposure; and access to increased funding and in-kind donations. Once agreements are reached, SFCGOR staff remains highly involved in every phase of the project implementation. Currently, the most active projects involve training large numbers of inner city, "at-risk" youth and providing career opportunities in construction and information technology for unemployed adults. Both of these fields face severe, long-term worker shortages. SFCGOR believes that the large scale training of qualified workers benefits the U.S. economy, while it also addresses economic disparities in the inner cities.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

The SFCGOR projects generate tangible positive benefits. For example, its Collaboration in Careers in the Inner Cities Project improve economic conditions in the cities and resolves critical worker shortages. SFCGOR creates opportunities for new relationships and communication among liberals and conservatives, which improves the national debate on race and affirmative action. A positive shift in the dynamics between participants in the public debate on race-related issues facilitates a more positive public attitude on race relations.

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