Reducing Polarization: What Is Philanthropy’s Role?

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The rise of political polarization and resulting incivility and intolerance have emerged as threats to American democracy. Philanthropic donors have taken note—and taken steps to ameliorate these ills.

Philanthropy Roundtable hosted the founders of three philanthropically supported groups with distinct approaches to reducing polarization. David Isay, the founder of StoryCorps, is applying that group’s well-established personal storytelling method to bridge interpersonal divides; Jonathan Haidt, the founder of Heterodox Academy, is working to introduce and sustain civil dialogue in academia; and David Blankenhorn, founder of Braver Angels, is encouraging a wider range of public voices to counter an uncivil fringe. Roundtable Executive Senior Fellow Howard Husock moderated a discussion among them, discussing their distinct approaches and how they convinced donors to get involved.