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Opportunities for Accountability-Related Conversations: Understanding Americans’ Views toward January 6

June 8, 2022

Despite the national unity that initially followed the January 6 Capitol insurrection, conversations surrounding the attack quickly became politicized, the subject of heated disinformation, and polarizing as divergent narratives about "what happened" entrenched.Developing a shared narrative of and ensuring accountability for–political violence is critical for its non-recurrence. In partnership with Over Zero and Protect Democracy, we conducted polling to understand how Americans are thinking about the events of January 6th, and identify alternative inroads for engaging cross-partisan Americans in conversations surrounding January 6 and related accountability efforts. This report is the first in a series of publications summarizing our findings.We conducted this research via YouGov in January 2022 on a nationally representative sample of 1,274 Americans.

Houston Muslim Study

May 20, 2022

The purpose of the Houston Muslim Study is to provide an in-depth and policy-relevant study, through a non-security lens, about American Muslims at the local level in Houston, Texas. The study offers fresh insights and helps shape a discussion about American Muslims that is data-driven and moves beyond the generalizations, prejudices, and fear that too often surround public and policy discourses about Muslim communities in America.

From Trauma to Development: A Policy Agenda for an Equitable Future for Young Children of Immigrants

May 19, 2022

By 2025, children of immigrants will make up nearly one-third of the U.S. child population. More than 94 percent of children of immigrants under the age of six are U.S. citizens, symbolizing a shift in the face of the nation. The ability of young children to learn, grow, and succeed defines what our nation will become, and yet, children of immigrants often lack the necessary resources to grow to their full potential. Additionally, due to a host of factors including their parents' journeys to the United States, socioeconomic status, citizenship status, language fluency, and the disruptions and destabilizations of the COVID-19 pandemic, the children of immigrants are also coping with trauma that, without proper resources and care, could leave them struggling throughout their whole lives. Relying on interviews with immigrant parents, experts, and advocates in the immigrant and child advocacy spaces, as well as a growing body of early education research, this report summarizes the barriers to learning, growth, and development for young children of immigrants and the policy solutions--like access to early education tailored to their families' particular needs--that could help them to overcome not only the social, educational, and economic barriers they face, but also to heal from trauma and live happy, healthy lives in the United States.

Alt-Finance for Alt-Tech: Monetizing the Insurrection Online Before and After January 6

May 5, 2022

This brief maps the financial tools and techniques employed by alt-tech industry leaders like Gab's CEO Andrew Torba, high-profile members of the Proud Boys, and others implicated in the January 6 Capitol attack and the far-right's assault on American democratic institutions. For many in this milieu, Amazon's decision to pull hosting for Parler following the Capitol attack was a clarion call to the need for a parallel web, and prominent players have since flocked to the task of building it. 

Educating English Learners During the Pandemic: Insights from Experts, Advocates, and Practitioners

April 13, 2022

There is a growing body of evidence about the disproportionate impact the pandemic had on English learners (ELs). We sought to capture the complexity of learning conditions for this student population during the COVID-19 pandemic by interviewing 20 EL education leaders. These experts' experiences revealed that while remote learning posed significant challenges to EL education and services, educators improvised, collaborated, and continued to innovate throughout the pandemic. To help EL students moving forward, education leaders on all levels must acknowledge both the struggle and perseverance that shaped their educational experiences during the pandemic.

Evaluating the Effects of Ranked-Choice Voting

March 30, 2022

As ranked-choice voting (RCV) continues to spread across America, activists, voters, election officials, and state lawmakers want to know more about the effects of adopting RCV and other voting systems on participation, processes, partisanship, policy, and power. Recognizing the need for more—and more publicly accessible—research on electoral reform, New America's Political Reform program formed the Electoral Reform Research Group (ERRG) with partners at the American Enterprise Institute, the Unite America Institute, and Stanford University's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law.This collection of ERRG research includes 15 original studies, presented here as a series of briefs. The full papers are available to download for free on the Social Science Research Network website.

Community Perspectives on COVID-19 Recovery: A Report on 2021 Community Conversations

March 21, 2022

As Chicago works to come back from the pandemic, years of disinvestment and structural racism have made economic recovery harder for some communities than others. To have a truly equitable recovery, it's important to understand the on-going impact the pandemic has had on Black and Latinx communities hit hard by job loss, sickness, and death. In collaboration with The Chicago Community Trust and We Rise Together: For an Equitable and Just Recovery, New America Chicago commissioned a report from BECOME to learn more about how these communities were recovering and what is still needed from local and federal policymakers for these communities to not just recover but thrive.We Rise Together is a coalition of corporate and philanthropic funders working with the community to accelerate equitable economic recovery in the Chicago region. Housed at The Chicago Community Trust, We Rise Together is increasing employment opportunities for Black and Latinx workers, strengthening businesses of color, and spurring investment in disinvested neighborhoods. Because We Rise Together is committed to grounding the initiative's efforts in the lived experiences of Chicago's most marginalized communities, the decision was made to host Community Conversations across Chicago neighborhoods that have been hardest hit by the pandemic.  A team from BECOME worked with New America Chicago, The Trust, and We Rise Together to plan seven Community Conversations in collaboration with nonprofits from each neighborhood. Participants had strong recommendations for support and resources to help their neighborhoods recover economically from the pandemic. Consistently, across all neighborhoods, we heard that people struggled and continue to struggle economically and emotionally as a result of the pandemic. Still, most found unexpected positives in the midst of the pandemic.

Parler and the Road to the Capitol Attack: Investigating Alt-Tech Ties to January 6

January 5, 2022

The January 6, 2021 mob assault on the U.S. Capitol exposed deep fissures between Americans and shook the very foundations of the country. The violence that day and the tech industry's response to the tsunami of polarizing content triggered a major public debate over how social media and tech companies manage their platforms and services and the impact of content moderation policies on polarization, extremism, and political violence in the United States. That debate is also now playing out in Congress where the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol is now underway. One big question is: How did niche social media sites geared toward far-right audiences, like Parler, contribute to polarization around the 2020 presidential election and to what extent did Parler and other platforms factor into the January 6 attack? The first in a series of investigations into the impact of the alt-tech movement on U.S. national security, this report provides an initial snapshot of observations culled from an ongoing analysis of open source data related to the Capitol attack.Based, in part, on an early assessment of a cache of an estimated 183 million Parler posts publicly archived after Parler was temporarily deplatformed, the analysis in this report offers unique insights into online and offline early warning signs of the potential for election-related violence in the year-long run up to the Capitol attack. On the streets and online, the networked effects of poor platform governance across the internet during the 2020 presidential election were notable on mainstream and fringe social media sites. Nevertheless, the combined impact of Parler's loose content moderation scheme as well as data-management practices and platform features—either by design or neglect, or both—may have made the social media startup especially vulnerable to strategic influence campaigns that relied heavily on inauthentic behavior like automated content amplification and deceptive techniques like astroturfing.

Violence—Proofing U.S. Democracy: Immediate Priorities For Philanthropy

December 15, 2021

U.S. philanthropy is keenly focused on re-invigorating and renovating democracy, supporting a wide range of actors and approaches. Successful strategies to strengthen formal and informal institutions, and reverse polarization, will need to include strategies to prevent and build resilience against political violence. International experience teaches that the risks of violence endure—and sometimes reach their heights—amidst efforts to reform dysfunctional systems and address democratic backsliding.In other words, rising risk of political violence is not just an outcome of democratic failure, but a side effect of efforts at democratic renewal. As such, philanthropy needs to prepare to minimize and mitigate violence as part of longer-term efforts to renew U.S. institutions and build bridges among American communities.This working paper for philanthropy, written with our partners Over Zero and Thought Partnerships, briefly summarizes current trends that, in light of global experience, suggest heightened risks of violence. Against this worrisome backdrop, we propose six funding strategies and specific recommendations to integrate violence prevention and mitigation into existing strands of work on polarization, institutions, or justice issues:Bolstering democracy and institutionsAddressing the threat of extremismAddressing the harmful communications landscapeResetting norms at the elite and community levelsCreating accountabilityLaying the groundwork for coordinated response to immediate risks

Designing for Community Engagement

December 8, 2021

The programs and rules that affect Americans' daily lives and security are profoundly shaped by the regulatory and rule-making process within the Executive Branch of government. While federal regulation touches thousands of issues, from employment rights to environmental health, the process of creating these regulations is shrouded in bureaucratic mystery, disconnected from Americans' daily experiences, and rarely covered outside specialized media.The Biden-Harris administration has sought to broaden the role of public engagement in the process of government decision-making, with a particular focus on equity. In January of this year, the administration issued two Executive Orders (EOs) that called for modernizing regulatory rule-making and for advancing equity. In November, the administration put forth a management vision which includes three priority areas for building a more equitable, effective, and accountable Federal Government. One priority area is to improve the design of services and provide digital access in ways that reduce burdens, address inequities, and streamline processes.A key source of expertise on improving public engagement and informing execution of the EOs and the management vision are local leaders and organizers who, in cooperation with state and local government, have developed and tested more effective and equitable methods of participation. Local organizers, deeply rooted in the challenges and experiences of their communities, possess distinctive expertise. They offer not only illustrative examples of best engagement practices, but also approaches to designing processes that engage diverse communities effectively. These insights and practices include building concrete feedback loops into participatory processes, incorporating continuous consultation and engagement, and identifying ways to promote transparency and inclusion into the review process.

Building the Relationships for Collaborative Governance: Case Studies from Across America

November 17, 2021

In recent years, a more collaborative form of democratic engagement has emerged, primarily at the local and state level, as well as internationally. Collaborative governance, or co-governance, refers to a broad range of models of civic engagement that allow people outside and inside government to work together in designing policy. This new form of engagement seeks to break down the boundaries between advocates and officials and is not only more democratic, but also more inclusive and open to those served by the government. How are co-governance relationships best developed, sustained, and supported? The clearest way to answer this question is not in theory, but from the learned experiences of co-governance, at the neighborhood, city, and state level. In this report, we highlight five of these cases in communities across the country where progress has been made to improve the quality of life and strengthen the bonds of community for all through the collaborative work of democracy.

What We Know About Ranked-Choice Voting

November 10, 2021

As ranked-choice voting (RCV) gains momentum in American politics, a new body of research has emerged to examine the reform's effects on voters, candidates, campaigns, and policy. This report offers a systematic overview of the literature on RCV in the United States. Broadly, the research shows that RCV is an improvement over the more traditional single-vote plurality voting system, with clear benefits in some areas—especially campaign quality and descriptive representation—and more marginal or no apparent benefits in other areas. The research should also allay fears that RCV is too confusing or discriminatory: voters understand RCV, and learn to like it, too, particularly with experience.However, many promised benefits of RCV appear to be more modest than many had initially hoped and/or difficult to quantify based on limited usage thus far in the United States. It is possible that these benefits will take time to become apparent as candidates and voters learn and attitudes change. It is also possible that the adoption of RCV nationwide would be more transformative than city-by-city and even state-by-state adoption. But given the broader structural forces at play in our deteriorating national politics, stronger medicine may be needed.