Our Impact

Convergence develops solutions to tackle some of America’s toughest challenges. By building trust and relationships among ideologically diverse leaders from across the country, we enable new partnerships and spread solutions never thought possible.  

We are making a powerful contribution to our democracy, creating a culture that chooses collaboration first through our national projects, events, and our bridge-building work. 

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INFLUENCING NATIONAL AND STATE POLICYMAKING

 

Building a Better Budget Process

Beginning in November 2016, Convergence Building a Better Budget Process (B3P) project engaged an unexpected coalition of budget experts, advocates, and executives who are deeply affected by the budget decisions Congress makes each year. This group, which reflects a wide set of ideologies and interests, developed practical, politically realistic proposals to improve the process Congress uses to manage the federal budget.  

The project helped shape Congress’s deliberation and policymaking on the federal budget process. Through sharing the stakeholders’ final recommendations with over 50 Congressional offices and testifying before a Congressional committee, B3P stakeholders worked to help prevent future government shutdowns, reduce budget uncertainty, and restore faith in our government. The testimony led to several of the group’s proposals being included in legislation considered by Congress’s Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform. These recommendations were reflected in the recommendations passed by the Select Committee on Modernization in 2020.

“In this day and age, it’s difficult to find bipartisan agreement, especially on the budget process. By speaking with voices from across the political spectrum, we’ve found that agreement. Together, we developed a set of recommendations that we believe will correct our nation’s course and help end the trend of self-inflicted, periodic crises.”

Neil Bradley, Executive Vice President & Chief Policy Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce  

California Health Reform Initiative

In March 2020, the California Health Reform Initiative’s dialogue participants released a report recommending that California establish a new government entity to address health care costs and affordability. On June 30, 2022, California’s Governor Newsom signed a legislation establishing the Office of Health Care Affordability. The Office was proposed by Asm. Wood (Assembly Bill 1130) and was included in Gov. Newsom’s budget, and mirrored the recommendation issued by Convergence’s California Health Reform Dialogue in March 2020. In addition, California Assembly Health Committee Chair Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) has indicated he will introduce independent legislation to create the Office in February 2021. If enacted, the Office would report equity and quality metrics and improve affordability by addressing cost drivers, setting cost targets and penalties for the health care industry, and increasing financial transparency.

“There’s a lot of momentum behind this idea because everyone recognizes we have to do something bold to effect the change we need in California.”

Gary Cohen, Vice President of Government Affairs, Blue Shield of California   

Health Reform Roundtable

As the 2017 health care debate roiled the nation, our Health Reform Roundtable, consisting of experts who helped create the Affordable Care Act and those who worked to dismantle it, reached consensus and helped reshape the perceptions of both policymakers and the media as to the possibility of bipartisan reform on this contentious issue.   

“Convergence has brought together a diverse group of policy analysts – from strongly conservative to highly progressive – who have chosen to work together to craft a next generation of reform strategies. The Convergence group is unique because it is member driven rather than staff driven and member-assisted.  Both can be useful but are likely to produce significantly different results.” 

Gail Wilensky, Senior Fellow, Project HOPE  

Reentry Ready

Reentry Ready dialogue participants examined ways to improve systems coordination to facilitate a ‘warm handoff’ from jails/prisons to reentry systems and resources that exist in the community, forming three working groups: education and employability, housing and community connections, and physical and behavioral health. The final report, issued in 2019, includes key recommendations and strategies intended to underscore that individuals involved in the criminal justice system need support across several domains in order to make a successful transition back to their communities.

In 2021, Convergence, our facilitation partner Consensus Building Institute (CBI), and dialogue participant Keesha Middlemass launched a first-ever local Convergence pilot. We have begun meeting with reentry stakeholders in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to assess the possibility for a facilitated planning process to improve coordination, reflecting the recommendations of the Reentry Ready participants.

“Where has Convergence been all this time? The Convergence process gave me an opportunity to share what correctional officers really think about our role in reentry. Too often we are left out of conversations about reentry. Everyone assumes that correctional officers are not invested in effective programs and services inside prisons. On the contrary, we want people to get the help they need to live better, more productive lives and not return to prison.” 

Steven Walker, Director, Governmental Affairs, California Correctional Peace Officers Association   


SHAPING BUSINESS PRACTICES   

Project on Nutrition and Wellness

To explore ways to reduce obesity, diabetes, and other nutrition-related problems, Convergence brought together food manufacturers and retailers, public health experts, healthcare providers and insurers, and consumer advocates. The Project on Nutrition and Wellness created an approach that all these stakeholders could endorse – increasing consumer demand for healthier foods and beverages and making them more accessible and affordable.  They created a tool, the Grocery Retail Scorecard, which includes 90 evidence-based strategies that grocery retailers can implement in their stores to grow sales of healthier foods and beverages. Also, they worked with the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) and Cornell University to create a toolkit to promote sales of healthier food and drinks for NACS members who serve 150,000 convenience stores nationwide.  

“I have participated in a lot – and I mean a lot – of multi-stakeholder dialogues. None of these dialogues were as salient, as illuminating, or ultimately as productive as PNW.” 

Mary Sophos, Executive Vice President, Grocery Manufacturers Association   

Working Up

Convergence’s Working Up project on increasing economic mobility through work brought together major employers and small business perspectives, labor unions and other worker advocates, right- and left-leaning think tanks and advocacy groups, innovative non-profit service providers, higher education, and philanthropy. This effort helped several major American companies shift their practices regarding education and training for their workforces, career pathways initiatives, and access to predictable schedules. Even before the recommendations were released in 2018, stakeholders from Walmart and McDonald’s, among others, expanded their investments in workers, providing greater access to higher education and stronger career pathways.  

In 2020, some members of the Working Up dialogue, alongside some fresh voices who did not participate previously, reconvened their cross-sector, cross-partisan conversations, as business leaders and elected officials work to respond to the pandemic’s economic fallout. Many of our Working Up recommendations remain relevant as business leaders continue finding creative ways to support workers during this crisis, and policy advocates in our group have connected to share ideas as they work with leaders in both parties to forge solutions.

Walmart is going through a lot of changes, and I hope you all know how tremendously influential this group has been. Thank you all for teaching me and helping Walmart grow.”

Ellie Bertani, Director of Workforce Strategy and Innovation, Walmart  


SPARKING A NATIONAL MOVEMENT  

Education Reimagined

In six short years, Education Reimagined grew from a Convergence dialogue among ideologically diverse educational leaders to an independent national organization widely recognized as a leader in an emerging movement focused on learner-centered education. Today, Education Reimagined involves hundreds of educators, policy advocates, students, and other leaders who are working together to collectively advance a transformational vision and spread learner-centered education innovation across the country. They have attracted substantial financial support from diverse major educational funders.  

When you focus on building the quality of the relationships, then what increases is the quality of the kinds of conversations that you have…When you improve the quality of the conversations, then you will improve the quality of your decision-making.  And when you improve the quality of your decision-making, then you improve the quality of results.

Becky Pringle, Vice President, NEA


BY THE NUMBERS

Across multiple projects, surveys of Convergence participants show:

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