Rockefeller Brothers Fund Launches National Priorities Initiative at IS Conference

The has announced the first steps in a new initiative aimed at reuniting Americans around a common purpose.

During the annual conference earlier this week in New York City, RBF president Stephen Heintz and IS president and CEO Diana Aviv unveiled the National Purpose Initiative, a multiyear effort to develop, by 2016, a broadly shared national agenda, a statement of shared principles that informs the nation's politics and economic life, and a vision for the country's future that is "animating, unifying, and empowering." To that end, organizations partnering in the effort will engage the public and leaders from the nonprofit and for-profit sectors in a dialogue about national priorities, the reports.

In addition to RBF, the initiative is supported by the , the , and the , Kellogg, , , , and foundations.

"The economic and political problems our nation confronts today are as deep-seated and complex as any we've faced in the last hundred years," Heintz said during the conference's opening plenary session. "Yet, I believe this country has the capacity to revive its dreams and reinvent them for this century. I believe we can renew America's promise — if we can unlock and harness the collective energy, ingenuity, and idealism of our people."

According to Aviv, an intense competition for resources combined with a focus on demonstrating impact has led many charitable organizations to turn inward, "shedding all but a very specific band of activities." As a result, she said, organizations are less likely to work in collaboration with other organizations or the public. "Screening out disagreeable opinions breaks down the connective tissue of a pluralistic society, and democracy falters," said Aviv. "In sum, society is more divided than ever and more isolated."

"." Rockefeller Brothers Fund Press Release 10/01/2013. Paul Clolery. "." NonProfit Times 10/01/2013.