Essential Partners


  • Engage Across Differences

Founded in 1989, Essential Partners helps people build relationships across differences to address their communities’ most pressing challenges.

Over four decades, Essential Partners (EP) has been one of the most influential leaders in the fields of dialogue and deliberation, diversity and pluralism, de-polarization, alternative conflict resolution, and revitalizing democracy.

EP's highly adaptable, scalable approach, called Reflective Structured Dialogue, equips people to transform the way they live, work, worship, and learn together.

By changing the way people communicate and breaking dysfunctional cycles, we can change the way they understand, trust, and relate to one another, even across vast divides. Relationships that are rooted in trust and mutual understanding empower people to address their most pressing challenges together—from partisan polarization and political dysfunction to interfaith conflicts and different views on abortion—without being asked to compromise their deepest values or their identities.

At Essential Partners, we believe that our most urgent problems can only be addressed by people who live and work together every day. Our vision is a world of thriving communities strengthened by difference, connected by trust. EP collaborates with civic groups, museums and arts organizations, secondary schools, faith communities, colleges, nonprofits, foundations, and corporations across the United States. We do this in several ways:

  • Training individuals in our trademark approach
  • Through long-term support, coaching, and mentorship
  • Collaborations to shift community or institutional cultures
  • Designing new programs and resources with our partners
  • Facilitating dialogue around explosive issues
  • A vibrant, global learning community of EP alum
  • Continuous research, evaluation, and innovation

Find out more about how we work as well as who we work with, or browse our impact stories for real-world examples of our work and its outcomes, at our website:


Cambridge, MA, USA