American Civic Life

Promoting Unity and Civic Engagement: The Building Civic Bridges Act

By Kristina Becvar and Kara Revel Jarzynski
Building a bridge. (Ippei Naoi/Getty Images)

Building a bridge. (Ippei Naoi/Getty Images)

(The Fulcrum) — In a world increasingly characterized by division and polarization, it is with great enthusiasm that we bring you exciting news of a new partnership between the Bridge Alliance Education Fund and Resolutionaries. Together, our organizations are embarking on a crucial mission to promote the Building Civic Bridges Act (BCBA) and inspire citizens to actively engage with their representatives, advocating for the passage of this vital legislation.

The BCBA, introduced in 2022 by Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA) with 23 additional bipartisan co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives and by Christopher Coons (D-DE) and Benjamin Sasse (R-NE) in the Senate, is set to take center stage again this September 2023 with the goal of being reintroduced in both chambers. While it may not have become law during the 117th Congress, the vision and importance of the BCBA have not waned. On the contrary, the need for this legislation has only grown more urgent as our society grapples with issues of polarization, partisanship, and social fragmentation.

So, what exactly does the BCBA entail? At its core, the bill seeks to establish an Office of Civic Bridge-building within AmeriCorps, the federal volunteer program. This office would play a pivotal role in overseeing a grant program designed to support civic bridge-building initiatives across the nation. These programs have a singular focus: fostering meaningful connections across lines of difference, be it political affiliation, race, ethnicity, or religion. By encouraging empathy, understanding, and dialogue, the BCBA aims to bridge divides and build a stronger, more cohesive society.

One of the key elements of the BCBA is providing support for training AmeriCorps members in the essential skills of civic bridge-building. These skilled individuals will act as catalysts, driving positive change in their communities and helping to build bridges between disparate groups. Moreover, the bill emphasizes the significance of research on civic bridge-building, civic engagement, and social cohesion. By supporting such research, we can better understand the challenges we face and tailor our efforts effectively toward a civil democracy.

This summer, we urge every citizen to take an active role in shaping their future by reaching out to their respective members of Congress. Let your voice be heard, show your support, or provide valuable feedback on the BCBA. On the Resolutionaries website, you will find a wealth of comprehensive information about the act, as well as a user-friendly advocacy tool that empowers you to connect easily with your representative.


Kristina Becvar is the Chief Operating Officer of the Bridge Alliance Education Fund.

Kara Revel Jarzynski is the Executive Director of Resolutionaries.

This article was originally published on The Fulcrum on August 1, 2023.