(WASHINGTON)—As civic discourse and social cohesion continue to face considerable headwinds amid worsening political polarization in the United States, PEN America today endorsed the reintroduction of the Building Civic Bridges Act by Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06) and Andy Barr (R-KY-06).

The Building Civic Bridges Act seeks to address political polarization and fragmentation by amending the National and Community Service Act to establish the Office of Civic Bridgebuilding within the existing Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

The Office’s mandate would include administering grants to support civic bridgebuilding programs across the country; supporting the training of AmeriCorps members in civic bridgebuilding skills and techniques; and supporting research on civic bridgebuilding, civic engagement, and social cohesion.

“Free expression thrives best across difference,” said Laura Schroeder, Congressional Affairs lead at PEN America. “The Building Civic Bridges Act’s support of community-based organizations at the forefront of repairing societal breaches and restoring the essential role of healthy and inclusive dialogue in public life would be a welcome step in affirming the constructive promise of free expression for all citizens in our democratic society, regardless of their background. PEN America applauds and wholeheartedly supports this unifying legislation.”

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at pen.org.

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], (201) 247-5057