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The New Public Square

Reach NC Voices brings together online surveys and messaging tools to make connections. Through Reach NC Voices, we can collectively discuss public policy in real time and better understand communities across North Carolina.

Give it a try.

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Embed and share your real-time data

Reach’s toolkit includes interactive tools that can easily be shared on social media, encouraging broader engagement:

Reach engages a broader audience

In just six months, Reach’s chatbots and surveys have engaged over 500,000 North Carolinians, 33,000 of whom have taken deeper action by sharing 139,000 responses, comments, and stories.  

Two-thousand Reach users have opted in to an ongoing relationship with EdNC, subscribing to email and text dialogue.

Reach embedded survey on a story


Reach gathers data quickly

Reach targeting dashboard

Through Reach, in a matter of hours you can select a community to engage, begin gathering data, and generate a snapshot of community opinion.

Weekly snap polls have been a great example of this, moving from question generation to tangible insights within 24 hours.

Reach creates conversations

Participants in the initial online outreach can opt to share their contact information, and the Reach platform enables automated follow-up–creating direct conversations between leadership and participants.

Our goal is to empower citizens by first listening to them and then providing a tool for ongoing engagement. Over time, what we learn will provide decision makers with a better understanding of the lived reality of all North Carolinians.


Reach in action: Edgecombe County

This spring, Edgecombe County education leaders used Reach to inform a school improvement project at an area high school.

Dozens of students weighed in on the questions at hand. Many of these students voicing their concerns for the first time.

These students wanted increased agency in the decisions that affect their education.

Working with Reach, EdNC has embedded its reporters and researchers in Edgecombe County for the past year, which allowed us the credibility to engage in this work.

This fall we will survey Edgecombe educators to gauge their understanding of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). The Reach-based research will assist us with our own research around ACEs and assist education leaders with making decisions.

Reach in action: Building statewide understanding

Over 500,000 North Carolinians have been exposed to Reach NC Voices content. 33,000 of them have taken deeper action by sharing 139,000 responses.

In a survey to a community of 500 people, we asked them “What keeps you awake at night?” Their responses reveal their vulnerabilities and their fears as North Carolinians in 2017.

“Finances, and job security, always worrying about whether I will have a job the next day and how i dont have enough money to pay all my bills month to month, also bad insurance-I am afraid my child will get sick and I will not be able to afford to care for them due to our health insurance and the high deductibles, etc”

“My mother has cancer and the reactions that she experiences from chemo keep me up at night.”

“Paying for college for my kids, daily household expenses, and saving for retirement without going into debt is all but impossible.”

The goal? To create better understanding of North Carolinians, their hopes and their dreams.

To empower them by listening.

To encourage and facilitate ongoing engagement.

To amplify their stories, comments, and perspective.

Accelerate community engagement

With Reach, Duke Endowment can quickly gather a quick pulse on what’s working and what resonates. We believe that this process leads to much faster iteration and more responsive philanthropy.

That information can inform decisions and resource allocation in real-time, allowing leadership to iterate more quickly and drive real impact.

And tell our story

Photo Credit: Katie Keier (

In addition, Duke Endowment could partner with and the NC Center for Public Policy Research to share the stories and content that we uncover.

Sending this content back to those previously engaged helps create a vital engagement loop.



Imagine a classroom. The teacher poses a question to the class. A smattering of small hands go up. The teacher calls on one of the students. The student answers the question. Now imagine instead that the teacher asks the students to pull out their devices. She poses the question to all of the students via text. All of the students respond to her question. The teacher has more information to work with. All of her students are engaged.

Welcome to Reach NC Voices — the most robust engagement tool we know of. We can engage people in a classroom, in school, in a company, in a community. We can engage people that have never raised their hand. In six months, we have redefined the world’s concept of the public square.

James Carey, a journalist and communications theorist, said, “The press does not ‘inform’ the public. It is ‘the public’ that ought to inform the press. The true subject matter of journalism is the conversation the public is having with itself.” In the aftermath of the last election, it is important for the public to be heard, but it is more important for us to hear the public.


We have spent the last six months listening.

We’ve heard from a military mom in Onslow County who feels as if the school system ignores the reality that she feels as if she is a single mom due to her husband’s deployment. She wants to be able to participate in supports for single parent families.

We heard from a mother who shared, “My kids are all currently in college and they are great kids so my dreams for them are on track. What helped them to get to this point? Good teachers who took the time to meet each ones individual needs.” She went on to make the case for teaching assistants.

A student down East when asked about his summer plans replied, “I wanna help my mom with anything she needs so I’m going to get a job after school.”

These comments in isolation are powerful, but it is the aggregation of these voices over time that will help us create more understanding across North Carolina, to create more belonging, and ultimately to examine the trends that will define the next fifty years of North Carolina.

Lift up their voice 

Reach NC Voices allows us to listen to people across North Carolina, and lift up their voices into our news and traditional news outlets, to inform philanthropy and policymakers.