Community-Powered Understanding

Bringing underheard voices to the center of a stronger public dialogue

We’re Hiring!

What We Do
A new conversation platform

Cortico’s Local Voices Network (LVN) brings people together in recorded small-group conversations around their lived experiences.

Through a powerful combination of AI and human listening, LVN enables organizations to make sense of the conversations they collect, surfacing community voices into public dialogue and decision making – with authenticity, nuance, and transparency that surveys and focus groups cannot match.

LVN’s unique human-machine system is the product of an effort led by Cortico in cooperation with MIT’s Center for Constructive Communication.

Conversation participants
US states
Local & global partners
Media partners

Why We Do It
Building stronger civic spaces

The deterioration of social and institutional trust is accelerating; people in communities everywhere are tired of speaking up and not feeling heard.

Surveys and focus groups rarely capture the rich breadth of people’s lived experiences. Local in-person forums such as town halls and open meetings fall short as civic spaces, attracting the usual attendees in what are often inadequate efforts to capture the full range of community input.

These times demand better listening channels and stronger civic spaces where input shared by community members sparks more informed and transparent decisions from our leaders.

How It Works

Local Voices Network

LVN combines the analytic power of modern AI with the ancient techniques of human dialogue and listening. The collaboration between Cortico and MIT’s Center for Constructive Communication enables advanced research and prototypes to be integrated seamlessly into the LVN platform.


Partners host conversations on Zoom or in person that are recorded, uploaded, and transcribed on the platform.


AI-powered listening and analytic tools help users see patterns across conversations, identify themes, and highlight voices around what matters most in the community.

Share & Act

To surface these insights and voices into public dialogue and decision making, partners can share and publish excerpts through visualizations, public share links, downloadable audio, or iframe embed.

See How It Works

Watch this short demo of the LVN platform and contact us to learn more. We offer a range of options, including self-service access, human-led sense-making support, and co-learning opportunities with our collaborators at MIT’s Center for Constructive Communication. 

We’d love to talk to you about your project.

See How It Works

Our Partners

Surfacing underheard voices into the public sphere

Government agencies have used LVN to surface underheard citizen voices into the selection of Madison, WI’s police chief and an equity statement that speaks to all Chicago residents.

Community coalitions like RealTalk for Change Boston, a civic initiative designed to amplify the voices of Boston community members who are often underheard by current civic processes.

Advocacy initiatives like Reimagine Arkansas and 100 Days of Conversations About School have used LVN to amplify experiences of communities at the margins through powerful narratives and artist collaborations.

Local non-profits like Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness and United Way of Dane County have used LVN to listen to their stakeholders for strategic policy setting.

Newsrooms like the Tampa Bay Times and engagement journalism collaborations have used LVN to understand citizen agendas and include underheard voices in their reporting.

Global non-profit Junior Achievement Worldwide has used LVN to inform its strategic direction with diverse voices from its worldwide youth community.

Our Impact

Organizations work with us to host small-group conversations, preserve recordings, and make them useful for listening, learning, decision making, and public accountability.

Stories as decision-making input

“Working with Cortico taught us that anecdotes and stories have information in them that is community input. It’s real and it’s valid.”

Jacquelyn Boggess, Chairperson, Madison, WI Police and Fire Commission

Making sense of the moment

“LVN has supported us in making sense of the moment that we’re in, by offering … the ability to listen efficiently and economically, in a way that’s connected people across Arkansas.”

Sara Bishop, Founder, Reimagine Arkansas

Informing strategic direction

“Through LVN, we’re able to efficiently and powerfully invite our community of youth around the world to inform our strategic direction. LVN enables us to analyze and amplify youth voices and opinions from around the world in a way that traditional survey instruments and focus groups cannot do. ”

Asheesh Advani, CEO, Junior Achievement Worldwide
Absorbing community input

“As we engage the community and ask for feedback, the Local Voices Network has been a powerful tool to absorb and understand what residents across Cambridge are looking for in the next City Manager.”

Sumbul Siddiqui, Mayor, City of Cambridge, MA

Building trust in communities

“The LVN platform made it possible for us to address fundamental challenges in public engagement: building trust in marginalized communities to bring in their voices.”

Ceasar McDowell, MIT Professor of the Practice, Project Lead, RealTalk for Change Boston

Illuminating data on lived experiences

“The information that we collected with LVN is so rich. It helps us illuminate data points in a different way, communicating through people’s stories and experiences.”

Alia Stevenson, Chief Programs Officer, Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness

Student empowerment

“As we work to strengthen student voice in RSU 5, Cortico’s partnership has allowed our students to be empowered in leading positive change in their school culture in a way that is meaningful, collaborative and has led to increased student engagement.”

Dr. Becky J. Foley, Superintendent of Schools, RSU5 in Maine

Interpreting rich narratives

“Cortico tooling provides an engaging and intuitive mechanism for organizing, structuring, and interpreting rich narratives with efficiency … bolstering our capacity to identify shared goals and meaningful insights.”

Rachel Tache, Qualitative Researcher at Child Poverty Action Lab

Countering barriers to participation

“How may we redeem the elusive promise of self-government — amid digitally-amplified divisions and persistent barriers for so many to genuine participation? How encouraging to see LVN’s unique integration of thoughtful convening, human listening, and technological tools to elicit and foreground the hopes and concerns of people who otherwise would not be heard.”

Martha Minow, 300th Anniversary University Professor, Harvard University

Community engagement in reporting

“Our journalists learning that facilitation skill was huge for us because it helped put community engagement in practice and supported a shift from traditional reporting towards really connecting with communities.”

Jennifer Tufts, Project Manager, America Amplified

Connecting with new audiences

“Having the ability to use this incredible technology is such a boost for us to think about new ways to report, to identify innovative ways to reach people and connect with new audiences.”

Katie Dean, Executive Editor, Cap Times

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Cortico is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization led by a multidisciplinary team of experts in community engagement, technology and non-profit management. We strive to meld two elements not typically found in one space: technological innovation and community-centered advocacy. We’d love to keep you up to date on what we’re doing!