Our Mission

Bringing under-heard voices to the center of a stronger public dialogue
We believe civic life can be revitalized when we hold space for disagreement and diversity, recognizing that traditionally under-heard voices and marginal experiences can yield powerful understanding. From our fragmented public sphere, we can construct a mosaic of democracy. Together.
What we value
Authentic voices
Diverse perspectives
Community-first approach
Transparent process
Measurable impact
How we work
A non-profit 501(c)(3)
Cortico brings together human listening and machine learning to fuel public processes and community decision-making.
Founding Ideas

Cortico was born in 2016 out of a desire to transform our polarized and toxic national discourse into a thriving public sphere. Influential research into the spread of true and false information online inspired Cortico’s commitment to building technology that connects communities, fosters understanding, and creates meaningful change.

Technology in Service of Community

As we built the organization beginning with deep expertise in media and technology, we realized that building a healthier public sphere would require not just software and data analytics, but also hardware and technologies for community building.

Unique Collaborations

Our continued collaboration with the MIT Center for Constructive Communication keeps us on the leading edge of technological innovation.

Our research agenda also builds on our multifaceted investment in Dane County, Wisconsin and research partnerships with the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

CCC & Cortico
Bringing people & technology together

Cortico collaborates closely with MIT Center for Constructive Communication (CCC), an interdisciplinary center based at the MIT Media Lab that explores and addresses the destructive effects of deepening social fragmentation in America. CCC brings together humanists and technologists at the faculty, student, and staff level to design human-machine systems that improve communication across divides and increase opportunity for underheard communities to make their voices heard on important issues that affect their everyday lives.

CCC & Cortico
Bringing people & technology together
Theory of Change
Our democracy is in danger
  • Americans don’t trust the media, the government, or one another.
  • Appealingly simple solutions to complex problems are amplified and repeated.
  • Superficial stories and loud voices drown out meaningful discourse and perpetuate inequities.
Small group, facilitated conversation strengthens community
  • People share the full story of their complex lives and how they experience intersections of issues.
  • The process builds relationships, fosters trust, invites creativity and generates pro-social, solution-oriented action.
Small conversations are difficult to scale
  • Their impact can be lost in the din and drama of polarized media and fake news.
  • Those outside of the conversation may not trust their authenticity.
  • The experience can be dismissed as an outlier rather than a possible norm.
Human-centered technology brings efficiency to the process of gathering and amplifying insights
  • Perspectives and stories can be shared within and across conversations for engagement and deepened awareness.
  • Conversations can be distilled into themes or amplified to transform public understanding and policy.
Stronger communities and a healthier democracy
  • Under-heard voices move to the center.
  • Complexity and nuance replace reductive, inaccurate stereotypes
  • Authentic storytelling channels fuel more accurate, accountable media.
  • More equitable access to public engagement processes build meaningful feedback loops for public officials.