Mission and Vision


The Touchstones® Vision
Touchstones believes in a world where people of all backgrounds, beliefs, and ideologies engage in mindful and collaborative discussion to address complex local and global issues.
Our Mission
Touchstones builds critical thinking, communication, and leadership skills through respectful and engaging discussion-based programs.
Participants in Touchstones sit in a circle.

Participants in Touchstones sit in a circle.

The Touchstones Discussion Project was founded in 1984 to build essential communication, thinking, and leadership skills among U.S. students. First used in K-12 classes in urban schools and researched in Pittsburgh and Delaware, Touchstones’ proven results and highly engaging format made it an attractive tool among adult groups as well. Through our train-the-trainer technique and fully developed program curricula, Touchstones is readily picked up by educators and community leaders around the world to empower the populations they serve. In Touchstones, participants find their voice and their dignity, experience the value of their own thinking, and discover a sense of belonging and purpose.

How Touchstones Works

Touchstones programs:

  • Feature short texts from classical and contemporary sources as tools for exploration
  • Strengthen group cooperative learning
  • Engage participants of all abilities and economic backgrounds to unlock hidden potential
  • Foster active listening and close reading through more than 35 Touchstones volumes
  • Reveal underlying cultural assumptions and participant presuppositions
  • Incorporate individual and group evaluation for deepened understanding and development
  • Encourage appreciation of and application of multiple perspectives in problem solving
  • Offer nearly three decades of proven outcomes in socio-emotional and cognitive growth
  • Reach hundreds of thousands of underserved people

Touchstones reaches people all over the world. In addition to the tens of thousands of U.S. schools using Touchstones today, our highly transportable programs are in more than 38 countries on six continents, and program materials have been translated into six languages for use in schools, colleges and universities, executive development, community and senior centers, NGOs and governmental agencies, and with the incarcerated. The lives of 5,000,000 participants and counting have been transformed through the activity of Touchstones discussions.

Touchstones is a social venture non-profit organization. All charitable contributions received go entirely to Touchstones programming with underserved populations or to ensure that funding is never a barrier to program implementation—either at home or abroad. Some programs are operated directly by Touchstones, some by Touchstones volunteers, and others by national and international partners we select to advance our mission. But all Touchstones programs share the same mission: to build critical thinking, communication, and leadership skills through respectful and engaged discussion-based programs.

A prisoner participates in Touchstones.

A prisoner participates in
Touchstones.

A student at Annapolis  Middle School.

A student at Annapolis
Middle School.

A Touchstones discussion  with seniors.

A Touchstones discussion
with seniors.

A teacher at a training in  Jordan.

A teacher at a training in
Jordan.