Frequently Asked Questions about One Small Step - StoryCorps
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is One Small Step?

One Small Step brings strangers with different political beliefs together to record a 50-minute conversation — not to debate politics — simply to get to know each other as people. Root in contact theory, the goal of OSS is to reduce political polarization by making these kinds of conversations across the divide normal again. We are currently focused in four Model Communities and we partner with a handful of public radio stations each year that implement their own OSS initiatives. In 2024, we will scale OSS nationwide with the public launch of our new digital platform, One Small Step Connect, which allows anyone, anywhere to be matched for a conversation. To date, more than 4,500 people in 40 U.S. states have taken part.

How is One Small Step connected to StoryCorps?

OSS is one of StoryCorps’ most important initiatives. We piloted the initiative in 2017 and launched it in 2021. The initiative uses StoryCorps’ tested and trusted methods for encouraging meaningful conversations and sharing individual stories that empower everyday people to bridge divides. 

How do I participate?

Select your region and click the Apply Now“”” button to complete our matching questionnaire. It only takes 5-7 minutes to complete the questionnaire which allows us to match you with someone who has different political beliefs, but with whom you also have something in common.  

What happens after I’ve filled out the matching questionnaire?

Matching takes time! If you’re in one of our Model Communities or a Radio Station Hub community, we will reach out to schedule a conversation, once we have a match for you. If you live elsewhere and choose to participate through OSS Connect, we will email you potential matches to review. You can choose to accept and schedule as many conversations as you like.

How do conversations take place?

If you live in or near one of our Model Communities or Radio Station Hubs, your conversation will be guided by a staff member and take place either in person or virtually. If you live elsewhere in the country, you can access our digital platform OSS Connect and participate in a virtual conversation. 

What is a One Small Step Model Community?

The One Small Step team provides robust programming in three Model Communities across the country — Columbus, GA; Richmond, VA; and Wichita, KS. Through our work in these communities, we are learning more about how to make OSS a success and how we can scale the effort nationwide. If you live in or near these communities, you are likely to be matched for a facilitated conversation with someone from your community.

What is a One Small Step Radio Station Hub?

Each year, we partner with a handful of public radio stations that implement One Small Step in their communities and help expand access to OSS nationwide. The stations recruit participants, facilitate conversations, and air stories locally. Our 2023 radio station partners are KRCB in Sonoma County/North Bay, CA; WVPE in South Bend Elkart; WERU in Blue Hill, ME; KUOW in Seattle, WA; and KHOL in Jackson, WY.

What is One Small Step Connect and how does it work?

Now in beta testing, OSS Connect is our new digital platform that allows anyone, anywhere to participate in an OSS conversation. OSS Connect matches you with someone who has different political beliefs, for a self-facilitated video call conversation (audio-only recording). We provide you with matches, then you choose your partner(s) and schedule a conversation — all with guidance and tips along the way from us. When you fill out our matching questionnaire to opt in for OSS Connect, you will see an option to opt in to OSS Connect if you are not located in an OSS Model Community or Radio Station Hub region.

What is the difference between facilitated and self-facilitated conversations?

A “facilitated” conversation includes a facilitator who guides the conversation process. 

A “self-facilitated” conversation is self-directed and conducted through our One Small Step Connect platform. This virtually guided experience is supported by a robust set of resources to help you have a rewarding and successful conversation experience. 

Can I participate from anywhere in the United States?

You can join One Small Step from anywhere in the U.S. Those who live near Model Communities and Radio Station Hubs have the opportunity to be paired with a local conversation partner. Those who live elsewhere, or have already had a facilitated conversation, can access OSS Connect to be matched with potential partners from all over the U.S.

Will my One Small Step conversation be shared publicly?

An audio recording of your conversation will be uploaded to the Library of Congress and to the StoryCorps Archive. You and your conversation partner can decide together if you want to make your conversation public or private. If you choose to make your conversation public, we may decide to use snippets from your conversation in short animations that we share broadly through social media, on our website, and on our partners’ digital outlets. Learn more about privacy/visibility settings on the Archive.

What does StoryCorps do with the information I share in the One Small Step questionnaire?

Your privacy matters. Your data helps us to match you with the right partner so you have a satisfying conversation, but we are careful to limit the amount of information we share on your behalf. Read the information on your matching questionnaire carefully to understand what information is shared with potential conversation partners (this includes a short biography you provide about yourself.). We encourage you to be thoughtful about sharing any personally identifiable information. Read more in our privacy policy.

How can I bring One Small Step to my organization?

If you represent a group or organization in one of our Model Communities or Radio Station Hubs communities, and you’d like to support our efforts, please email us at [email protected]. If you live outside our Model Communities or Radio Station Hubs communities, you can bring OSS to your community by using our DIY tools to create your own OSS-inspired program. 

I’m interested in becoming a part of this initiative. How can I volunteer?

One Small Step doesn’t offer volunteer roles, however, we welcome you to create your own StoryCorps-inspired project using our DIY tools.

Get Involved

One Small Step brings strangers with different political views together to record a 50-minute conversation—not to debate politics, but to learn more about who we are as people. 

Support StoryCorps and our One Small Step Initiative

Support the power of mending divides through listening and talking openly with each other by making a gift to StoryCorps today.


One Small Step is made possible by the generous support of The Hearthland Foundation, the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, The Marcus Foundation, the Walmart Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Fetzer Institute, Stand Together Trust, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Robins Foundation, New Pluralists, and Schwab Charitable Fund made possible by the generosity of Present Progressive Fund.

The Heartland Foundation
Fetzer Institute
Fetzer Stacked
Fetzer Stacked
corporation for public broadcasting
Fetzer Institute