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400 Programs

1,300 Staff Members 

20,000 Volunteer Mediators

400,000 Case Referrals 

900,000 Service Recipients 

Community Mediation within the United States 

The breadth and diversity of the community mediation field is extensive. Programs diverge on nearly every measure of structural and programmatic design, including their financial resources; staffing arrangements and size; integration of volunteers; service capacity, diversity, and focus; collaborative partnerships; outcome objectives; and much more. The field contains a diverse collection of organizations, professionals, and skilled volunteers. It encompasses entities with 40-plus-year tenures and recent start-up programs. It benefits equally from the wisdom of decades-long Executive Directors and the vitality of new hires. It contains an enormous league of volunteer mediators who partner their own wonderful diversity with state-of-the-field mediation training to serve those in conflict. It represents not only the variability found within the broader dispute resolution landscape, but also the many communal heterogeneities the field tirelessly serves.

While embracing and encouraging this diversity, the community mediation field contours itself and stands united through a number of shared tenets. These characteristics of community mediation programs, originally outlined by NAFCM over a decade ago, represent the core ideals motivating the field’s continued existence and community service. These shared tenets identify community mediation programs as characterized by and/or committed to:
    1. A private nonprofit or public agency or program thereof, with mediators, staff, and a governing/advisory board representative of the diversity of the community served;
    2. The use of trained community volunteers as providers of mediation services, with the practice of mediation open to all persons;
    3. Providing direct access to the public through self-referral and striving to reduce cultural, economic, linguistic, physical, and programmatic barriers to service; 
    4. Providing service to clients regardless their ability to pay;
    5. Providing service and hiring without discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, race, color, religion, gender, age, disabilities, national origin, marital status, personal appearance, gender and/or sexual orientation, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, source of income, or other important local measures of communal diversity;
    6. Providing a forum for dispute resolution and engagement at the earliest stages of conflict;
    7. Providing an alternative to the judicial system at any stage of a conflict;
    8. Advocating, initiating, facilitating, and serving as a resource for collaborative community relationships to effect positive systemic change; and
    9. Engaging in public awareness and educational activities about the values and practices of mediation.
Thoughtfully constructed and widely ascribed, it is the adherence to and steady striving toward these characteristics that unite the eclectic collection of programs, professionals, and volunteers comprising the community mediation field. Within this aspirational framework, community mediation has grown from a small collection of organizations to an evolving field of approximately 400 U.S.-based programs, 1,300 full-time equivalent staff members, and over 20,000 volunteer mediators. Growth beyond national boundaries expands the field even further and likely doubles or more the total number of programs which stand ready to constructively engage, manage, resolve, or transform conflicts of nearly every imaginable manifestation.

Within its current form, the community mediation field is a veritable one-stop-shop for all things conflict-related. It has evolved, extended, and engrained itself within hundreds of communities as the resolution choice of increasingly earlier resort. And while the availability of any particular service and capacity of each specific program varies significantly, collectively, the community mediation field contains the expertise and enterprise to engage both the everyday and the extraordinary with similarly constructive effects.

   Discussion Prompt:
      What are your impressions
      of the field's breadth & reach?

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