In 1981, the Virginia Forum organized a volunteer citizen think tank to communicate quality of life concerns to the residents of their state in a cost-effective program capitalizing on latent print media power (contained in daily and weekly editorial pages).
In 1984, the Virginia Forum expanded its program to include news reports transmitted over the AP and UPI wire services to the print media and “guest editorials” and news items for radio and TV stations throughout the state. By the end of the year, the Forum was obtaining an average print circulation of 400,000 and over 500,000 listeners/viewers via radio and TV. The Forum reorganized and became American Forum to assist citizens in other states to initiate a similar program.
North Carolina was the first target state, organized in the fall of 1984. In January 1985, the North Carolina Editorial Forum published its first article, quickly demonstrating that the model developed in Virginia could indeed work in other states.
Since incorporating, American Forum has grown to include Forums in southern and midwestern states now including: AANational Alabama Arizona Arkansas Colorado Florida Georgia Illinois Iowa Kentucky Louisiana Massachusetts Minnesota Mississippi Missouri New Mexico North Carolina Ohio South Carolina Tennessee Texas Virginia Washington Wisconsin . The state Forums help spread the word on hundreds of issues including health care, childcare, education, voters rights and many others.
1981: Virginia volunteer activists form citizen think tank to communicate quality-of-life concerns
1982: Virginia Forum incorporated
1984: Virginia Forum expands to include news reports transmitted over the AP and UPI wire
1984: American Forum begins
1984: North Carolina becomes the first targeted state
1986: Georgia Forum distributes its first packet
1987: Florida Forum begins publishing
1987: South Carolina Forum publishes its first article
1988: Tennessee Editorial Forum distributes its first media packet
1989: Alabama Forum has its first meeting.
1992: American Forum moves to the National Press Building
1994: American Forum’s online presence is felt
1997: Midwest Strategy Meeting is held
1998: Midwest Expansion begins
2001: Working Groups form to target specific issues
2001: American Forum goes on the net with streaming media
2001: 1000th article is published