Democracy in the U.S., you may have noticed, has found itself on shaky ground. According to polling from last year, less than half of people in the country feel the current political system is effective at upholding their rights, and few people believe that elected officials are adequately held accountable for misconduct and failings.
This is not a great situation, and a number of organizations and nonprofits have recently launched in an attempt to address the root causes of the U.S.’s democracy dilemma. From voter turnout to government reform efforts to recruiting new and diverse leadership for local politics, activists and leaders are building new avenues out of some of the most pressing issues in the U.S. The problem, though, is that because nonprofits are supposed to cut a wide berth around partisan politics, they often struggle to get philanthropic funding if their projects touch on the political.
New Profit, a venture philanthropy organization that funds social entrepreneurs, recognized this issue. Through a new grant program specifically for organizations addressing democracy issues called Civic Lab, New Profit selected seven nonprofits trying to build trust across communities and reengage people in democratic processes. “There’s a lot of money being poured into partisan political engagement or activism, but what does it look like to do that in a nonpartisan way?” says Yordanos Eyoel, a partner at New Profit who is overseeing Civic Lab. “We want to build civic trust and a strong civic culture in the country, and doing that requires building relationships across politics, demographics, and geography.”
Seven democracy entrepreneurs that New Profit selected from a pool of around 150 potential candidates have been identified by the nonprofit. Each will receive a grant of $50,000, and a year of support from New Profit to grow the reach and impact of their organization.