Polls suggest Americans’ faith in democracy has taken a nosedive, but a group of seven social enterprises are working to rebuild trust and encourage civic engagement in our communities around the country.
New Profit, a venture philanthropy organization that funds social entrepreneurs, has created a new grant program, Civic Lab, to help these nonprofits in their mission. “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?” Yordanos Eyoel, a New Profit partner overseeing the program, told Fast Company. “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.”
The cohort of seven “democracy entrepreneurs” chosen for Civic Lab will receive one-year unrestricted grants of $50,000 as well as a year of strategic capacity-building support from New Profit. They include:
Sarah Audelo of the Alliance for Youth Organizing, which focuses on youth-led advocacy efforts, including youth voter registration and promoting progressive policies like higher minimum wages and police reform;
Katie Fahey’s organization, The People, dedicated to building a nonpartisan coalition of reform-minded Americans to end practices like gerrymandering and voter suppression;
Rev. Gregory Holston, founder of POWER, which brings together faith-based communities to support criminal justice reform, improved educational opportunities, healthcare and other causes;
Emily Cherniack, whose New Politics Academy trains citizens with a history of service—such as veterans and ex-Peace Corps members—to run for political office;
Darrell Scott, founder of PushBlack, which sends stories and news articles about black history to a text database of about 4 million subscribers while encouraging voter mobilization;
Steven Olikara, leader of the Millennial Action Project, which seeks to break down partisan divides among young people and works across the aisle to push for legislation that supports entrepreneurship, skills training and technological advancement; and
Kashif Shaikh’s Pillars Fund, which invests in Muslim-American leaders and encourages civic engagement and communication in Muslim communities around the U.S.
Civic Lab chose the grant recipients from a pipeline of 150 organizations “based on the leaders’ deep insights into the problems they aim to solve, innovative solutions for addressing these problems, track record of success, potential for growth, alignment with New Profit’s support model, and a vision for systemic change,” according to a New Profit press release.