New Grants Initiative Invests in Strengthening the Fabric of Democracy and Civil Society

Dec. 13, 2021
New Grants Initiative Invests in Strengthening the Fabric of Democracy and Civil Society
Members of the Amazon Sacred Headwaters Initiative at COP26 in 2021. Photo courtesy of Amazon Sacred Headwaters Initiative

A diverse cohort of 15 organizations was recently awarded grants by the Henry Luce Foundation—part of a new initiative to identify and support work in the areas of Democracy, Ethics and Public Trust. Building upon the Luce Foundation’s long-standing support of public knowledge, this new exploratory effort supports organizations and projects working to understand, foster, and strengthen the underlying fabric of democracy and civil society.

Complementing the work of many U.S. based funders concerned with the mechanics of democracy, this initiative focuses on democratic and communal practices that foster shared purpose, resilience, trust, and a sense of belonging. Members of this inaugural cohort share an ethical orientation and a desire to expand our collective capacity to envision new models of social organization and governance that are more just and equitable.

Totaling almost $4 million in support, these awards will advance work in the fields of civic engagement, effective governance, racial justice, Indigenous sovereignty in U.S. and global contexts, journalism, labor, land reform and climate change advocacy, and digital democracy. Grantees include research centers in higher education institutions, international NGOs, arts and community advocacy organizations, policy institutes, journalism networks, workers’ cooperatives, and indigenous collectives in Africa and Latin America.

The 15 grantees are creating and piloting new models of social organization and governance, building public trust in democracies, strengthening democratic practice, and increasing civic participation through community organization and empowerment. Supported projects include:

  • Amazon Sacred Headwaters Initiative, a bi-national collaboration representing a federation of over 30 Amazonian indigenous communities working to permanently protect more than 86 million acres of rainforest spanning Ecuador and Peru
  • Organization for Ethical Source (OES), an effort to empower online communities and foster democratic practices in digital spaces by ensuring that the work of open-source software developers is being used for social good and in service of human rights
  • The Documenters Network, a program by civic media organization City Bureau that will train people to participate in the production of local media by engaging in documentary practices as a part of civic life

The Luce Foundation received 267 concept notes from U.S. and non-U.S. based organizations in response to its call for ideas and invited 41 of these organizations to submit full proposals. Following careful consideration and in-depth conversations with applicants, Foundation staff selected 24 finalists for review by an expert advisory board with experience in related fields.

The final slate of 15 grantees constitute a diverse cohort from which the Foundation will learn a great deal. It is our hope that members of this cohort will, in turn, learn from one another as well.

Taken together, they represent different approaches to deep engagement with the intersecting challenges to democracy, equity, and public trust that have created deep divisions in communities and undermined their well-being. Their analyses of these challenges and the work they are undertaking to address seemingly intractable issues will help the Foundation as we continue to develop our own grantmaking strategy in this expansive area.

View All Democracy, Ethics, and Public Trust Grants

Democracy, Ethics, and Public Trust|Grants Announcement

Related News

Aug. 2, 2023Foundation News
New LuceSEA Grants Strengthen Connections between Scholars, Communities, and Disciplines
AsiaGrants Announcement
Jan. 6, 2023Foundation NewsIdeas & Reflections
Letter from the President: Building Resilient Networks
Democracy, Ethics, and Public TrustHigher Education
Dec. 26, 2022Grantee News
Musk’s Twitter Will Not Be the Town Square the World Needs
Democracy, Ethics, and Public Trust
See All