Local Media Reform

Type of Activity: Project
Grantee: Common Cause
Amount: $125,000 in 2020

What is Common Cause?

Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. They work to create an open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.

Why do we think this project is important?

Driven by the conviction that nothing is more important to a functioning democracy than an informed and engaged public, Common Cause raised awareness about the decline in resources for news and media organizations, and developed long-term solutions to the crisis in local news. The decline of independent, local newspapers and news stations has resulted in communities lacking adequate sources of local news and information, which has a significant negative impact on the quality of our civic dialogue and democracy.

To address this, Common Cause advocated for increased government funding of local media to ensure journalists could continue to provide critical news and information, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding  supported public and community media of all kinds, newsrooms and reporting jobs at local commercial and nonprofit news outlets, and  investments to address the civic-information needs of communities.

Common Cause also worked to prevent ongoing media consolidation by opposing media mergers and advocating against pro-consolidation policies at the federal level. To further strengthen local media, Common Cause advanced policies and built coalitions at the state level.

How is Democracy Fund Voice supporting Common Cause?

In 2020, Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant of $125,000 to Common Cause.  

 

2020 Vote to Live Engagement Program

Type of Activity: Project
Grantee: Collective Future
Amount: $125,000 in 2020

What is Collective Future?

Collective Future is a 501c4 with a mission to increase civic engagement and political representation of Black communities. Collective Future takes direct action to ensure that equity and justice are represented in the democratic process so that Black political power is real and America delivers on its promise.

Why do we think this project is important?

Collective Future’s 2020 Vote to Live Engagement Program worked to address and amend challenges associated with low voter turnout across Black communities. Through their 2020 Vote To Live campaign, Collective Future engaged Black voters during the 2020 election with strategic outreach to historically Black colleges and universities, sororities/fraternities, and faith communities, as well as conducted a first-of-its-kind voter engagement program utilizing cultural artists and influencers to gamify civic engagement.

How is Democracy Fund Voice supporting Collective Future?

In 2020, Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant of $125,000 to Collective Future.

Arizona Advocacy Network

Type of Activity: General Operating Support
Grantee: Arizona Advocacy Network
Amount: $150,000 in 2020

What is the Arizona Advocacy Network?

Arizona Advocacy Network (AZAN) works to build a truly representative political system in which all Arizonans make their voices heard. They believe the cornerstones of such a democracy include meaningful voting rights and fair access to the ballot, political decisions that are driven by voters instead of by financial influence, and a fair and independent judiciary. To make this vision a reality, AZAN builds strong pro-democracy coalitions, educates the public about the state of our democracy and what can be done to strengthen it, and advocates to policymakers for reform.

Why do we think this organization is important?

AZAN focuses on voting rights, money in politics, and fair courts. They work with partner organizations, legislators, election officials, and other key stakeholders to strengthen voting and elections in Arizona. They are fighting back against voter suppression tactics and advocating to modernize outdated election rules that keep citizens from voting. AZAN plays an important role in advocating for policy change that results more robust election administration, increased civic engagement, and more accessible elections, which Democracy Fund Voice believes are critical to a healthy democracy.

How is Democracy Fund Voice supporting Arizona Advocacy Network?

In 2020, Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant of $150,000 to Arizona Advocacy Network.

Vote Mama Action Fund

Type of Activity: General Operating Support
Grantee: Vote Mama Action Fund
Amount: $100,000 in 2020 over two years

What is the Vote Mama Action Fund?

The Vote Mama Action Fund is a 501(c)4 organization working in partnership with the 501(c)3 Vote Mama Foundation to achieve gender equity by breaking down barriers for working mothers to run for elected office, winning universal childcare for all Americans, and expanding the use of campaign funds for childcare for all candidates running for office. Specifically, the Vote Mama Action Fund advocates to pass family-friendly legislation and legislation that removes the barriers mothers face while running for office.

Why do we think this organization is important?

Less than 5 percent of congressional representatives are mothers of children under eighteen. While anyone taking care of children will face difficulties when it comes to the full-time job of campaigning, women are fifteen times more likely than men to be responsible for a majority of childcare. From this cultural pressure to logistical hurdles, like a lack of affordable childcare while candidates are campaigning, there are extraordinary barriers that must be overcome if women with children wish to run for office. Research indicates that removal of those barriers will strengthen the representation of working families across the country, lead to the passing of more family-friendly legislation, and help our society to better prioritize children and families.

The first steps of the Vote Mama Action Fund are launching a movement to codify the use of campaign funds for childcare at all levels of government in all fifty states by 2023, and expanding awareness of the use of campaign funds for childcare to empower mothers to run for office and win. Since piloting their movement, the use of campaign funds for childcare has been approved in seventeen states. Vote Mama Action Fund is currently partnering with legislators and candidates in ten states, with a goal of expanding campaign funds for childcare to twenty-seven states in 2021.

How is Democracy Fund Voice supporting Vote Mama Action Fund?

In 2020, Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant of $100,000 over two years to Vote Mama Action Fund.

Rebuilding the National Security Workforce

Type of Activity: Project
Grantee: Truman National Security Project
Amount: $180,000 in 2020

What is the Truman National Security Project?

Truman National Security Project is a nationwide membership of diverse leaders inspired to serve in the aftermath of 9/11 and committed to shaping and advocating for tough, smart national security solutions. They bring their members together with their partners and advisors to deliver concrete solutions to pressing global challenges for leaders at the local, state, and national levels, and coordinate their action nationwide to shape the debate, fight for policy change, and support rising leaders who share their values.

Why do we think this project is important?

For the U.S. to restore its leadership abroad, it must repair the national security workforce at home. The long-term goal of this project is to engage in and lead robust efforts to further this rebuilding. Truman National Security Project’s vision for rebuilding the national security workforce prioritizes attracting and retaining diverse, world-class talent in reformed structures that are welcoming homes for creative problem-solvers dedicated to the American project. However, these efforts will require a sustained effort over multiple years to rebuild the structures that have been allowed to disintegrate over the course of decades.

To accomplish this, Truman National Security Project created and maintained a sophisticated database of eligible members by function, agency, and clearance level to serve as a resource in 2021. A taskforce of Truman members was also built to support diversity efforts. They focused on implementation efforts and policy recommendations, the construction of a long-term strategy to support continued repair and growth, and on structured plans that support diversity, equity, and inclusion goals.

Effective policymaking relies on a diplomatic and national security corps that can both provide accurate information quickly and implement policies successfully. The quality of governance in our democracy depends on this resource, and it deserves the attention and resources required to reach its maximum potential.

How is Democracy Fund Voice supporting the Truman National Security Project?  

In 2020, Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant of $180,000 to the Truman National Security Project.

The Partnership for a New American Economy Action Fund

Type of Activity: General Operating Support
Grantee: The Partnership for a New American Economy Action Fund
Amount: $200,000 in 2020

What is the New American Economy Action Fund?

New American Economy Action Fund (NAE) is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization founded in 2010 to educate, empower, and support business leaders, policymakers, and citizens across the country who see the economic and social benefits of immigration. Since their founding, they have built a network of business, civic, and cultural leaders spanning both sides of the political aisle and active across all 50 states.

Their current work focuses on creating better immigration policies, changing the narrative of immigrants in the United States throughout all types of communities, and leveraging their bipartisan network to decrease polarization.

Why do we think this organization is important?

Democracy Fund Voice supports NAE’s efforts to empower local leaders to promote pluralism and overcome polarization to find solutions that benefit their communities. As polarization has dramatically increased in the United States, the broad issue of immigration has been used as a tool to further divide Americans. NAE’s work is centered around more than just changing immigration policy; they foster tough conversations among people of all ideologies around identity and values. Their approach creates a space among conservatives for dialogue around immigration as well as the values of diversity, inclusion, equity, and pluralism.

In addition to the national conversation, NAE works with local leaders to collaborate and make progress on issues that national policymakers are unable to. These initiatives fight polarization by uniting communities around tough issues like immigration, and NAE provides guidance through customized research, storytelling, coalition-building, and technical assistance in dozens of communities across the country.

How is Democracy Fund Voice supporting the New American Economy Action Fund?

In 2020, Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant of $200,000 to the New American Economy Action Fund.

Media Reform

Type of Activity: Project
Grantee: The GroundTruth Project
Amount: $50,000

What is The GroundTruth Project?

GroundTruth’s mission is to restore journalism from the ground up by supporting the next generation of journalists through field reporting that serves under-covered corners of the United States and the world. They work to build a pipeline of talent for emerging journalists, restore faith in the industry by supporting in-depth public service reporting, and to serve as watchdogs where no one seems to be watching.

They provide educational opportunities in the form of training seminars, forums, conferences, and workshops, in addition to publishing critical information and storytelling on a variety of urgent issues.

Why do we think this project is important?

Even before COVID-19, local news organizations were struggling. The number of reporters had declined 60 percent since 2000, the same scale of collapse as local industry. Some 1,800 communities have no local news source at all.

With a primary goal of creating a national public strategy for public policies that will rebuild local news, The GroundTruth Project created a powerful new coalition — Rebuild Local News — that  brought together a broad collection of stakeholders, developed ambitious policy proposals, advocated for public policies, initiated grassroots campaigns, and lobbied Congressional staff. Once their plan was developed, published, and shared publicly, The GroundTruth Project focused on raising awareness of the plan among legislative staff, legislators, and the media. If a public policy framework were adopted and implemented, it has the potential to lead to a substantial increase in income for nonprofit local media and locally-owned for-profit media. This would result in a local media system that better represents its residents, including communities of color, which have been historically underserved.

Local news organizations are necessary for the health of a democracy, as they connect constituents with the legislators and officials who often have the most direct impact on their daily lives. By providing information about local government affairs they help communities increase their civic engagement, and by investigating problems or uncovering corruption, local news organizations serve as a watchdog for issues that might otherwise be overlooked. Local news is an important component of a national democracy, and should be treated as such through national public policies.

How is Democracy Fund Voice supporting The GroundTruth Project?

In 2020, Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant of $50,000 to The GroundTruth Project.

Trusted Elections Action Fund

Type of Activity: Project
Grantee: Trusted Elections Action Fund
Amount: $1,680,000 in 2020

What is the Trusted Elections Action Fund?

The Trusted Elections Action Fund is a fiscally sponsored project of Sixteen Thirty Fund. As a pooled fund with a grantmaking focus, it was created to move resources quickly to address election-related threats to the integrity of our election system. The grants made by the Fund support organizations fighting to ensure free and fair elections, and to protect the rule of law.

Why do we think this project is important?

Created in 2019, the Trusted Elections Action Fund supported preparations for, and responses to, high-risk threats to the integrity of our election. The U.S. faced significant threats to the integrity of the November 2020 elections. Some of these threats — natural disasters or higher-than-expected turnout — have long been considered by election administrators, experts, and advocacy groups. Novel threats, such as Election Day violence or foreign interference, presented new challenges for those fighting to promote trust in our elections while preventing significant threats to the rule of law.

The Trusted Elections Action Fund partnered closely with the National Task Force on Election Crises (run by Protect Democracy), a bipartisan task force of national security, civil rights, election administration, and legal experts that worked to identify the greatest potential risks for the 2020 election. The pooled resources coordinated by the Fund helped ensure that potential election-related crises were identified and that strategies were developed to prevent, mitigate or respond to those crises.

Grants from the Fund were made during two phases of activity; the first extended from April to September 2020 and focused on preventing crises from impacting the election and preparing the infrastructure needed to respond. The second phase extended from September 2020 to January 2021 and focused on rapid response.

How is Democracy Fund Voice supporting Trusted Elections Action Fund?

In 2020, Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant of $1,680,000 to the Trusted Elections Action Fund.

Election Security and Resiliency

Type of Activity: Project
Grantee: Public Citizen
Amount: $675,000 in 2020 over two years

What is Public Citizen?

Public Citizen is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that works to address the growing power gap between everyday people and concentrated power in the hands of corporate and government actors. They approach this issue through a combination of congressional advocacy, litigation, research, and grassroots advocacy.

Why do we think this project is important?

Public Citizen is a key leader in a diverse coalition of groups working to secure our elections. This grant supported the coalition’s efforts to advance election security reforms and ensure appropriate resources for states to improve their election security posture.

The Election Security and Resiliency project coordinated coalition advocacy and built grassroots political power in support of election funding. Public Citizen recruited new strategic voices into coalition and lobbying meetings, provided forums for groups to learn and get invested, and provided materials to allow new coalition partners to engage. Methods utilized included virtual townhalls, drive-ins, petitions, letters to the editor, in-district lobbying, and days of action with coordinated email blasts, social media, and calls.

Public Citizen also reached out to local Republican officials to call on Congress for additional elections funding. In addition to support for additional funding, this project supported states in expanding vote by mail, early voting processes, and security best practices. By insisting on the ability of election officials to use the funds to follow best practices that are appropriate to each state, major strides were made to protect voters from hacks, errors, and COVID-19 in 2020, while making elections more resilient and accessible for years to come.

How is Democracy Fund Voice supporting Public Citizen?

In 2020, Democracy Fund Voice approved a two-year grant of $675,000 to Public Citizen.

Defensive Democracy Advocacy

Type of Activity: Project
Grantee: SiX Action
Amount: $300,000 in 2020 over two years

What is SiX Action?

SiX Action is an independent, nonpartisan 501(c)4 strategy and advocacy organization that works to secure real, lasting reforms that support working families, protect the environment, defend civil rights and liberties, and strengthen our democracy. They accomplish this through issue advocacy, support around messaging and political strategy, and engagement with state legislators, progressive leaders, and state and national advocates.

Why do we think this project is important?

The Defensive Democracy Advocacy project pushed back against a variety of voter suppression tactics that resulted in targeted obstacles to voting and registration, and the abuse of redistricting for political and personal gain. The project focused on Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina due to these states’ histories on voting registration requirements.

In addition to pro-voter policy advocacy, the Defensive Democracy Advocacy project developed and offered cross-state resources, virtual learning opportunities, and technical assistance to legislators. These resources included education for legislators about post-election crisis scenarios, and how they could support peaceful resolutions, transitions, and reform in 2021. Briefings or materials covered post-election crisis scenarios (e.g. disputed vote counting and rampant post-election misinformation); the role of state legislators in the selection of presidential electors and legal ambiguities; and messaging guidance to help legislators navigate different crisis scenarios.

How is Democracy Fund Voice supporting SiX Action?

In 2020, Democracy Fund Voice approved a two-year grant of $300,000 to SiX Action.