As Democracy Fund and Democracy Fund Voice prepare for the next five years, our teams have been asking hard questions about how we can best leverage our assets to meet the greatest needs of the field. We still have work to do, but I’m excited to share that we’ve made great progress in setting our new direction.
We are committed to achieving an inclusive, multi-racial democracy that is open, just, resilient, and trustworthy. This long-term vision for the future requires:
- A just and inclusive society that has reckoned with structural racism,
- Equitable participation, voice, and power for communities of color,
- Representative and accountable political institutions, and
- Vibrant and equitable information ecosystems that meet the civic needs of communities.
If Democracy Fund and its allies are going to make progress toward these goals, we must first acknowledge that we are in a fight that threatens the fabric of our nation. While our democracy has long been profoundly and intentionally broken, today’s authoritarian actors further pervert the system to entrench their power and put the fundamental nature of our democracy at risk. The stakes before us are remarkably high.
Going forward, Democracy Fund will strengthen and expand the pro-democracy movement with a focus on the power and leadership of communities of color. We will weaken, dismantle, and defend against those who threaten our republic and oppose the ideals of an inclusive, multi-racial democracy. And we will pursue structural changes that can lock in new dynamics in this struggle.
Over the next year and a half we will move toward this new direction by refreshing existing portfolios and launching new ones. Over time, you’ll see us:
- Move from Incrementalism to Transformation. The depth to which our system is broken means that incremental change simply cannot get us to where we need to go. We will launch new initiatives and explorations aimed at shifting the fundamental dynamics of the system over the long term. We will explore how we can create a more representative, majoritarian political system, while we continue to support a healthier information environment.
- Defend Core Democratic Institutions. While we have our sights set on long-term, transformational change, we cannot ignore the threats that are right in front of us. We will strengthen our election system and put in place safeguards against abuses of power. We will learn from the experience of others who have successfully defended against authoritarian actors and explore ways to weaken and fragment the power centers of those who oppose an inclusive, multi-racial democracy.
- Center Racial Justice. We cannot achieve an open and just democracy without also achieving racial justice. All of our initiatives — from elections to journalism to government accountability — will continue their journey to embody a commitment to racial equity. We will expand our Just & Inclusive Society program, including our initiative to support and empower the immigrant and Black, Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (BAMEMSA) communities, along with a new effort to support movement and power building among communities of color. We will explore opportunities to ensure our nation’s leadership reflects the diversity of the country.
- Rally the Field to Step Up to the Moment. The challenges our democracy faces are great, and Democracy Fund’s resources pale in comparison. To defend against these existential threats, we will scale up our work dedicated to encouraging other philanthropists to join us in these efforts — with a significant focus on combating attempts to subvert our election system.
Our organization has learned a tremendous amount since we began our journey. We have had the privilege of standing alongside others in the fight to protect our democracy. They have pushed us to deepen our understanding of the foundational injustices of our system and to recognize the moment of opportunity also inherent in our current crisis.
Now is the time to redouble our efforts for our democracy. We must slow and eventually halt the precipitous backsliding we’ve experienced — and make real progress toward a brighter future.