Stronger Democracy Award Grants $22 Million to Three Organizations

By ICONIQ Impact | July 7, 2022

The recipients of the Stronger Democracy Award are working to enhance transparency and accountability in local politics, build a robust multiparty democracy that represents all citizens, and cultivate a more engaged and informed voter base.  

Chicago, Illinois, July 7, 2022 –

Today, ICONIQ Impact, Lever for Change, and the sponsors of the Stronger Democracy Award—Additional Ventures, The Patchwork Collective, and philanthropists Cipora and Vlado Herman—announced the award’s three recipients.

 Launched in March 2021, the Stronger Democracy Award is a $22 million grant competition designed to address systemic barriers and advance structural reforms in three key areas: voting and elections, policymaking, and civic engagement.

“We created the Stronger Democracy Award to uncover projects that dared to think differently about how we could affect change at a systems-level,” said Erin Hoffmann, co-founder of Additional Ventures. “We want to help rebuild trust in our democracy, and we’re so grateful for the support of our co-sponsors in this competition. Democracy works best when everyone participates, so we hope that more philanthropists will recognize this opportunity to fund outstanding projects to help catalyze much-needed change in our country.”

The Stronger Democracy Award recipients are:

Ballot Freedom Project: Building a Movement for Multiparty Democracy in America ($10 million): The Center for Ballot Freedom will build popular awareness and advance reforms to make a robust multiparty democracy possible at the local, state, and federal levels.

The Documenters Network: Civic Infrastructure for Connected Communities ($10 million): City Bureau’s national, people-powered network trains and pays those most impacted by public policy to document government meetings and build a community around democratic participation.

Civic Revolution: Building a Diverse Democracy ($2 million): Accelerate Change, Inc., PushBlack, ParentsTogether Foundation, Pulso, and Noticias para Inmigrantes will develop a force of 100 million diverse citizens who consistently share news, policy, and voting information with friends and family, increasing voter participation and pressure for democracy reforms.

“Having a functioning, representative, and equitable democracy is a prerequisite for moving the needle in any policy area—whether that be climate change, gender equity, criminal justice reform, or healthcare,” said Matti Navellou, head of ICONIQ Impact. “Yet, too often, funding for these organizations comes only reactively, during moments of crisis and turmoil. The Stronger Democracy Award was created to proactively uncover and fund innovative, scale-ready solutions for protecting our democracy year-round.”

The award received 172 submissions from nonprofit organizations across the US. Applications were evaluated during a four-month review process involving peer applicants and multi-disciplined experts from around the country who evaluated the submissions based on four criteria: whether they were transformative, feasible, innovative, and scalable.

The Stronger Democracy Award is the second in a series of grant competitions managed by Lever for Change in collaboration with ICONIQ Impact. Launched in 2019, ICONIQ Impact is ICONIQ Capital’s global platform for collaborative philanthropy. Lever For Change is a nonprofit that helps donors find and fund solutions to the world’s greatest challenges, including racial and gender equity, economic development, and climate change. 

ICONIQ Impact’s partnership with Lever for Change enables members of the ICONIQ community to identify philanthropic opportunities through open, transparent, and rigorously evaluated challenges that address some of the greatest social issues of our time.

This award follows the Larsen Lam ICONIQ Impact Award—a grant competition launched in 2020 that awarded $24.25 million to five organizations dedicated to improving the lives of refugees worldwide. A third competition, the Maternal & Infant Health Award, launched in March 2022, will grant $10 million toward improving maternal and infant health outcomes around the world.

“We need the ingenuity of these problem solvers now more than ever,” said Cecilia Conrad, CEO of Lever for Change. “The crisis of democracy and representation that we face presents an opportunity to reimagine our systems and help our government more effectively represent all of its citizens. We look forward to following the work of the Stronger Democracy Award recipients and hope to find more funding for all of the outstanding projects in this competition.”

Anyone interested in supporting Stronger Democracy Award projects may contact Dana Rice, Vice President of Philanthropy at Lever for Change.

More information about the award and recipients can be found at: www.strongerdemocracyaward.org.  

Additional Ventures

Additional Ventures is a purpose-driven organization leveraging evidence-based research and deep subject matter expertise to make an outsized impact. Our fierce optimism powers bold, high-risk innovations to solve some of humanity’s most complex challenges.

The Patchwork Collective

The Patchwork Collective is a family philanthropic effort supporting locally-led solutions to global challenges. We fund diverse, bold, community-driven organizations and leaders across social equity, global health, and climate justice. Our mission is to empower the most vulnerable and marginalized communities, wherever they may be. We view each solution as one unique patch of a quilt. When brought together, they create a stronger, more vibrant, and more equitable future for all. By placing local leaders and communities at the center of our work, we preserve community agency, address inequity, and stitch together a brighter future for all…one patch at a time.

ICONIQ Impact

ICONIQ Impact is ICONIQ Capital’s global platform for collaborative philanthropy. We connect founders, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists from our community who have a shared social impact goal. Together, we tackle the world’s most urgent challenges, with the goal of creating a more just and equitable world.

Lever for Change

Lever for Change connects donors with bold solutions to the world’s biggest problems—including issues like racial inequity, gender inequality, access to economic opportunity, and climate change. Using an inclusive, equitable model and due diligence process, Lever for Change creates customized challenges and other tailored funding opportunities. Top-ranked teams and challenge finalists become members of the Bold Solutions Network—a growing global network that helps secure additional funding, amplify members’ impact, and accelerate social change. Founded in 2019 as a nonprofit affiliate of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Lever for Change has influenced nearly $950 million in grants to date and provided support to more than 145 organizations. To learn more, visit www.leverforchange.org