Faith In/And Democracy was first established in 2019 as a pilot funding and learning initiative led by Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) to explore the ways faith and faith communities can support democracy and civic life. When the project launched, Kristen Cambell, PACE’s Executive Director said: “With this project, we hope to uncover the power and potential of faith communities to ease the divisions that plague our political, civic, and social processes. At this decisive time for our democracy, we were humbled to learn about the depth and breadth of work happening at this important intersection, and are thrilled to amplify a piece of it through this effort.” As we enter a second year of this initiative, those words carry even more significance.

Over the last two years, this project awarded 11 grants across two cohorts of leaders. Each organization received a grant from PACE (approximately $50,000 each) and engaged in a year-long Learning Community to grow their skills and expand their networks. Over the 2020-2021 year, the Learning Community will seek to understand how faith communities are viable sites to help people build relationships and work with people who come from different racial, religious, cultural and/or political backgrounds and perspectives.  

A brief description of the organizations engaged in this initiative can be found below.

2019 – 2020 Projects (Pilot Year)

Faith In Indiana

This project will train clergy and people of faith to use the Race Class Narrative–based on the work of communications expert Anat Shenker-Osorio, whose research produced messages that reduced racial polarization–to engage in events and conversation that bridge difference and lead to action. The three methods it will employ are: 1) train clergy to change public conversation, 2) create conversations within faith communities, and 3) hold deep conversations with voters about the politics of faith, race, and division. They will work in three different Indiana counties, each experiencing painful divisions between communities, including urban/rural, Christian/Muslim, native-born/immigrant, and racial divides. The hypothesis this project hopes to prove is that bedrock faith values and religious institutions can reach “beyond the choir” to provide a foundation for cross-racial solidarity and democratic participation.

Website: faithinaction.org/federation/faith-in-indiana/

Twitter: @faithinindiana

Location: Indianapolis, IN

Project Lead: Shoshanna Spector

Grantee Profile: Faith, Race, and Democracy Project

Podcast Interview: Faith and Democracy in a COVID Era

ISAIAH

This project will empower people of Southern Minnesota to bring their religious values into the political arena and embody them through prophetic acts of justice and compassion. In five communities across the region, ISAIAH will convene leadership teams, host listening conversations and retreats, train people to caucus in a nonpartisan way, and work through congregations to encourage civic participation. The organization’s theory of change is that the core principles of faith (and the trusted messengers of clergy and religious leaders) can help communities bridge partisan divides and reduce divisions in communities. The hypothesis for this project is that this methodology can also reduce racial polarization, promote common understanding, and reengage people with civic life. 

Website: isaiahmn.org

Twitter: @ISAIAHMN

Location: St. Cloud, MN

Project Lead: Kathryn Lozada

Grantee Profile: Organizing to bring people together across lines of race

Neighborly Faith Inc.

This program will mobilize young Evangelical leaders on college campuses to address systemic fear and bigotry toward Muslims and to introduce inclusive democratic values. They will do this by empowering Evangelical students on 10 college campuses to train their peers to become ambassadors for “principled civic pluralism and Muslim friendship,” and by equipping them to do interfaith bridge-building in other aspects of their lives, off campus. The cumulative goal is that Evangelical campuses with thousands of future Evangelical leaders will have on-campus initiatives devoted to connecting young Evangelicals’ faith with principled pluralism and interfaith service and advocacy, as well as combatting Islamophobia.

Website: neighborlyfaith.org

Twitter: @NeighborlyFaith

Location: Raleigh, NC

Project Lead: Chris Stackaruk

Grantee Profile: Evangelical-Muslim Friendship Mobilization

Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy

VICPP will engage 30 immigrant congregations across the commonwealth to collaborate with 10 of their existing chapters, which are comprised of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim clergy and lay leaders. The project will prioritize relationship building between the congregations and the chapters, and engage them together on discussions of issues that are priorities for immigrants. Together, they will explain processes and opportunities to be involved in civic life and develop multi-lingual educational tools for immigrant congregations on civic engagement. There will be priority focus on mosques, Hindu temples, and Latinx and Korean communities, which have been less likely to be engaged in VICPP’s work to-date.

Website: virginiainterfaithcenter.org

Twitter: @vainterfaith

Location: Richmond, VA

Project Leads: Dora Muhammad, Kim Bobo 

Grantee Profile: Engaging Immigrant Congregations in Civic Life

Wisconsin Council of Churches

Clergy and laity in Wisconsin express reluctance to engage in the political process for fear of crossing partisan boundaries or causing conflict in the congregation. This project proposes using the expertise, credibility, and consistency in faith-based public engagement of several trusted organizations to offer congregations an on-ramp to this work through nonpartisan voter education, registration, and turnout efforts. Committed partners include Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice, Muslim Women of Madison, and Christ Presbyterian Church. Goals include: building increased understanding and stronger ties among different faith communities; increasing engagement in electoral processes, and generating a greater understanding by faith communities of the influential role they can play in the public square.

Website: wichurches.org

Twitter: @wichurches

Location: Sun Prairie, WI

Project Leads: Peter Bakken, Bonnie Margulis

Grantee Profile: Wisconsin Interfaith Voter Engagement Campaign

2020 – 2021 Projects

America Indivisible

Public Leaders for Inclusion Fellowship: The vision of this work is to cultivate American communities that have the religious and civic literacy they need to be truly resilient, especially when confronted by forms of hate. This Fellowship supports the development of religiously literate leaders who will go on to pursue careers in government service, and to help public servants build inclusive civic networks within the communities they serve, including among diverse faith communities. Specifically, the 2020-2021 Fellowship will work with higher education institutions and government agencies to create a public service partnership. It will also create opportunities for students of religious and interfaith studies to apply their knowledge and skills to public service projects.

Website: americaindivisible.org

Instagram: @america.indivisible 

Location: Washington, DC

Project Leader: Usra Ghazi

Chicago Theological Seminary

InterAct: Engaging Diverse Faith Communities in Anti-Racist Work: The vision of this work is to support religious leaders and faith communities to combat the forces of racial division and domination. It does this by drawing from their spiritual traditions and teachings in order to build bridges across differences and strengthen the capacity of democracy to achieve justice. This project will improve upon CTS’ theological education to better prepare seminarians to lead in a multi-racial, multi-faith society; it will also expand partnerships to foster interreligious anti-racism training in spiritual communities around the country–linking the work to the role of faith in strengthening democracy. 

Website: ctschicago.edu

Twitter: @CTS_Chicago 

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Project Leader: Rabbi Rachel Mikva

Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition

Faith, Democracy, and Climate Change in Alaska: The vision of this work is to foster responsible stewardship of the earth, strengthen democracy, and facilitate climate action in Fairbanks, Interior Alaska, and beyond. This project will increase capacity for the FCAC Interfaith Working Group to continue its work to build shared understanding of climate impacts and solutions. The Working Group expects to work closely with 15-20 faith communities who are committed to ongoing dialogue, trainings, and gatherings to develop locally-supported, meaningful climate actions.

Website: fairbanksclimateaction.org

Twitter: @FBXClimate

Location: Fairbanks, Alaska

Project Leader: Terry Chapin

Faith in Action Alabama

The vision of this work is to honor God by dismantling systemic racism to create pathways of opportunity for all Alabamians. The organization utilizes a multi-faith, multi-racial faith-based community organizing approach to ensure Alabama’s democracy truly represents its people. Specifically, the nonpartisan Freedom Vote 2020 campaign seeks to engage 160,000 infrequent voters by increasing registration and turnout, explaining mail-in voting, and educating those who were formerly incarcerated on their voting rights. This will serve as the on-ramp to civic engagement during the 2021 legislative session.

Website: faithinaction.org/federation/faith-in-action-alabama

Twitter: @faithinactional

Location: Birmingham, Alabama

Project Leader: Stephanie Strong

NM Comunidades en Acción y de Fe

Southern New Mexico Clergy Cohort: The vision of this work is to co-create and shape a faith-based moral narrative with and for New Mexico communities. This project will engage a cohort of diverse multi-faith and multi-racial clergy and faith leaders from across four counties. Cohort trainings and gatherings will include theological shared reflections, economic and racial analysis of their communities, exploration of policy opportunities, and lessons in how to powerfully share their stories, how to build their own justice teams with other clergy and lay leaders, and how to best bridge the differences amongst leaders of faith through the lens of justice

Website: organizenm.org

Twitter: @OrganizeNM

Location: Las Cruces, New Mexico

Project Leader: Johana Bencomo

One America Movement

Shaping the Evangelical Church’s Response to Our National Moment: The vision of this work is to combat toxic polarization by equipping leaders to shape the actions, norms and behaviors of their own groups while improving relations across divides. One America’s Religious Leader Training Program trains, equips, and networks conservative, Evangelical Christian pastors to resist toxic polarization, navigate difficult divisions within their churches, and combat racism, anti-Semitism, and anti-Muslim sentiment. Specifically, the work associated with this project will provide training for pastors to understand division and the science behind it and to then create strategic and effective interventions within their church, their communities and across the country.

Website: oneamericamovement.org

Twitter: @One__America

Location: Washington, DC

Project Leader: Matthew Hawkins


For additional information about the initiative, please visit:

To take a look at what we’re learning through this initiative, please visit:

All other questions can be directed to Faith@PACEfunders.org. Sign up for our newsletters to receive periodic updates on this and other PACE programs.