Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) administers a funding and learning initiative to invest in and promote engagement at the intersection of faith and democracy. In its second year, Faith In/And Democracy is an effort to explore the ways faith and faith communities can support democracy and civic life.

The initiative is exploring these framing questions in 2020-2021:

How do we encourage and support more people to build relationships and work with people who come from different racial, religious, cultural and/or political backgrounds and perspectives? How do we invest in faith communities as viable sites for this work? 

Through these questions, we seek to understand: 

  • What personal capacities—values, training, experience—support faith leaders to engage across difference and prepare them to lead that work in their institutions? 
  • What institutional capacities—strategic, programmatic, tactical—best enable organizations to do that work successfully within and beyond their own constituencies?
  • What calls leaders and enables institutions to confront discomfort and disagreement in their efforts to “reach beyond the choir?”
Learn More About This Initiative

What is it? Faith In/And Democracy is a funding and learning initiative—meaning that it provides organizations with grant support, but also prioritizes peer learning as a co-equal objective. Over the last two years, this project has awarded 11 grants, approximately $50,000 each, across two cohorts of leaders. You can learn more about the grantees of this project on this page.  In addition to funding PACE runs a cohort-based, year-long peer Learning Community for those engaged with the initiative. We see this Learning Community as a “laboratory” to test key questions about learning and impact, and reflect those learnings to funders, nonprofits, and other fields more broadly. Learn more about the Learning Community and its members on our learning page.

What does it mean? We define faith as the practice of religion or spirituality, whether organized through a formal congregation or not. We define democracy as participation in a system of representative government and the practice of self-governance. The “Faith In/And Democracy” initiative intends to explore how to both cultivate faith in democracy as a system/practice, and the relationship between faith and democracy–as in, how people’s religion or spirituality influences their desire to contribute to civil society.

Why are you doing it? Few organizations are funding specific interventions to engage people of faith in supporting the well-being of democracy. Fewer still are considering the ways in which faith can serve to ease divisions that plague our political processes. PACE members approached us to explore if and how a collaborative funding effort might help address this challenge and contribute to a culture of learning. Together with our core funders (the Democracy Fund, Fetzer Institute, Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah, and Ford Foundation), our broader membership, and our Advisory Committee, PACE seeks to support efforts to contribute to the understanding and narrative about the power and potential of faith and faith communities in democracy and civic life.

When is it happening? The first cohort was selected in August 2019 and convened through August 2020. The second cohort was selected in September 2020 and will convene through August 2021. There will be a third year of the initiative that will run from 2021-2022; details will be announced at a later date.

Why PACE? PACE  is a member-centric philanthropic laboratory that helps funders maximize their impact on democracy and civic life in the United States. This initiative resonates with PACE’s central goal of deepening collaboration and investment in civic engagement philanthropy, and in particular, it allows us to gain new insights into the intersection of democracy and faith. With this initiative, ultimately, we aim to deliver these outcomes for our members and the civic philanthropy field: 

  • inspire more funding at the intersection of faith and democracy
  • map and promote networking at this intersection
  • disseminate important research, resources, and promising practices
  • help define or prove a theory of change based on promising practices

Six projects were selected for the 2020-2021 cohort. Each organization receives a grant from PACE and will participate in a year-long Learning Community to grow their skills and expand their networks. Collectively, this cohort 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. 

Faith In/And Democracy Cohort

2020 – 2021

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

In addition, the size and quality of the application pools both years confirm the great volume of important work happening at the intersection of faith and democracy. They also demonstrate the need for more resources to support it. In our commitment to our principles, including responsible philanthropy, PACE takes to heart our opportunity to expand interest and advocate for more investment to meet that need. That is why we’re also proud to introduce you to our 2020-2021 Notable Submissions, or the 23 organizations that were invited to submit proposals in the initiative’s second year. These organizations gave us permission to share more about their work, in hopes it might be a fit for other funders and organizations. You can visit the full list here, and contact information or full proposals can be made available upon request.


To learn more about the projects that are part of this initiative, please visit:

For more about what we are learning from 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.