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 will explore 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 this question, 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?”

“We have a two-prong operating belief: there is a lot of faith-based civic engagement work happening without adequate resources, and that this work is a high-leverage investment,” said Kristen Cambell, Executive Director of PACE. “Our pilot fund in 2019 received over $6.3 million in funding requests from over 130 organizations. While our contribution remains modest compared to the need, we believe we can play an important role in scaling attention for this important work. As we pivot from pilot to program in 2020, we want to identify new partners and accelerate learnings in hopes others will see the power and potential of faith communities and the role they play during such a critical time in our democracy.”

Learn More About the Initiative

What is it? Faith In/And Democracy is a funding and learning initiativemeaning that it provides organizations with grant support, but also prioritizes peer learning as a co-equal objective. In 2020, PACE will award 5-6 grants, up to $50,000 each, to a cohort of leaders and organizations best prepared to help address its framing questions: 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?  In addition to funding 5-6 new projects, PACE will run 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 our fields more broadly. Learn more about the Learning Community and its members on our resource 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, and Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah), 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 cohort will be selected through an application process with two parts: an initial letter of intent (LOI), followed by a full proposal for select applicants. Applications for the second year cohort were open June 9 – July 7, 2020; applications are now closed. Project Leads will be notified about whether they are invited to submit a full proposal by July 23, 2020. Full proposals will be due August 14, 2020 and award notifications will be communicated by September 9, 2020. The grant year will run from September 2020 through August 2021. 

The pilot cohort was announced in August 2019 and will continue through August 2020. This is the second year of the initiative. 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
  • inspire faith communities to do civic engagement work

To learn more about the pilot year of this initiative, please visit:

For additional information about the initiative, please visit : 

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