The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has announced a new grantmaking program aimed at strengthening its investments in America's democratic institutions.
Launched in 2014 as a time-limited effort focused on strengthening U.S. democracy, the Madison Initiative will become the foundation's new U.S. Democracy Program. With an annual grantmaking budget of more than $22 million — the same as the Madison Iniatiative's budget in 2019 — the program will work to advance five priorities: advocating for and upholding key values and norms of U.S. democracy, including pluralism, political tolerance, negotiation, and compromise; boosting the effectiveness of Congress by modernizing and rebuilding its capacity and culture of deliberation, leadership, and civility; improving campaigns and election processes to better represent the diversity of eligible voters; combating the negative impacts of digital disinformation; and providing support for research, data, media, and collaboration that informs and improves the work of philanthropists, scholars, advocates, journalists, political reformers, and policy makers.
"The foundation's decision to make a long-term commitment is a vote of confidence in the work that the nonpartisan organizations we support have underway," said U.S. Democracy program director Daniel Stid. "In a time of unprecedented polarization, these groups are doing the spadework to strengthen democratic values and institutions, bridge divides, and find the common ground that will serve all Americans in the future. Their efforts will be aided by the kind of long-term, patient capital that we plan to provide."
"Whatever the fallout from this pandemic, and whatever the outcome of the electoral battle in November, it is clearer than ever that we have long-term work to do to shore up and strengthen the capacities, norms, and values of our democratic institutions," said Hewlett Foundation president Larry Kramer. "It's a challenge we cannot take lightly, because solving societal problems depends on healthy and functioning representative institutions."