PACE Seeks Proposals at Intersection of Faith and Democracy

PACE (Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement) is a community of funders that invests in the sustaining elements of democracy and civic life in the United States. Its members share a belief that America will be healthier and more successful, resilient, and productive if democracy is strong and the office of citizen is treated as central to how it functions.  PACE believes that American democracy will thrive when all of its people are informed and engaged in the process of creating it. 

To that end, PACE is launching a pilot initiative to invest in and promote engagement at the intersection of faith and democracy. The organization recognizes faith as a practice of religion or spirituality, whether organized through a formal congregation or not, and recognizes democracy as encompassing the breadth of civic life, including individuals’ participation in both the process of ensuring representative government and the practice of self-governance. The initiative is about exploring how engagement in civic life can contribute to people's faith in democracy as a system, as well as the ways faith influences how people contribute to civil society.

The pilot is intended to inspire engagement by people and communities of faith in supporting the well-being of democracy, and to consider the ways in which faith can serve to ease divisions that plague political, civic, and social processes in the United States. PACE embraces the experimental nature of the pilot as an opportunity for innovation in funding and in learning. To maximize that potential, in addition to funding five to seven projects from across the country, PACE will organize and support a learning community for the pilot’s grantees, funders, and advisors. The Learning Community will be a laboratory to test framing questions and a vehicle to enhance participants’ knowledge, skills, relationships, and networks.

Questions that the organization hopes the initiative will explore include: How can faith be a means to bridge divides and foster respect and cooperation in our democracy? How do communities of faith, religion, and/or spirituality prepare and train leaders to support democratic values and civic institutions? What would it look like to have an effective multi-ethnic, religiously pluralistic democracy? How can intra- and interfaith dialogue lead to actions that enhance civic life? How do leaders reach “beyond the choir” to include participants who are not comfortable with or amenable to talking across difference? How does faith intersect with other identifiers such race, class, and gender, and how do those identities taken collectively influence participation in civic life? What means, methods, and tools have faith, religious, or spiritual communities used successfully to bridge difference and foster cooperation and civic engagement?

Qualified applicants must be (or be fiscally sponsored by) a 501(c)(3) public charity that does not participate in partisan political campaigns and does not conduct substantial lobbying activities. Grantees will be asked to designate a project lead to participate in the project’s Learning Community comprised of other grantee representatives and PACE partners and advisors. The objectives of the Learning Community include creating an environment of mutuality where all participants are both teachers and learners who probing central questions, build relationships and map connections within this emerging field, and support thoughtful evaluation of the pilot’s value and success.

Proposals will be evaluated by PACE staff and the pilot’s advisory committee, including PACE’s staff, contributing funders, faith leaders, and practitioners from the field with support from PACE’s program consultant, Uncommon Partners. Final grant decisions will be made by PACE.

The size of the pool is $300,000, and the organization anticipates making five to seven awards. The size of individual grants will be variable, with an anticipated range of between $20,000 to $50,000.

Organizations interested in applying to this pilot must submit a proposal that addresses the values, criteria, and instructions above. Proposals must be submitted electronically by 5:00 p.m. PDT on July 1, 2019. Once applicants are notified that they have been selected to receive a grant, they will be invited to enter into an agreement with PACE. Awards will be paid according to milestones delineated in the agreement. Questions and resources PACE’s primers on democracy and civic engagement may provide helpful definitions, illustrate a range of civic engagement activities, and offer insight into PACE’s ethos.

For more information and to apply, visit https://pace.submittable.com/submit.