Civic Engagement

Call for Submissions: New Profit’s Civic Lab Cohort (closed)

New Profit to Invest $800,000 in Eight Nonprofits Working to Build a United States Democracy Where All Can Thrive.

August 10, 2023

Note: The submission period for this application is now closed. 

New Profit, the national venture philanthropy organization, will invest in eight innovative nonpartisan organizations focused on democracy in the United States. Launched in 2019, New Profit’s Civic Lab is a leading nonpartisan initiative that invests in and grows innovative non-profit organizations focused on building civic trust and an inclusive democracy in the U.S. and its territories. To date, Civic Lab has invested in 22 game-changing organizations.  

Due to the significant funding disparity for organizations led by leaders of color, particularly women of color, our investments will be prioritizing organizations led by Black, Latina, and Indigenous women,  and trans leaders, and organizations working in rural communities. If you don’t identify along these lines but your organization is eligible based on the criteria below, we encourage you to apply. Read more about some of our lessons learned from our 2021 investment cycle in our State of Democracy Entrepreneurship

If you believe your organization fits the eligibility criteria outlined below, we invite you to submit an application by Wednesday, September 6, at 8pm ET/5pm PT.

About the Civic Lab Catalyze Cohort

For this upcoming selection cycle, eight innovative nonprofit organizations will receive a $100,000 unrestricted investment, in-kind capacity-building support, and access to a peer learning community over the course of one year. 

Our Civic Lab investments are guided by five principles: 

  • We believe democracy entrepreneurs who represent the diversity of our country should be at the helm of leading efforts to transform the civic destiny of our country.
  • We invest in the long game. 
  • We need to unlock the latent power of everyday Americans to create enduring local leadership that will drive and sustain civic participation. We need breakthrough solutions that target the underlying structural and systemic conditions creating disenfranchisement in our democracy.
  • We are committed to diversity of demographics, thought, and geography to unleash the full ingenuity and innovation needed to move our country forward.
  • We seek to support organizations that are building our collective civic capabilities by cultivating discernment (e.g., media literacy, civic education), building daily practices of democracy (e.g., narrative change work), and/or constructing a vision for an inclusive and thriving democracy where we all recognize and honor our connected futures (e.g., community activation and engagement). 

Catalyze Support Model

New Profit offers a collaborative support model to support visionary social entrepreneurs and their organizations, creating value across several dimensions. Our support model includes 1:1 adaptive leadership coaching, connection to consultations with external content experts, New Profit’s tested capacity-building framework and tools, and $100,000 in unrestricted support. Through the cohort, social entrepreneurs will have access to a unique learning community and support system of peer leaders working across the democracy space.

While each cohort of social entrepreneurs requires tailored supports to meet their unique needs, the base of our capacity-building program includes the following: 

  • Refining impact model to advance systems change outcomes and connecting it to a compelling story of impact
  • Assessing organizational strengths, capabilities, and opportunities for growth
  • Building an effective, high-performance boards of directors
  • Developing equitable and results-driven practices for managing teams and stakeholders
  • Identifying effective practices for operational excellence in order to execute against organizational strategy (fundraising, finance, HR, and communications) 
  • 1-2 additional topics identified by cohort members as areas of support

Eligibility Criteria 

Organizations applying to Civic Lab must meet the criteria listed below to apply. If your organization does not meet the eligibility criteria at this time, we invite you to complete New Profit’s Discovery Form, which will help us consider you for future relevant funding opportunities. Please consider the following opportunities to connect with our team if you have additional questions about whether your organization would be a good fit for this investment selection cycle:

  • We held an informational webinar on Wednesday, August 16 led by the Civic Lab team, to learn more about the opportunity. We have posted a recording under “Resources” below for anyone who wasn’t able to attend.
  • Contact our team at with “Civic Lab” as the subject line.

The eligibility criteria are as follows:

  • Working to advance democracy: Organization’s work centers on building an inclusive and thriving multiracial, multicultural democracy where all belong and can thrive and where we recognize and honor our connected futures. We recognize our democracy has not served all equally or equitably and in fact, has harmed and ignored communities across the U.S. over time. We’re looking to support organizations that are working to build a democracy that serves these communities.
  • Working primarily in the United States and its territories: Organization operates in and primarily serves communities in the United States.
  • 501(c)(3) status: Organization or fiscal sponsor must be a nonprofit with 501(c)(3) status. 
  • Budget Size: Organization’s annual operating budget for the current fiscal year should be between $250K and $2 million. Please reference your expenses, rather than your revenue, when considering budget size. We consider organizations with annual expenses within the budget range eligible, even if revenue is above or below the budget range.
  • Led by social entrepreneur(s): Organization must be led by a social entrepreneur or social entrepreneurs. We define a social entrepreneur (often the CEO/ED or equivalent) as both the leader and final decision-maker of an organization’s internal/external strategy, daily operations, and financial decisions. Social entrepreneurs must also work for the organization on a full-time basis (~30 hours/week), with plans to remain at the organization through to the completion of the one-year grant term. We welcome organizations with co-leadership models to apply. 
  • In operation for at least 2 years: Organization has been in operation for at least two years as of August 1, 2023.
  • Early-stage but not “seed”-stage: Organization considers itself past seed-stage (i.e., already has a functional operating model and approach) but is still relatively early-stage in terms of organizational growth and capacity. This criterion is less about the actual age of your organization (in terms of number of years in operation), and more about the stage of growth that you feel you are in right now, especially related to your democracy initiatives or work.
  • Not a previous New Profit grantee: Organization has not previously received investment from New Profit’s Build or Catalyze initiatives. We are unable to consider organizations that have previously received funding through New Profit’s Build or Catalyze initiatives.
  • Willing to be an actively engaged cohort member over the course of one year: Through deep pattern recognition based on learnings from our portfolio, we have found that pairing flexible capital with targeted capacity-building support can strengthen an organization’s ability to refine and expand their impact model, strategic capabilities, and sustainable growth orientation. With this in mind, we ask that social entrepreneurs seeking investment are also committed to active and meaningful participation in the following programming over the course of one year: 
    • Monthly 1:1 adaptive leadership coaching
    • Every other month: 1:1 strategic advising
    • Three in-person convenings (typically spread out over 2-3 days) 
    • Three 2-3-hour virtual learning sessions The first two convening dates are below.
    • The first two convening dates are below. We will work with the final cohort to schedule the remaining programming.
      • Convening #1: February 5 – 8, 2024
      • Convening #2: May 20 – 23, 2024

We ask that organizations that apply to Civic Lab are committed and interested in attending all programming. Programming typically requires a commitment of about 6-8 hours monthly on average. New Profit will cover travel, accommodation, and meal expenses for each in-person convening. The first few programming dates will be provided during the application process, and the team will work with the selected cohort to schedule the remaining programming dates.

Application Process

We approach our investment selection process with deep curiosity and a focus on building relationships and mutual understanding to identify the most promising social entrepreneurs with potential for impact at scale. In consideration of your time and to support your planning and scheduling, we are sharing the stages of our selection process, as well as key milestones and dates. Note: You will be updated on the status of your application after each stage in the process.

  • Application submission deadline: Wednesday, September 6, at 8pm ET/5pm PT: The application for this cycle consists of basic information to help us understand your organization (e.g. year founded, contact information, financial data, and communities served), as well as long-form questions to better understand your organization’s program model, mission, and impact. Once the submission deadline passes, our team will conduct an internal review of applications to determine which organizations will be invited to screening interviews. 
  • Screening Interviews: Starting in October: A subset of organizations will advance to this stage, which will consist of two rounds of interviews. The Civic Lab team will ask questions to better understand each organization’s work, and social entrepreneurs and other key stakeholders will have opportunities to ask questions of New Profit. Our goal is to build a mutual learning partnership and we want to ensure organizations and their teams get time to get to know New Profit as we get to know them. These interviews will begin in October.

If you believe your organization fits the eligibility criteria outlined below, we invite you to submit an application by Wednesday, September 6, at 8pm ET/5pm PT. 


To learn more about the Civic Lab application process, please refer to the following resources. 

  • Application: (Note: The application period for this cohort is now closed) Submit your application through FormAssembly by the September 6 deadline for consideration
  • Application Guide: Download an editable version of the application to draft your responses
  • Civic Lab FAQs: Review frequently asked questions about organizational eligibility, the application, and Civic Lab more broadly
  • Information Session: If you weren’t able to attend our informational webinar on Wednesday, August 16 led by the Civic Lab team you can watch a recording of the session here and view the presentation slides here

For any questions, please contact with “Civic Lab” in the subject line. In addition to our informational webinar, we will be holding office hours during the following times to answer any additional questions you may have. Each time slot is 10 minutes – please reserve your time using this link. Due to the expected volume of interest, securing a time will be first come first serve. 

  • Thursday, August 24, 2023 from 11 – 12:30 am ET/8 – 9:30 am PT and 3 – 4 pm ET/12 – 1 pm PT

We invite you to share this opportunity with anyone in your network who may be interested. 

About New Profit

New Profit is a venture philanthropy organization that backs social entrepreneurs who are advancing equity and opportunity in the U.S. New Profit exists to build a bridge between these leaders and a community of philanthropists who are committed to catalyzing their impact. New Profit provides unrestricted grants and strategic support to a portfolio of organizations led by visionary social entrepreneurs to increase their impact, scale, and sustainability. It also partners with social entrepreneurs and other cross-sector leaders to shift how government and philanthropy pursue social change to ensure that all people can thrive. Since its founding in 1998, New Profit has invested over $350M in 200+ organizations and, through the America Forward Coalition’s collective advocacy efforts, has unlocked over $1.9B in government funding for social innovation.