Civic Engagement

Exciting Opportunity Coming Soon: Civic Lab to invest in 8 democracy organizations

We are excited to announce that we will be accepting applications for the 2022 Civic Lab cohort starting the week of January 19, 2022. Civic Lab will provide $800K in catalytic, unrestricted funding to 8 organizations.

December 8, 2021

Fill out the Democracy Entrepreneurs Directory to stay informed about this cohort.


Launched in 2019, New Profit’s Civic Lab is a leading nonpartisan initiative that invests in and grows innovative solutions building civic trust and inclusive democracy in America. To date, Civic Lab has invested in 15 game-changing organizations

In 2022, we are seeking to invest in 8 innovative nonpartisan democracy-entrepreneur-led organizations in our country. Due to the significant funding disparity for organizations led by leaders of color, particularly women of color, at least 50% of our investments will be in organizations led by Black, Latina/x, and Indigenous women. Please read our State of Democracy Entrepreneurship report to learn more about the funding disparities we uncovered from our 2021 investment selection cycle. 

Our Civic Lab investments are guided by four principles: 

  1. We believe democracy entrepreneurs who represent the diversity of our country should be leading efforts to transform the civic destiny of our country.
  2. We invest in the long game. 
  3. 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.
  4. We are committed to diversity of demographics, thought, and geography to unleash the full ingenuity and innovation needed to move our country forward.


Eligibility Criteria

Organizations applying to the Civic Lab cohort must fit the following criteria to apply. If your organization does not meet the eligibility criteria at this time, we invite you to join the Democracy Entrepreneurs Directory, which we created to amplify the work of democracy organizations among the broader New Profit network and other philanthropists.

The Civic Lab Cohort eligibility criteria:

    • Organization or fiscal sponsor must be a 501(c)(3)
    • Organization is led by a Democracy Entrepreneur. We define a Democracy Entrepreneur (often the CEO, Executive Director, or equivalent title) as both the leader and final decision-maker of an organization’s internal/external strategy, daily operations and financial decisions—outside of your board, the buck stops with you.
    • Organization has been in operation for at least two years. 
    • Democracy Entrepreneur (CEO/ED) must work for organization on a full-time basis (~30 hours/week) by launch of programming in May 2022.
    • Organization uses one or more of the five levers below to create increased civic trust and build a civic culture in America: 
      • Grassroots Organizing 
      • Building Diverse Pipelines for Public Office 
      • Policy Advocacy 
      • Narrative to Counteract Polarization & Misinformation 
      • Data Systems & Operations Infrastructure
    • Democracy Entrepreneur plans to stay at the organization until at least March 2023.
    • Democracy Entrepreneur commits to engaging in: 
      • Monthly 1:1 coaching (phone/video) 
      • Three convenings (typically spread out over 2-3 days) 
      • and three 2-3-hour virtual learning sessions over the course of one year 

If or when it is safe to resume in-person gatherings, convenings will be held in Boston, MA. Ability to commit to and attend ALL programming is required for selection. All programming dates will be provided during the investment selection process. 

Our Model

Civic Lab offers a synergistic support model to work with and towards the needs of each organization, creating value across several dimensions. This includes a peer learning community, 1:1 adaptive leadership coaching, consultations with external content experts, New Profit’s tested capacity-building framework and tools, and $100,000 in unrestricted support. 

While each cohort has different needs, the base of our capacity-building program consists of: 

  • Refining a systems theory of change and connecting it to a compelling story of impact
  • Assessing organizational strengths and capabilities and areas for improvement
  • Building effective boards of directors
  • Developing effective practices for managing teams/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 need

While we will not be able to take any questions about this opportunity in advance of the application launch on January 19, 2022, we will hold an information session when the application is live. We recommend joining our Democracy Entrepreneurs Directory to receive an update when the application launches. We also invite you to share this opportunity with anyone in your networks who may be interested. And please stay tuned to our social media, website, and newsletter for more information over the coming weeks!