Civic Engagement

Introducing New Profit’s Fourth Civic Lab Cohort of Democracy Entrepreneurs

January 18, 2024

As we enter a year where more than half of the world’s population will go to the polls – 4.2 billion citizens across approximately 65 countries, New Profit is excited to welcome ten new Democracy Entrepreneurs to our Civic Lab 4 cohort. These entrepreneurs are collectively building our US democracy for the long term and we invite you to get closer to them and their organizations.

Launched in 2019, New Profit’s Civic Lab is a leading nonpartisan initiative that invests in and grows innovative non-profit organizations focused on strengthening democracy and sparking an American Evolution in the U.S. and its territories. To date, Civic Lab has invested in 30 game-changing organizations. In our 2021 State of Democracy Entrepreneurship report, we identified trends around inequitable capital flows in particular to women and women of color Democracy Entrepreneurs. Our selection process has therefore prioritized investing to address these gaps.  

Our Civic Lab investments are guided by five principles: 

  1. 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.
  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.
  5. 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).

Meet the Civic Lab 4 Cohort 

  • Robin Rue Simmons, FirstRepair: FirstRepair works nationally to educate and equip leaders, stakeholders, and allies who are advancing local reparations policies that remedy historic and ongoing anti-Black practices. FirstRepair’s knowledge network includes seasoned experts and social innovators with a proven commitment to reparations, racial justice, and Black community empowerment. 
  • Jerren Chang, GenUnity: GenUnity’s mission is to bring residents together across difference to grow as everyday civic leaders, build community, and drive change on the local issues they are passionate about and proximate to. GenUnity’s issue-focused community leadership programs (e.g., Health Equity in Boston) center lived experience and connection, bringing together residents who have experienced the issue firsthand and those working in institutions to address them. Residents build up their understanding of the issue – connecting their diverse experiences to the systems and power structures shaping them – and apply their growth to make a positive impact in their workplaces and neighborhoods.
  • Stephanie Lopez, Latinas Represent: Latinas Represent is the only national, nonpartisan organization working to increase the number and diversity of Latinas in public service, from voters to elected officials. Through their work, Latinas Represent aims to transform communities and build a more reflective democracy that includes the voices of diverse Latinas, especially those from multiple marginalized communities. To this end, Latinas Represent provides culturally-specific leadership recruitment, training, and support to build a pipeline of Latinas ready to lead in their communities. Their work is grounded in the understanding that Latinx heritage and culture are assets that make Latinas phenomenal candidates and public service leaders. 
  • Clare Bresnahan English & Karen Pandy-Cherry, New Leaders Council: New Leaders Council (NLC) trains the people who change the world. They support these changemakers within a community leadership movement. NLC creates community across nearly 50 chapters nationwide that build trust, center equity, and reflect the people they serve. They invest in local changemakers who historically have been excluded from leadership pipelines yet are best equipped to solve our nation’s most challenging issues. They sustain local ecosystems that accelerate progress. Anchored by its six-month leadership development program, the NLC Institute, NLC alumni share their new skills, knowledge, and network with their communities and workplaces, whether they run for office, manage advocacy campaigns, advocate for equity in the private sector, or launch start-ups and nonprofits.
  • Danielle Allen & Kelly Chasse, Partners in Democracy: Partners In Democracy does one thing: democracy renovation. Democracy renovation is a new way of thinking about and investing to strengthen our country. Democracy renovation reconnects people to civic life and redesigns our political institutions and civic infrastructure so people have the tools they need to be responsible and effective citizens and politicians have the incentives they need to deliver responsive and accountable representation.
  • Tracie Powell, The Pivot Fund: The Pivot Fund serves Black, Brown, and immigrant communities in the U.S. by investing in trusted, culturally competent news organizations that deliver news to those from underrepresented communities. The Pivot Fund disrupts and reimagines the journalism industry, ensuring equity for the BIPOCTM (Black Indigenous Other People of Color and Traditionally Marginalized) community news organizations and the communities they serve.
  • Jacob Merkle, Rhizome: Rhizome’s mission is to activate young people’s identities into action and help youth treat civic service as the work of a lifetime. Young people hold untapped collective power to create the safer, happier, healthier world they want to live in. Rhizome provides structures that unify young people to shape change and lead meaningful lives.
  • Esteban Kelly, US Federation of Worker Co-ops: The United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC) is the national grassroots membership organization for worker cooperatives and democratic workplaces. Their mission is to build a thriving ecosystem for worker-owned and controlled businesses and cooperative leaders in order to power movements for racial justice and economic democracy. USFWC’s programs advance worker-owned, -managed,- and governed workplaces through cooperative education, advocacy, and business development.

Over the next year, cohort members will engage in a peer learning community that connects through virtual sessions and multi-day in-person convenings focused on building relationships with one another and tackling key leadership and organizational challenges. Each organization will receive $100,000 in unrestricted funding and one-on-one leadership and strategic coaching to help them build organizational capacity and take aim at changing the broader systems in which they operate. 

We invite you to learn more about these Democracy Entrepreneurs and their work by visiting their websites and subscribing to New Profit’s newsletter for the latest updates about our portfolio. Entrepreneurs in this cohort will also have the opportunity to share more about their work through our ongoing Social Entrepreneur Spotlight series on New Profit’s blog, NPGo. If you would like to be notified about future funding opportunities, please fill out this form.

About New Profit

New Profit is a venture philanthropy organization that backs social entrepreneurs who are advancing equity and opportunity in America. 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 250+ organizations and, through the America Forward Coalition’s collective advocacy efforts, has unlocked over $1.9B in government funding for social innovation.