Civic Engagement, Investment Announcements

New Profit’s Civic Lab Invests in Seven Game-Changing Democracy Organizations

A leading nonpartisan fund, Civic Lab invests in and supports entrepreneurs building civic trust and an inclusive democracy in America.

April 14, 2021 (BOSTON) – New Profit, a nonprofit venture philanthropy organization that supports social entrepreneurs advancing equity and opportunity in the United States, announced investments in a cohort of seven nonpartisan democracy organizations that are strengthening American democracy and civic culture.

New Profit’s Civic Lab will provide one-year unrestricted grants of $100,000 and strategic capacity-building support to the selected organizations to grow and deepen their impact.

Founded in 2019, New Profit’s Civic Lab aims to invest in 30 nonpartisan democracy organizations by 2024 in order to address the crisis of civic trust in America and the lack of philanthropic investment in our declining civic infrastructure. In its inaugural year, Civic Lab invested in seven leading democracy organizations. With the addition of this new cohort, Civic Lab’s portfolio has grown to 14 organizations that address democracy-related issues from the lack of enduring infrastructure to build civic power to an opaque and elite-dominated political and policy industry, to narrative and practices that reinforce systemic racism. Consistent with New Profit’s commitment to inclusive impact, over 70 percent of Civic Lab’s current portfolio organizations are led by people of color.

The seven organizations were selected based on the leaders’ deep insight into the problems they aim to solve as well as their solutions for addressing these problems; their track record of success, potential for growth, and vision for systemic change; and their overall ability to benefit from New Profit’s support model.

The organizations were identified through a highly competitive, open call for applications that received 117 applications in two weeks from a diverse group of organizations representing all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Additionally, 64 percent of applicants identified as people of color and 64 percent as women. The investment selection process included a rigorous due diligence effort that engaged an investment advisory committee that included constituents, academics, and funders who brought their deep passion, expertise, and wisdom to design a rich and inclusive process.

The 2021 Civic Lab cohort includes:

  • Angela Lang, Black Leaders Organizing For Communities (BLOC): Works to ensure a high quality of life and access to opportunities for members of the Black community in Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin.
  • Aria Florant, Liberation Ventures: An emergent resource mobilizer and field builder fueling America’s Black-led racial repair movement.
  • Emma Vadehra, Next100: Ensures that ideas and approaches from new people—particularly those connected to the communities most impacted by policy— are key drivers of the progressive policy agenda.
  • Carlos Vera, Pay Our Interns: The nation’s only organization fighting to ensure all students—especially Black, Latinx, and Native American students—have equitable access to professional career paths through the implementation of paid internships countrywide.
  • Maxwell Lubin, Rise: Dedicated to helping all students and youth afford higher education and participate in our democracy. Through programs that invest directly in youth, Rise is working to build youth political power in states nationwide.
  • Aimee Allison, She The People: Brings together a national network of women of color—Black, Latina, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Muslim, Indigenous—to transform our democracy. She The People is organizing a muliracial coalition that will lead the nation into a new political and cultural era.
  • Albert Cahn, Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, Inc. (S.T.O.P.): Litigates and advocates for privacy, working to abolish local governments’ systems of mass surveillance. S.T.O.P.’s work highlights the discriminatory impact of surveillance on Muslim Americans, immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community, indigenous peoples, and communities of color, particularly the unique trauma of anti-Black policing.

“These seven organizations are reinvigorating our civil society and leading innovations to help us construct a truly inclusive and multiracial democracy,” said Yordanos Eyoel, Managing Partner at New Profit and the founder of Civic Lab. “They are employing a range of strategies: Organizing, building a pipeline of diverse leaders for public service, crafting narrative that counteracts polarization, advancing proximate policy, and supporting data and infrastructure building. We are thrilled to partner with these organizations and bring New Profit’s 20-plus years of experience to accelerate their growth and impact.”

These seven organizations are reinvigorating our civil society and leading innovations to help us construct a truly inclusive and multiracial democracy.

— Yordanos Eyoel, Managing Partner at New Profit and the founder of Civic Lab

Like all breakthrough leaders and organizations supported by New Profit, this group will receive unrestricted grants 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. In addition, the cohort will benefit from a peer learning community that will provide an opportunity for entrepreneurs to connect, receive and give advice, and participate in learning sessions andconvenings structured around tackling key leadership and organizational challenges they face.

In addition to it’s direct investments, New Profit’s Civic Lab is committed to building the ecosystem for democracy entrepreneurship. To this end, Civic Lab is creating a Democracy Entrepreneurs Directory to amplify the work of democracy organizations with the New Profit network and the broader philanthropic sector. Please fill out this form to be included in the Directory.

New Profit’s Civic Lab is grateful to the contributions of the 2021 Investment Advisory Committee Members:

  • Abby Kiesa, Deputy Director, Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University
  • Bettie Murchison, Board Member, The People
  • Carrie Davis, Democracy Program Director, Joyce Foundation
  • Fernando Bohorquez, Advisor, The People
  • Matt Ogden, Founder & Managing Partner, Building Industry Partners
  • Mitch Weiss, Professor of Management Practice, Harvard Business School
  • Tim Carlberg, Principal, Skoll Foundation
  • Vanessa Tucker, Program Officer for U.S. Democracy, Hewlett Foundation

For inquiries about New Profit’s Civic Lab, please email: catalyze@newprofit.org.