We have incubated the Democracy Fund within Omidyar Network over the past three years as a unique philanthropic enterprise driven by Pierre Omidyar’s vision to address the perilous state of our democracy and rebuild public confidence in our political institutions. During this time, we have committed nearly $20 million to support organizations working to strengthen our media, improve the administration of our election and campaign finance systems, and foster more effective governance in the United States.
When Pierre asked me in the Spring of 2011 to develop this new program, I could not have imagined the incredible journey I was about to embark upon. Three years later, I am excited to share that the Democracy Fund will re-launch itself this summer as an independent private foundation within The Omidyar Group.
The Democracy Fund remains committed to the priorities we have set out in our three core initiatives. Our support for grantees like the Investigative News Network, the American Press Institute, Healthy Democracy, and the Engaging News Project will continue to foster innovative new practices within and outside of journalism to better inform voters. We will continue to work with grantees like Pew’s Elections Initiatives, TurboVote, the Committee for Economic Development, and Fund for the Republic to pursue common sense solutions for fixing our election and campaign finance systems. And our work with grantees like the Bipartisan Policy Center, the No Labels Foundation, the Faith & Politics Institute, and the National Institute for Civil Discourse will continue to build bridges across the aisle and seek out ways for our government to solve problems in the face of increased polarization.
Going forward, the Democracy Fund will collaborate with its peers to drive funds towards major gaps in the field. We will seek to complement our grant making with more direct involvement in pursuing our goals through advocacy, research, thought leadership, and convening. We will maintain a strong commitment to pursue bipartisan solutions to the challenges facing our political system.
Pierre has become Chairman of our new Board of Directors and will remain the sole funder of our work. I will transition from my role as Director to become President of the Democracy Fund. Tom Glaisyer and Adam Ambrogi will continue to direct our initiatives on Informed Participation and Responsive Politics respectively. They will be joined later this year by a third Program Director for our initiative on Problem Solving and Governance.
We are also pleased to share that Senior Consultant for Operations Margaret Yao will be joined by Tony Bowen as our Manager of Operations, Finance, and Grants Management. Natalie Adona and Megan Mohr have also joined our team as our first Democracy Fellows. Several additional members of the Democracy Fund will be announced in the coming weeks and months as we continue to grow our team.
We are deeply grateful to our colleagues at Omidyar Network who have served as mentors, partners, and friends over the past three years. Their work to create a world of positive returns inspires us and we continue to be guided by their values. Without their patient support and counsel, the Democracy Fund would not be the organization that it is today. We look forward to continued collaboration to advance our respective goals.
The Fourth of July is a time for us to reflect upon the founding values and vision of our nation. While the dream of a country that is truly governed “of, by, and for the people” may sometimes feel out of our reach, it is incumbent upon each of us to do our part as Americans to continue to carry the torch of democracy and combat those forces and trends that threaten to extinguish it. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable…Every step towards the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” At the Democracy Fund, we are honored to have the opportunity and resources to contribute to this important struggle and hope that you will join us in the days, months, and years to come.
At this moment of transition and possibility, we remain as inspired as ever by the potential for the American people to come together and rise to meet the historic challenges facing our political system.