Democracy Fund

The Democracy Fund invests in organizations working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people.

Democracy Fund


The healthy democracy framework was developed through an iterative and participatory process, led by Democracy Fund staff and consultants and guided by an eight-member, bipartisan academic advisory group. We began with a comprehensive literature review of more than 70 books, articles, and popular press pieces, which informed a series of semi-structured interviews with field experts, as well as our staff and board. The emerging framework was then workshopped over multiple sessions with Democracy Fund staff and board members. The academic advisers weighed in at multiple points in the process, providing guidance and pushing for clarity.

A key moment in the development of the framework occurred during the Democracy Fund National Advisory Committee meeting in early 2017. Over the course of a day and a half, National Advisory Committee members provided targeted feedback, debated the nuances associated with certain words and phrases — especially with regard to partisan and polarizing language — and connected the language and intent of the framework back to Democracy Fund’s mission and values. Our staff and board members emerged from that meeting with a deeper appreciation for the inherent tensions embedded in the framework and, more broadly, in our democracy.

The framework, as it stands, today has greatly benefited from these various pieces of input, advice, and guidance, and we are deeply grateful to our advisers, partners, staff, and board members. It represents the best of our thinking at the moment, yet we recognize it is not perfect and will continue to evolve as time goes by and as new lessons and insights become more apparent.

Members of the Academic Advisory Group:

Richard Boyd, Georgetown University
Pat Christen, DF Board Member
Archon Fung, Harvard Kennedy School
Kathleen Hall Jamieson, University of Pennsylvania
Frances Lee, University of Maryland
Spencer Overton, George Washington University
Rakesh Rajani, Ford Foundation (formerly)
John Samples, Cato Institute

Attendees of Democracy Fund’s 2017 Winter Strategy Retreat:

National Advisory Committee

Kristen Soltis Anderson
Hon. Robin Carnahan
Hon. Tom Davis
Juleanna Glover
Hon. Charles A. Gonzalez
Kathleen Hall Jamieson
Brett Loper
Geneva Overholser
Spencer Overton
Hon. Deborah Pryce
Ben Rattray
Sonal Shah
Anthea Watson Strong
Charles J. Sykes
Arturo Vargas
Ernie Wilson

Guest Voices

Mindy Finn
Henry Olsen
Marcie Parkhurst
Ashley Spillane

An invitation

Democracy Fund’s effort to create our healthy democracy framework drew heavily from the work of our nation’s founders, as well as from their modern contemporaries. We consulted Republicans, Democrats, and independents coming from a diverse range of expertise. Our debates were robust and messy. We’re grateful to all who contributed in this process. Any errors or omissions are our own.

We hope that parts of our vision and beliefs will resonate with those who care about the health of our republic. We also expect that the inclusion or omission of other topics or nuances may engender debate.

We would welcome your feedback. Please email us at or tweet to @democracyfund.