In the News: Major Funders Bet Big on Rural America and ‘Everyday Democracy’

The Chronicle of Philanthropy puts a spotlight on the Trust’s first cohort of grantees. While the work of these local civic hubs may seem like traditional community development, the Trust sees these efforts as key to shoring up democracy.

From the article: “The trust announced $8 million in funding, the first installment of what it says will be investments of $50 million over five years. Grantees exemplify what the trust calls ‘everyday democracy’ as they bring people together to address often-fundamental concerns, whether that’s a fading industry, a dilapidated park, or access to quality health care.”

“Pragmatic problem-solving is the most effective way to build trust and counter polarization. Efforts don’t have to be labeled ‘democracy’ or ‘civic’ to contribute toward a stronger democracy.”

Charlie Brown, Trust for Civic Life Executive Director

The Chronicle notes a few takeaways about the Trust: this marks a rare investment by national philanthropy in small groups in rural America, the Trust grantees don’t look like groups that many other democracy-minded funders are backing, and rural communities and communities in transition can be seen as “democracy laboratories.”

Read the full article at

“These are remarkable examples of citizens just coming together and saying, ‘We’ve got to fix something.’”

Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund