PACE has been stepping into its role as a philanthropic laboratory, which is both our mission, identity, and our way of being in the world. To us, a philanthropic laboratory is a collective space for philanthropy where learning is participatory and actionable, and over the last year, we have grown in appreciation for the value and design of our philanthropic laboratory. You can read those reflections in our post: What is a philanthropic laboratory?

This is a guest post from our friends at Over Zero, contributed by their Executive Director, Rachel Brown, and Regional Director, Laura Livingston.

In the wake of the January 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection, addressing risks for political violence remains an urgent priority. Preventing future violence requires understanding and creating resilience to the dynamics and vulnerabilities that brought us to the current moment.

The horrifying events of January 6 were neither a surprise nor something that materialized overnight. The violence was the result of mounting risk factors deeply rooted in American politics and society, including:

  • democratic disillusionment and weakening institutions;
  • inflammatory…

While George Washington is credited as the first to say it, many have embraced the idea of the United States as “The Great Experiment.” In a letter dated in 1790, Washington expresses that the establishment of the new American government seemed to be “the last great experiment for promoting human happiness, by reasonable compact, in civil society.” Over two centuries later, on January 20, 2021, newly inaugurated Vice President Kamala Harris said: “A great experiment takes great determination. The will to do the work, and then the wisdom to keep refining, keep tinkering, keep perfecting.”

This culture of experimentation, innovation…

Every year, PACE hosts a series of gatherings for its members and we save one meeting for the end of the year. It provides a way for the PACE community of funders to reflect on the year, assess the state of civic engagement, and begin to put shape around priorities for the year ahead.

We convened our membership in early December, and after a year like 2020, this year-end meeting was unlike any other. We decided the best use of our time together as a community was to engage with this guiding thematic question: With the backdrop of all the…

On November 12, 2020 — just days after votes were cast in the 2020 Presidential Election — PACE Executive Director, Kristen Cambell sat down with Eddie Torres, president & CEO of Grantmakers in the Arts, to discuss the election season as part of the GIA Podcast series. Kristen and Eddie’s conversation touched on a variety of topics, ranging from common misperceptions of civic engagement, the responsibility of funders to keep civic engagement momentum going after the election, and the role that artists can play in shaping our civic lives.

Listen to the full podcast here, and find the transcript of…

By John Esterle, The Whitman Institute; Malka Kopell, Civity; Palma Strand, Civity

The PACE mission is to serve as a “philanthropic laboratory for funders seeking to maximize their impact on democracy and civic life in America.” PACE member John Esterle of The Whitman Institute, along with Malka Kopell and Palma Strand of the non-profit Civity, speaks directly to this mission in “It’s All About Relationships: Systems-Based Changemaking.”

Esterle, Kopell, and Strand highlight the systemic nature of current intractable challenges such as COVID, racism, and political polarization. …

By Dora Muhammad, Congregation Engagement Director, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy

Photo Credit: Liam R.E. Quin

Autumn is my favorite season of the year. The nip in the winds gently taps on the shoulder to remind us that life is still present even as we see things passing away. It is refreshing to deeply inhale the crisp air that stirs our bodies. The gradient colors of the leaves wisping to the ground, gathered around the trunks of trees, leaving their final beauty mark on the earth to herald the oncoming winter.


As the yearlong push of voter education, mobilization and protection staggered one…

By Malka Ranjana Kopell

As I sit and reflect at the end of a very long election, just days after a new president has been elected, I am moved to think about trust.

There has been lots of talk about trust lately — or more accurately, about its loss. Loss of trust in our leaders. Loss of trust in government. Loss of trust in our democratic process. Loss of trust in each other.

My organization, Civity, supports connection and trust-building through conversation across societal divides. So I was excited recently to have the opportunity to spend some time really focusing…

There are five days left for ballots to be cast in an election season that some have called the most important of our lifetime. The stakes feel very high, and many — including leaders across philanthropy — are urging leaders at all levels of government and across all sectors of society to uphold their obligations to democracy and ensure a free, fair, and safe election season.

While many are understandably focused on the integrity of the election and its fair administration, we have also heard particular concern within our community about its aftermath: When will there be results? Will Americans…

Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE)

A network of foundations and funders committed to civic engagement and democratic practice. Visit our publication at:

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