Democracy Program Grant Opportunity

The Essentials

Through 5pm CT on Monday, October 5th, 2020 the Democracy Program is accepting Letters of Inquiry (LOI) to support programs and organizations working in our three Focus Areas: Strengthen Local Journalism, Engage Youth Civically and Invigorate Public Institutions. Grant requests may be for work in any Focus Area and should be over $50,000.

How to Apply for a Grant

Visit the Democracy Program’s “Apply for a Grant” page where you will find our funding criteria (e.g. you must be a 501(c)(3)nonprofit), a timeline for our review process, and a link to the online portal through which you must submit your LOI.

What is an LOI?

The LOI is the first stage in our two-stage application process for evaluating grant requests. The first stage of the process serves as an introduction for the Democracy Program staff to your organization and the work you propose to undertake during the grant period and how it aligns with our strategy. The LOI provides helpful information on:

  1. Administrative Aspects: Grant Amount and Term, Organizational Tax Status, Application Contact Person, Organization Annual Budget, and Program Budget if requesting Program Support
  2. Approach to Equity: Specifically, the racial/ethnic inequities in our democracy that concern your organization and how your activities will reduce those inequities as well as your approach to centering equity within your internal operation.

What Do We Look For?

The Democracy Program seeks partners that are committed to achieving an equitable democracy by addressing inequities in civic engagement and by strengthening inclusive practices in their organizations. We also want partners that recognize and center the lived experiences of the communities of color we must better include in our democracy. Within the “Engage Youth Civically” strategy, we are interested in how partners embed a “Lived Civics” approach for improving civic learning and organizational supports in schools. In order to “Strengthen Local Journalism”, we are intentionally looking for partners that center communities in their work, especially to achieve the civic mission of news. As we work to “Invigorate Public Institutions,” we want our institutions to be reflective of the communities that they serve. If we are going to eliminate racial disparities in our democracy, we need partners with the lived experience and cultural competencies necessary to design effective solutions for these pressing challenges.

To learn more about how the Democracy Program seeks to advance racial equity in its work, read our most recent statement on Assessing Diversity, Advancing Equity.

Additionally, as we read LOIs, we are also interested in the following topics:

  1. Strategic Fit: To what extent does this work connect with the Democracy Program’s mission and strategy and address the inequities we see in journalism, youth civic engagement, and public institutions?
  2. What can we learn? Given our limited resources, we are forced to pick among many worthy projects. Successful LOI applicants enter a months-long review process, generally because they have a strong strategic fit and hold the strongest promise to help the fields in which we are working advance.

Next Steps

If the Democracy Program reviews your application and determines that there is a compelling rationale for a prospective or continued partnership, you will receive an invitation to submit additional application materials that will further explore how the proposed work will address the inequities that you are trying to address. An invitation to the second stage of the application process is not a commitment to fund the proposed organization and/or work. Instead, it is a commitment to learn more about your work so that the staff can determine if there is sufficient evidence to bring a final recommendation to fund to McCormick’s Board of Directors. Ultimately, the Board votes to decide on all funding decisions.

Learning More

To learn more about the Democracy Program’s strategy and how you might be able to support its advancement, visit our website and read our articles about our strategy.


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