New $12 Million Award Launched to Strengthen Democracy in the United States

The Stronger Democracy Award Seeks to Fund Bold Solutions to Improve Political Representation and Increase Citizen Participation

Chicago, Illinois, March 25, 2021 – Today, Lever for Change and ICONIQ Impact announced the launch of the Stronger Democracy Award (“the Award”)—a $12 million award to fund solutions that will drive structural reforms to help improve political representation and increase participation of all citizens in the United States’ democratic process.

The Award, sponsored by Additional Ventures, with support from philanthropists Cipora and Vlado Herman, will fund bold solutions that address systemic barriers and advance structural reforms in areas such as voting and elections, policymaking, and/or civic engagement. The Award recipient will receive $10 million from Additional Ventures, while Cipora and Vlado Herman will make a separate grant of $2 million to one of the five finalist teams.

“Through this award, we aim to fund innovative, bold solutions to strengthen our democracy and make our government more representative and responsive to the lives of all citizens in the United States,” said Erin Hoffmann, co-founder of Additional Ventures. “We look forward to funding organizations with bold ideas, which will not only improve our democracy but also strengthen the trust citizens have in their elected institutions.”

The scale of the Award seeks to strengthen democracy in the United States. The donors invite others to join their efforts, so that all five of the top-ranked solutions that emerge through this process will be funded.

“Democracy works best with engaged citizens and government representatives who are accountable to their constituents,” said Cipora Herman. “Events in recent months evidence systemic obstacles that prevent full and fair access to voting and representation, and highlight widespread mistrust of our democratic institutions. We hope that more of our fellow philanthropists will join the Stronger Democracy Award to help catalyze much-needed change."

This Award is the second in a series of grant competitions facilitated by Lever for Change in collaboration with ICONIQ Impact, following the Larsen Lam ICONIQ Impact Award, a competition launched last year sponsored by Chris Larsen and Lyna Lam to secure a brighter, more durable future for refugees worldwide.

Launched in 2019, ICONIQ Impact is a global platform for collective, collaborative philanthropy. ICONIQ Impact’s partnership with Lever for Change helps donors like Additional Ventures, and Cipora and Vlado Herman, to identify philanthropic opportunities through open, transparent, and rigorously evaluated competitions that allow them to find and fund solutions to the greatest social issues of our time.

“We are proud to provide our clients with this platform for collaborative philanthropy, and be part of an effort to identify and support organizations doing excellent work in such an important area,” said Michael Anders, founding partner of ICONIQ Capital. “ICONIQ Impact was established to help pool and channel the collective mindshare, expertise and capital in our network towards initiatives that can meaningfully drive social impact at scale. These Awards are an opportunity to support some of the brightest minds and change agents in their respective fields, and it has been inspiring to see individuals step up to support this Award, as well as our previously-announced ICONIQ Impact Award dedicated to securing a better future for refugees. We look forward to continuing to provide our clients new ways to get involved with worthwhile philanthropic opportunities, both through this Award as well as others in the future.”

The Award is being managed by Lever for Change, a nonprofit that helps donors find and fund solutions to the world’s greatest challenges, including racial and gender equity, economic development, and climate change.

“The Stronger Democracy Award is arriving at a critical time, when according to the Pew Charitable Trusts, only 17 percent of Americans in 2020 expressed trust in government to do what’s right,” said Cecilia Conrad, CEO of Lever for Change. “This Award seeks to redress the imbalances within our political system and restore confidence in our democracy.”

To apply to the competition, organizations must register online before June 22, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. PT. Complete applications are due by July 22, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. PT and will undergo several rounds of rigorous evaluation, including an administrative review, peer-to-peer review, and a final evaluation by a panel of experts.

Competitive applications must include transformative, scalable, innovative and feasible solutions. The Stronger Democracy Award is open to U.S. non-profit organizations or teams led by a U.S. non-profit organization. More details can be found on the Award website:

Donors interested in providing additional funding for this competition should contact Dana Rice, Vice President of Philanthropy at Lever for Change.


Additional Ventures

Additional Ventures is a purpose-driven organization leveraging evidence-based research and deep subject matter expertise to make an outsized impact. Our relentless optimism powers bold, high-risk innovations to solve some of humanity’s most complex challenges.

ICONIQ Capital

ICONIQ Capital is a privately held investment firm that advises and invests on behalf of some of the world’s most influential families and organizations. We create investment opportunities and strategies for our clients to manage their lives, philanthropy, and legacy. Differentiated by an exceptional ecosystem of entrepreneurs backing entrepreneurs, our investment platform drives transformation at the intersection of technology and traditional industries. ICONIQ Capital is dedicated to improving the world by channeling ideas, talent, and capital to initiatives that advance society.


ICONIQ Impact is a global platform for collaborative philanthropy. Supported by ICONIQ Capital’s passionate network of families, founders, and portfolio companies across industries, we strive to break down silos in philanthropy and scale giving for social change through collaborative initiatives. ICONIQ Impact’s goal is to guide philanthropic capital to social entrepreneurs and organizations with scalable models to have an outsized, measurable impact on the world’s most urgent problems.

Lever for Change
Lever for Change, a nonprofit affiliate of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, helps donors to find and fund solutions to the world’s greatest challenges, ranging from racial and gender equity to economic development and climate change. Building on the success of the MacArthur Foundation’s $100 million competition, 100&Change, Lever for Change customizes and manages open and transparent competitions for donors. In addition, we match donors with nonprofits and social enterprises in our Bold Solutions Network whose solutions to significant social challenges were highly ranked after rigorous evaluation in one of our competitions. Currently, Lever for Change is managing nine competitions, ranging in size from $10-to-100 million, awarding $295 million to grant recipients and strengthening dozens of top organizations. For more information, visit


Lever for Change

Marc Moorghen, Communications Director

[email protected]

ICONIQ Capital / ICONIQ Impact

Alyssa Lorenzo, Michelle Van Wyk, Jenny MacMichael

[email protected]

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