Democracy Program Grant

From The Joyce Foundation

We invest in evidence-informed public policies and strategies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin.

Grant uses


The Democracy Program pursues its mission to build a more equitable democracy by striving for participation and representation of all people who call the Great Lakes home. This work focuses on three key underpinnings of a functional and equitable democracy.

Voting Rights and Elections

Protecting voting rights and well-run elections are the very heart of a functioning democracy. Elections should be free, fair, accessible, and trusted. Yet, far too often, our elections fall short of that aspiration. We support four interrelated areas of work: (1) protect and expand voting rights and access to the vote; (2) support research and policy solutions to remedy voting barriers that are a product of systemic racism or have discriminatory impact; (3) support election administration best practices and adequate resources; and (4) counter efforts to undermine safe and trusted elections. These initiatives will encompass work throughout the policy spectrum – research and testing, policy development, public education and engagement, policy and legal advocacy, support for implementation, and evaluation and refinement.

Fair Representation

In a healthy democracy, representation should be determined by the electorate in a fair, transparent, and accountable process. Our approach here involves two initiatives.

First, we will support adoption and implementation of fair redistricting policies and practices within the Great Lakes states. We will support proactive efforts to achieve reform, as well as implementation in states that have adopted redistricting reform to help them run effectively and to learn from their experiences. We will also support defensive work to push back against gerrymandering and other efforts to draw districts behind closed doors.

Second, the shifting legal landscape in how federal courts treat redistricting and representation issues has caused a great deal of uncertainty, both for the development and adoption of new redistricting policies and the implementation of existing systems. In response, we will support the development and application of solutions to major legal landscape changes impacting redistricting, such as the continued erosion of the Voting Rights Act and the emergence of fringe legal theories like the Independent State Legislature Theory.

Census Data Accuracy

The 2020 decennial census experienced multiple complex problems that impacted census operations and, ultimately, appears to have impacted the quality of census data. The Foundation will support three census-related initiatives: (1) assess the impact of 2020 census problems on data quality, including the extent of any inaccuracies overall and with respect to specific subpopulations; (2) support corrective action to remedy census data integrity and alternative options to improve the accuracy of census data for certain uses, so that undercounted communities are not deprived of their fair share of resources for the rest of the decade; and (3) policy improvements for future censuses gleaned from assessment of the 2020 census.


Organization's Location
Program Location
Organization Type


Capital campaigns
Endowment campaigns
Direct service programs
Commercial ventures
Religious activities
25k – 250k


Step 1: Letter of Inquiry
Application deadlines
Jun 6
Oct 7
Step 2: Full proposal (invite only)
Required Attachments
Letter of Inquiry (LOI)