Joyce Program Democracy

A healthy, stable democracy that is representative of the public interest.

A government truly of, by and for the people— requires citizen access: access to information from a strong, independent and trusted media, access to genuine involvement in policy making, and most important of all, access to the ballot. But free exercise of democratic rights and the functioning of democratic governance in the United States are currently being threatened. Given the urgency of achieving a fully representative democracy, protecting it against ongoing efforts to restrict the right to vote, and ensuring that it is informed by a vigorous and independent news media, the Democracy Program will focus on two critical, high-potential areas: fair elections and media.

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Fair Elections

A strong and inclusive democracy—founded on the values of liberty, equality and justice—is one in which citizens are informed and engaged, elected officials are accountable to their constituents, and public policies are enacted for the common good. But in states across the country, democracy is being undermined by well-funded, highly organized forces whose agenda includes efforts to impede and suppress voter participation and gerrymander congressional and legislative districts. The implementation of voter ID, restrictions on early voting and unfounded claims of “voter fraud” are just a few examples of these efforts. The results of these and many other such actions lead to unequal and unfair representation, reduced voter participation in local or mid-term elections, increasingly toxic levels of partisanship, and crippling mistrust of government. Through a combination of litigation and public engagement efforts, the Joyce Foundation will seek change to expand voting rights, reform the redistricting process and ensure a fair and accurate count for the 2020 Census.

Goal

Increase voter access and participation in a fair and representative democracy.


Objectives

Media

A strong free press is one of the vital signs of a healthy democracy. But transformative changes wrought by technology and other factors have fundamentally altered the media landscape, diminishing the ability of the “Fourth Estate” to fully assert its role as guardian of democracy. An already fragile media ecosystem is at risk of further erosion because of circulation and revenue declines, consolidations, and resulting newsroom layoffs.  The Joyce Foundation will seek to help build and sustain emerging media that are helping to fill the gap, and in doing so strengthen democracy in the region.

Goal

Strengthen independent public-interest media in the Great Lakes states as a vital component of a healthy democracy, and deepen understanding of challenges that must be addressed to help ensure broad, shared prosperity in the region.

What We Fund

We focus on initiatives that make an impact on the Great Lakes region.

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How To Apply

Learn about our submission process for applying for a grant.

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Our Research & Reports

Explore our research and reports on Democracy. 

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