Public Agenda’s Democracy Renewal Project catalyzes rigorous, actionable research on promising practices and interventions to strengthen American democracy. The project serves the democracy renewal movement with research and communication infrastructure to test reforms and interventions, refine promising practices, and share what we are learning with people who can use it. The Democracy Renewal Project will help make the efforts of practitioners more effective and the investments of funders more efficient.

Americans across the political spectrum believe that our democracy is at risk. Despite real divisions, a growing body of evidence shows that Americans with disparate political perspectives share a sense of frustration and dissatisfaction with our current system.

An ideologically diverse movement has emerged to address the challenges facing American democracy. But practical on-the-ground efforts are hampered by a lack of relevant, actionable evidence showing what approaches are likely to work. And we are not building on existing knowledge to refine interventions and practices in ways that fit changing circumstances and diverse communities.

The Democracy Renewal Project is the inaugural application of Public Agenda’s new Research Accelerator model, a method for catalyzing, translating, synthesizing, and communicating rigorous research on practice-relevant questions about how to strengthen American democracy. Public Agenda will solicit proposals, distribute grant funds to researchers, translate and synthesize findings, and share them with advocates, practitioners, policymakers, journalists, and philanthropists.

Public Agenda has a long history of conducting research on critical questions for our democracy and providing tools and resources for advocates, policymakers, and public leaders to turn that knowledge into action. With capacity for both research and engagement, Public Agenda is uniquely suited to serve as a network hub for applied research in support of the movement for democracy renewal.

Announcing the inaugural Democracy Renewal Project research cycle

The first Democracy Renewal Project research cycle is focused on how we can achieve full access to electoral participation for all citizens while strengthening trust in elections, two essential elements of the legitimacy and sustainability of our democracy. The cycle is timed to enable researchers to take full advantage of the 2024 presidential election cycle. 

Advisory Panel

Sylvia Albert

Democracy and Representation Policy Counsel, Common Cause

Katherine Cramer, professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is pictured in the atrium of Discovery Building on campus on Sept. 20, 2023. Kathy Cramer is a political opinion expert and the Natalie C. Holton Chair in the UW–Madison College of Letters & Science.  (Photo by Althea Dotzour / UW–Madison)
Katherine Cramer

Natalie C. Holton Chair of Letters and Science & Virginia Sapiro Professor of Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Ashley Fabrizio, Ph.D

Senior Researcher, More In Common

El Mallawany 2
Deana El-Mallawany

Counsel & Director of Impact Programs, Democratic Resilience, Protect Democracy

Donald P. Green

J.W. Burgess Professor of Political Science, Columbia University

Zoltan Hajnal

Professor & Co-Director of the Yankelovich Center for Social Science Research, University of California San Diego

Vincent Hutchings

Diversity and Social Transformation Professor & Hanes Walton Jr. Collegiate Professor of Political Science and Afroamerican and African Studies, University of Michigan

Dr. Melissa R. Michelson

Dean of Arts and Sciences, Menlo College

Thania Sanchez

Senior Vice President, Research and Policy Development, States United Democracy Center

Institutional affiliations are provided here for identification only, and do not indicate endorsement.

Request for Proposals

The application period for the first Democracy Renewal Project cycle has concluded. You can view award recipients here.

Do you have a question that’s not covered in the RFP? You may find it in our FAQ document for this grant cycle.

Research & Reports

The Latest