City Bureau

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Lever for Change Stronger Democracy Awardee

Public meetings are workshops for democracy, where members of a community can witness, learn about, and act on the systems that impact their lives. But as local journalism collapses, many local government meetings happen with no oversight or input from the public—a systemic failure of our civic information system, and a critical missed opportunity for genuine democracy.

City Bureau’s Documenters Network has supported organizations in 11 cities to organize, train, and pay more than 2,000 people who attend and annotate government meetings. Documenters are a diverse and intergenerational group sharing trustworthy information in their communities and building new infrastructure for democratic participation from the ground up.

The growth of the Documenters Network will have transformative impacts on American democracy. Tens of thousands of Documenters connected and enabled with training and technology will create a more equitable foundation for local media, more accountable policymaking, and a groundswell of participation in local government.

The Stronger Democracy Award is a competition to identify bold solutions addressing systemic barriers and advancing structural reforms in three key areas of U.S. democracy: Voting and elections, policymaking, and civic engagement. The Award is managed by Lever for Change, a nonprofit affiliate of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation that uses open and transparent competitions to help donors identify and fund high-impact solutions for significant societal challenges.

Funding Opportunities
• A gift of $1 million enables City Bureau to hire staff for new Documenters programs and improve open-source technology,
tools, and learning resources.
• A gift of $5 million enables City Bureau to establish network hubs covering nine regions across the U.S., laying the groundwork for a national infrastructure.


Organization Information

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