The has announced a three-year, $50 million initiative to help alleviate political polarization in the United States, with a special focus on Congress.
Initially, the Madison Initiative will make grants to assess whether and how it can help strengthen the nation's representative institutions so they are better able to address the major issues facing the country and do so in ways that work for the American people. If the results of its preliminary funding are seen as promising, the foundation will consider additional funding in 2017.
Taking its name from James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution and fourth president of the United States, the initiative will see the foundation joining forces with other funders, civic groups, and leaders in and outside of government to restore pragmatism and the spirit of compromise in Congress, working to reform campaign and election processes so that they set the stage for compromise and problem solving, and making grants to promote a more informed and active citizenry.
According to the foundation, the initiative is based on the premise that the health of a representative democracy is measured not by whether a particular policy is adopted but by whether its institutions are working in ways that most people find acceptable. To that end, the initiative will be explicitly bipartisan in nature and will engage with and support nonprofit grantees from the right, left, and center who share the goal of improving representative democracy.
"We are delighted to have the Hewlett Foundation joining this effort," said Ellen Alberding, president of the , a longtime funder in the area of democracy. "They are bringing a powerful vantage point and a collaborative spirit to their work, and we look forward to working with them to advance the goals we have in common."