New Issue Brief Presents Strategies for Philanthropists to Counter Political Violence

WASHINGTON--()--New America, Over Zero and The Democracy Fund’s Just and Inclusive Society project today announced the digital release of a collaborative issue brief, Building U.S Resilience to Political Violence: A (Globally-Informed) Framework for Analysis and Action. The issue brief focuses on a resilience-based strategy for philanthropists and other actors to build relationships and strengthen U.S institutional resilience in light of the potential flashpoints for violence in 2020.

Within the paper, authors Dr. Nicole Argo Ben Itzhak, Rachel Brown, Heather Hurlburt, Laura Livingston, and Samantha Owens share insights and lessons learned from social science and international peacebuilding – positioning them amidst the specific U.S. experience – to elevate what is most likely to bolster U.S. resilience in the face of escalated risks for political violence.

At its core, this paper, and the approaches it describes, is about resilience. The authors present a powerful and practical resilience-based strategy for philanthropy to counter political violence.

“Resilience is, by definition, a whole-of-society strategy—it’s not a silver bullet solution,” said Tom Glaisyer, Managing Director of Program at the Democracy Fund. “But as data from Northern Ireland to Greensboro, North Carolina suggest, resilience works. And the time to implement it is now.”

The authors highlight four risk factors for violence:

1. Elite factionalization
2. Societal polarization
3. A rise in hate speech and rhetoric
4. Weakening democratic institutions

The authors also highlight several anecdotes and case studies that demonstrate what interventions have worked in the past and specifically, what funders and leaders can do both long-term and in the short-term to strengthen the foundations of a healthy democracy and society.

“Collectively, we know that funding resilience-building work on a reactive basis -- in the aftermath of a hate-fueled event -- is not enough to create real change. We need to go deeper and research global best practices on how to build community resilience before a violent event occurs,” said the authors.

The brief includes five immediate-term intervention approaches for philanthropies to consider:

1. Shaping group norms against violence
2. Supporting targeted communities
3. Laying the groundwork for coordinated responses to events that can trigger or escalate violence
4. Engage communication strategically
5. Protecting and strengthening existing capacities for resilience

To read the brief in full, or to learn more about the intervention approaches referenced above, download the full issue brief or


Over Zero works to prevent and reduce identity-based violence and other forms of group-targeted harm. Over Zero provides trainings and strategic advising, incubates promising approaches, and connects cross-sector research to practice.

The New Models of Policy Change Initiative at New America studies the intersection of politics and security, and how successful policy entrepreneurs overcome partisan gridlock.

Created by eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar, Democracy Fund is a foundation helping to ensure that our political system can withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Democracy Fund has invested more than $125 million in support of a healthy, resilient, and diverse democracy with a particular focus on modern elections, effective governance, and a vibrant public square.


Arron Neal, 213-568-3334

Release Summary

An issue brief by New America and Over Zero presents a powerful and practical resilience-based strategy for philanthropy to counter political violence


Arron Neal, 213-568-3334