Civil Society and Leadership Initiative

We support leaders, organizations, and movements as they work towards collective change while fostering a thriving civil society.

Civil society is a sector of society where individuals, organizations, and movements come together to address societal challenges, advance shared interests, and create positive change. When civil society is strong, leaders and organizations enable strong governance in their communities and build inclusive institutions that foster dialogue, collaboration, accountability, and civic participation. A strong civil society is essential to achieve progress toward our collective goals of a healthy climate, an ocean that sustains us, gender equity, thriving families and communities, and a just society.

Across the globe, we are witnessing threats to civil society. It is estimated that more than two billion people, or 28% of the world’s population, live in countries with a closed civic space. These are places where there are significant restrictions on the rights of assembly, association, and speech, accompanied by an increase in intimidation, detainment, and harassment of civil society leaders. When civil society becomes constrained by a lack of resources and supports, or when civic space is threatened or closed, progress becomes stunted.

We support civil society partners to ensure they have the resources and capabilities to work toward their mission. We do this by investing in the skills and strengths of leaders and organizations through coaching and mentorship programs, resource hubs, and peer support spaces. We also fund the support systems, institutions, and cross-issue networks and movements that facilitate, engage, and sustain civil society organizations working for the well-being of their communities and society. Additionally, we support maintaining and strengthening inclusive, robust civic spaces — environments where people can exercise their rights, express diverse viewpoints, assemble, and organize without fear of undue consequences.

Our aim is to ensure that, across all the issues we fund at the Packard Foundation, partners have the resources and capacity to achieve their goals under increasingly challenging circumstances. Working together, we hope to better address the barriers to change, not just for our grantees, but for many of the actors who compose civil society.