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Publication date: 
September, 2017

San Diego Grantmakers hosted the Strengthening Democracy Summit on September 19 at the Jacobs Center in South East San Diego. In addition to the keynote speakers - Judy Belk, Kristen Cambell, and Dr. Carl Luna - we were thrilled that Sarah de Guia, Executive Director, California Pan-Ethnic Health NetworkDelores Jacobs, CEO of The Center, and Ismahan Abdullahi, Director of Civic Engagement and Community Partnerships, PANA (Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans) joined panel moderator Judy Belk on stage for an informative afternoon session on ‘Stories of Democracy in Action’.  

The panel represented both nonprofit leadership and community leaders who shared personal stories, impacts of the current environment, and examples of their civic engagement strategies, and also built on the earlier learning’s of the PACE Civic Engagement Primer addressing the systems of Civic Infrastructure, Advocacy & Public Policy, and Deliberative Democracy.

What is the State of Democracy in SD?

Dr. Carl Luna, Director, USD’s Institute for Civil Civic Engagement

Dr. Luna  set the tone of the event by providing a nonpartisan analysis of the current state of democracy both locally and nationally and offer local examples of where civic engagement would have been helpful. He also shared his insight on “restoring civility to civil dialogue”, while offering his recommendations for strengthening democracy in San Diego.               

What is Civic Engagement?

Kristen Cambell, Executive Director, Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE)              

Kristen framed the summit’s goals and outcomes by sharing PACE’s Civic Engagement Primer as foundation for learning – focusing on civic infrastructure, advocacy/public policy, community organizing, and leadership development. She also shared tools and examples about how philanthropy can participate at all levels.

One Funders Story – Why now?              

Judy Belk, CEO of The California Wellness Foundation

Judy gave candid examples of how a large scale state funder is making funding decisions around civic engagement and democracy and share - through her own journey and that of the foundation - why this matters and how you too can adjust your priorities based on a shifting landscape.

Event Overview:

Current changes in the public policy arena have the potential to significantly impact our democracy, civil liberties, and those who are in our most vulnerable communities. The relevant issues range from equity and race, immigrant and refugee populations, freedom of the press, counting the undercounted in the census, voter rights, access to healthcare, incidents of hate, policies impacting the sciences, climate and environment, proposals to eliminate agencies such as the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for Humanities, and Public Broadcasting.

Regardless of one’s political perspective or the issues funded, we are all in this together and need to prepare for this shifting environment. Join us on this opportunity to focus and reflect on how to Strengthen Democracy in San Diego, and find allies as you continue your important philanthropic work.

The half-day summit was a space to learn what your fellow funders, community, and civic leaders are doing and share your own thinking on how this is or may be affecting your funding strategies. Regardless of one’s political perspective or the issues funded, we are all in this together and need to prepare for this shifting environment. Join us on this opportunity to focus and reflect on how to Strengthen Democracy in San Diego, and find allies as you continue your important philanthropic work.

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