Advancing Democracy Through Civic Engagement Among People of Color.

What is CPAF?

We live in a time of growing racial and economic disparities that leave too many people on the sidelines in our democracy. CPAF is working to address this crisis by increasing participation in elections and the democratic process, particularly among people of color.

CPAF is a non-partisan funder committed to creating a policy environment at the state level that is more responsive to voters of color. Created in 2015 by a grant from the Atlantic Advocacy Fund, the 501(c)4 arm of The Atlantic Philanthropies, CPAF is a limited life initiative that supports high-impact civic engagement efforts addressing racial and economic disparity.

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The Civic Participation Action Fund is a non-partisan 501(c)4 grantmaking organization created by a grant from the Atlantic Advocacy Fund, an arm of the Atlantic Philanthropies. We fund projects and organizations that expand civic engagement and create a more favorable policy environment for low income communities and communities of color throughout the United States.

We work largely with communities that have been left out of the political process to help them gain a stronger, more influential voice in elections and in the legislative process. We believe that engaging low income people and people of color in voting and grassroots advocacy will contribute to policy change that is more responsive to their needs and interests and to a better functioning democracy.

We look for funding opportunities at the state and local levels that can shape the policy environment and drive policy wins. CPAF funds activities that help build nonpartisan political power around issues that are important to local communities of color. We also fund base building activities that increase the capacity of local organizations to increase the civic engagement of low income and communities of color.

We support work primarily at the state and local levels in states where there are sizeable communities of color whose issues are not well represented by elected officials.

We are especially interested in partnering with other funders to expand the pool of (c)4 resources and to improve the efficient use of all available resources dedicated to policy advocacy. Projects for which we can find matching (c)4 funds from either national or local funders are given priority.

Our grantmaking is by invitation only. Because we operate with a very small staff, we do not have the resources to respond to unsolicited proposals.

What We Fund

Our mission is to promote progressive policy change that will improve the lives of low-income people of color through advocacy and civic engagement. We want to make sure the electorate looks like America, and that our democracy is representative of all the people. Our overarching goal is to see more people voting and engaging in Democracy—particularly low-income people of color.
Our objectives
  1. Improve the policy environment in selected states to improve the lives of low income people of color
  2. Foster full civic engagement among communities of color and those disadvantaged by low income, ethnicity, or age
  3. Build power that ensures local progressive groups and their constituents will have a strong voice in shaping public policies affecting their lives
  4. Increase the availability and efficient use of philanthropic resources available for advocacy on issues central to the mission of this fund
Programs and projects we support
  1. Projects that ensure the existence of a policy agenda on which local groups align and which advance the interests of low income people of color
  2. Campaigns that engage low income communities and communities of color
  3. Programs that strengthen the muscle of community organizing groups, especially those representing and led by people of color
  4. Advocacy and electoral activities that are appropriate for a 501(c)4 social welfare organizations and that cannot be advanced by other types of funding
  5. Projects and programs that are innovative and that will add to the knowledge base to help inform future philanthropy, especially 501(c)4 philanthropy
  6. Opportunities for inviting other funders to contribute 501(c)4 funds and that improve the efficient use of various types of funding for advocacy purposes
Types of programs and projects we do NOT support
  1. Overtly partisan
  2. Mostly transactional and don’t contribute to lasting capacity in communities
  3. Unlikely to culminate in some degree of success by 2020

Leadership and Staff


Before assuming the role of President of CPAF, Mr. McConnell spent 7 years at the Atlantic Philanthropies, the last three of which as Country Director for U.S. Programs. Previous experience includes 19 years as Vice President for Public Policy for the Alzheimer’s Association and 7 years on Capitol Hill, as Chief of Staff for the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging and as a professional staff member for the U.S. House of Representatives, Select Committee on Aging. Mr. McConnell earned both his Ph.D. in Sociology and a B.A. from the University of Southern California.

Senior Vice President

Katherine Peck comes to CPAF after nine years as senior vice president at the Gill Foundation, where she provided strategic and operational leadership of a diverse portfolio of policy advocacy programs and nationwide grants. Previous experience includes 4 years as vice president for programs at the Rose Community Foundation and 17 years practicing law with a large Denver-based law firm. She earned her JD from the Sturm College of Law, University of Denver and her B.A. from Kent State University.

Administrative Services Manager

Meagan Gallagher joins CPAF from the corporate sector where she has worked numerous years in a variety of support roles in human resources, finance, and law. She earned her MBA from University of Maryland University College and her B.A. in International Business from Maryville College.