Institutional Accountability and Individual Liberty

The Institutional Accountability and Individual Liberty program encourages the active participation of citizens in government, seeks to make government and private institutions more accountable and responsive, and supports efforts to ensure that individuals’ rights and liberties under the Constitution are protected. Past grants have included support for work to overcome roadblocks to registration and voting; efforts to expand access to government information; advocacy to promote electronic disclosure of campaign contributions; and a broad range of program initiatives aimed at holding government agencies and public officials accountable for their actions.


Democracy Project
Our democracy is in crisis. While voter participation rates vary across elections and demographics, some trends are clear: the electorate is older, Whiter, and more affluent than the country as a whole, resulting in a substantive disconnect between the population and our elected officials, at every level of government. There is also a growing mistrust in communities across the country in government’s willingness or ability to address critical issues related to inequality and justice. The Democracy Project works to counter these trends through support for organizations working to connect people of color, young people, and low-income people to their political power in ways that result in durable agency and voice in our democracy. The project is focusing its resources to incubate, scale, and sustain innovative and effective best practices that prioritize effective people-first community organizing and the development and deployment of authentic, values-based messages and narratives linked to civic engagement.

Representative Grants


Alliance for Justice
For its Justice Program.

Alliance for Youth Organizing
To organize and activate young voters by working with MOVE Texas, Leaders Igniting Transformation, and Chicago Votes.

Ballot Initiative Strategy Center Foundation
For research on messaging and voter engagement.

Campaign Legal Center
For emergency litigation against administrative actions that disenfranchise eligible voters prior to Election Day 2018.

Faith in Action
For research on the effectiveness of relational organizing to increase voter participation.

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
For voter protection programs



On July 22, Julie Fernandes, Associate Director for Institutional Accountability and Individual Liberty at RFF, participated in the Harvard Ash Center’s panel on “Protest, Mobilization, and the 2020 Election: The Role of Philanthropy.” She was joined by David Callahan from Inside Philanthropy, Crystal Hayling from the Libra Foundation, and Gara LaMarche from the Democracy Alliance. The panelists discussed why philanthropy tends to be risk-averse, who is seen as a legitimate voice in philanthropy, how grassroots organizations can get more access to funders, how philanthropy can be more involved in communities on the ground, and what philanthropy can do leading up and after the 2020 November election.