Press Release
APR 19, 2021

Academy Receives $1M Grant from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund to Strengthen Democracy


[April 19, 2021 | Cambridge, MA] – The American Academy of Arts & Sciences has received a $1 million grant to support its efforts to strengthen democracy in America. This new funding from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund will advance the recommendations proposed by the Academy’s crosspartisan Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship in the landmark report, Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century.

Released in June 2020, Our Common Purpose, sets forth 31 actionable recommendations to help a nation in crisis emerge with a more resilient democracy. The report already has had a significant reach. It has been viewed online more than 145,000 times, downloaded more than 20,000 times, and more than 15,000 hard copies have been requested. Dozens of congressional representatives have been briefed, and the Academy is working with more than 50 champion organizations around the country to advance the recommendations in the report.

The Academy has now committed to a comprehensive five-year implementation plan leading up to the nation’s 250th anniversary in 2026.

Rockefeller Brothers Fund President and CEO Stephen Heintz, one of the cochairs of the commission, has long been a forceful advocate for the role of philanthropy in strengthening and sustaining democracy. The $1 million grant to the Academy responds to the urgency of the work ahead and provides a foundation for the Academy’s leadership in democratic reform. The grant is intended to both inspire others to join the effort and ensure a solid start on the implementation plan.

“The 31 recommendations of the Our Common Purpose report reflect the hopes and frustrations, fears and aspirations of hundreds of citizens across the country. The Academy’s unparalleled reputation and unique history, stretching back to the nation’s founding, powerfully position it to lead the implementation the report’s recommendations – and reinvent our democracy for the 21st century,” said Heintz. “I’m proud that the Rockefeller Brothers Fund will be able to support these critical efforts.”

The mission of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund is to advance social change that contributes to a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world.

“Our Common Purpose offers the right recommendations at the right time. With the right resources, we can move from idea to implementation,” said David Oxtoby, President of the Academy. “This funding is a powerful vote in favor of our ability to help forge a more inclusive, resilient, and responsive democracy. We are not only thrilled and grateful, but also ready.”

The Commission’s cochairs – Stephen Heintz with Danielle Allen (Harvard University) and Eric Liu (Citizen University) – will continue to lead the implementation of Our Common Purpose and are committed to remaining engaged through 2026 along with other Commission members, experts, champions, and Academy support.

Learn more about the Rockefeller Brothers Fund:




Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship

Danielle Allen, Stephen B. Heintz, and Eric P. Liu