USAID awards Pact, IREX, and partners two major awards to strengthen civil society and media for inclusive, representative, democratic societies
USAID has chosen Pact, IREX, and a consortium partners to lead two new regional programs, each titled Civil Society and Media—Strengthened Together and Advancing in New Directions (CSM-STAND). With one award focused on Africa, the Middle East, and North Africa and the other covering Asia, Europe, Eurasia, and Latin America and the Caribbean, these twin programs will achieve a global reach and partner with civic and media actors around the world.
The CSM-STAND programs, with a combined funding ceiling of $452 million, will foster innovative design and implementation of civil society and media programming, while partnering with local change agents to foster global learning.
Thriving, empowered civil society and media are key pillars of democratic governance. Yet in many countries, declining social trust, shrinking civic space, and disinformation undermine the ability of civil society and media to function and serve the people they are intended to represent and inform. Despite important examples of progress, global indices such as Freedom House’s Freedom in the World report attest to the fact that democratic backsliding remains a global trend, and too many countries are marked by authoritarian governance, erosions of basic freedoms, and restrictions on independent media.
Even within the most restrictive environments, dedicated civic and media activists work to serve and inform their constituencies, sometimes at great risk. Through CSM-STAND, Pact, IREX, and our partners will work closely with USAID missions, regional bureaus, and independent offices to leverage and strengthen civil society and media’s capacities to credibly represent citizen interests and hold governments accountable through advocacy, oversight, and outreach. We will catalyze local, regional, and cross-regional approaches that foster independent civic forces, enhance civic engagement, and build vibrant, resilient, and sustainable civil society and media sectors.
Our consortiums include talented global, regional, and technical partners with proven expertise and commitment to strengthening civil society and media. In addition to Pact, our partners include the Aga Khan Foundation, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, and the Asia Foundation. In Africa, the Middle East, and North Africa, our regional partners are AfriLabs, Arab Network for Civic Education, Samir Kassir Foundation, Sonke Gender Justice, and West Africa Civil Society Institute. In Asia, Europe, Eurasia, and Latin America and the Caribbean, our regional partners are the European Journalism Centre, MAKAIA, Prague Civil Society Centre, FORUM-ASIA, and Fundación Gabo. Across both projects, we’ve assembled an innovative team of technical partners, including Moonshot CVE, Omdena, and TechSoup.
"Our team at IREX is honored to partner with USAID, Pact, and our consortium partners to implement the CSM-STAND programs," said IREX President and CEO Kristin Lord. "We look forward to working in partnership with citizens across multiple continents to strengthen civil society and independent media at a time of increasing repression by autocrats and persistent threats from extremist actors. Accountable and effective civil society, in conjunction with high quality news and information, are critical to advance good governance, citizen well-being, and democratic principles."