Deadline for applications is March 15, 2016.

Change the Story:

Our nation’s founders envisioned a republic in which the people would be the ultimate source of power. Today, however, a pervasive cultural narrative – across the right and the left – tells Americans it is pointless to participate in civic life because the game is rigged and their voices just don’t matter. At the Pluribus Project, we believe that it’s time to counter this dominant negative narrative and to displace it with a storyline of citizen empowerment so that Americans can begin to see that change is possible and how to become a part of it.

The reality is that many Americans in communities across the country are finding ways to come together and create real change. They may be a minority but they are not uncommon and they are still noticeably absent from the mainstream conversation. That’s why we created the Narrative Collaboratory, a platform for generating and propagating new narratives of citizen voice and efficacy, coupled with the tools of power and action that others can use. Think of it as a venture platform to seed experiments in media, storytelling, organizing, and experience design.

We are now announcing an Open Call for experiment and project ideas. We intend to select and support multiple proposals that creatively and effectively spread narratives of citizen power. Selected projects will be eligible for financial support, ranging from $5,000 to $50,000, from the Pluribus Project, and will be featured to additional donors and potential supporters through various media and events including the Aspen Ideas Festival[1].

Ultimately, we believe that with a sense of collective purpose, some trial and error, and the ingenuity of the many (that’s you), there is real opportunity right now to reinvent our civic reality, and to help create a more representative and responsive democracy.


Promise: All projects should show great promise to counter the pervasive, disheartening narrative that discourages citizens from engaging in their democracy. We are looking for platforms for experimentation that can generate or propagate new, durable, and contagious narratives of citizen power and efficacy.

A Diversified Portfolio: We are looking for projects that are diverse in type. Some may be media ventures, involving traditional journalism, digital media, or social media. Some might be organizing initiatives. Others might political ideation ventures. Some may even be hybrids. All projects must be non-partisan, and we prefer projects that are trans-partisan.

Scalable with a proof of concept: We are structure-agnostic – meaning that we will consider both for-profits and nonprofits. We generally prefer ventures with demonstrated proof of concept and a clear plan for reach and sustained impact. All funded ventures will be required to enter into a formal written agreement with the Pluribus Project, committing to use grant funds for specific purposes—including the charitable and educational ends—outlined in their proposal.


Applications are due March 15, 2016. We will choose a set of projects to fund by April 15 and these projects will be implemented through the calendar year.

Applications will be reviewed and evaluated by a team of experts in civic engagement, innovation, and investment. The final portfolio will be financed at the discretion of the Pluribus Project Narrative Collaboratory team, who will receive advice and input of the experts engaged throughout the process.


Please answer the following questions. Email your answers to You may also include relevant attachments. The deadline for applications is March 15, 2016.

(1) Describe the narrative project or experiment. What exactly are you are doing, or do you plan to do, in order to generate or propagate new, durable, and contagious narratives of citizen power and efficacy? (500 words max.)

(2) How will you use the money and why will your project benefit from this investment? (250 words max.)

(3) What results have you achieved to date (if applicable), and what results do you anticipate for the next year? (250 words max.)

(4) Please provide brief bios for each core team member.


Is a budget required?

A budget is not required, but it is helpful. Please let us know the amount between $5,000 and $50,000 that you think is best suited for your proposal.

Do you allow indirect costs?

So long as your proposal suits our primary purpose of spreading narratives of citizen power, funding can cover indirect costs such as salaries and overhead expenses, although overhead rates above 10% are unlikely to get funded. The higher the percentage of “direct impact” expenses (either related to your project itself or its evaluation), the stronger the proposal will be.

Do you fund general operations?

No, we do not fund general operations.

Can I submit more than one application?

Yes, submitting more than one application is allowed and will not have a detrimental effect on your application process.  

Is the proposal due at a specific time?

No, we will accept proposals at any time on March 15, 2016.

[1] To clarify, the Pluribus Project has two divisions, the Representation Collaboratory and the Narrative Collaboratory. This Open Call is for the Narrative Collaboratory, which is focused on cultivating a narrative of empowerment and inspiring enhanced public participation in civic and political life. The Representation Collaboratory is focused on improving the way campaigns are run, and has issued a separate Open Call.

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