Strengthening democracy through civic engagement and participation

Civil Society Grant Programme

Between 2023 and 2027 SSGT will implement a strategy to contribute to strengthening democracy through civic engagement and participation. Learning from the Northern Ireland grassroots peacebuilding programme (2017-2024) will support the programme design. The strategy will support collective action initiatives which deepen democracy across a number of levels and draw out the learning.

As part of this work, SSGT launched  a new funding programme in 2023 to contribute to a ‘high energy democracy’ by supporting civil society groups to:

  • Engage in participative and deliberative democracy initiatives that harness the power of civil society to transform democratic decision-making processes
  • Develop progressive platforms for collective power and influence which use values-based approaches to identify elements of transformative change
  • Create spaces for participation and voice, particularly among those who are most marginalised

Applicant groups were asked to design approaches which: focus on learning; ensure the voice of those most affected are included in the design and delivery of the outcomes; seek to build relationships that last beyond the funded work, including the strengthening of relationships at both a horizontal and vertical level and have a clear idea about what they want to achieve.

The programme and its ambition emerged from a detailed Context Paper, and provided funding to eight distinct projects, summaries of which projects can be found here. SSGT is working in partnership with the Social Change Initiative to learn from the programme and to provide funded groups with a range of learning and networking opportunities.


Supporting Intercommunity Practice and Activism (2017-2024)

Between 2017 and 2019, SSGT had a pilot programme to support inter-community practice and activism (SIPA) in the north of Ireland. We believe that the strengthening of collaborative and supportive relationships within and between communities is essential for peacebuilding. The Learning Report from the two-year pilot programme (2017-2019) can be downloaded here.

In 2019 there was a call for applications for a three-year programme for groups working collaboratively on an inclusive and inter-community basis to address common issues and identifying barriers to inclusive work, and relationship-building, within and between communities and learning how these can be overcome. A one year extension was made to the programme, which was also delayed by COVID 19. The Programme will now end in 2024.

Grants were made to twelve groups to work together on grassroots peacebuilding issues. Project summaries are here. The final reports from the programme are available under Programme Reports.


This programme is funded by a family foundation advised by Porticus.

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