PRRI Announces Launch of Religion and Renewing Democracy Initiative

PRRI Announces Launch of Religion and Renewing Democracy Initiative
New $1 Million Grant from the Henry Luce Foundation Supports Expansion of PRRI Public Fellows Program, Networks in Racial Justice and Migration

WASHINGTON, DC—Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) announced today the launch of a major new Religion and Renewing Democracy Initiative, which includes an expansion of the PRRI Public Fellows program for public scholarship as well as support for new networks of scholars and other knowledge producers working in the areas of racial justice and migration. The initiative was made possible by a generous three-year, $1 million grant from the Henry Luce Foundation’s Religion and Theology Program, approved by the foundation’s board last month. 

The Religion and Renewing Democracy Initiative consists of two programs designed to increase our understanding of the role of religion in public life at this critical juncture in American history. First, the Initiative will expand the PRRI Public Fellows program, created in 2017 with the support of the Luce Foundation to support the work of emerging publicly engaged scholars in the humanities and social sciences. The Initiative will also include a program to enhance the collaboration and impact of two additional cohorts of scholars and other producers of public knowledge via a Racial Justice Network and a Migration Scholars Network. 

“Americans and our shared institutions are grappling with fundamental questions about the values of pluralism and democracy, public trust and responsibility, and even the American story itself,” said Robert P. Jones, PRRI Founder and Chief Executive Officer. “PRRI’s Religion and Renewing Democracy Initiative seeks to empower scholars to broaden the public’s knowledge about the role religion plays in both hindering and fostering a healthier common imagination about who we are as a nation at this critical time in our history.”

The PRRI Public Fellows program will bring together a diverse set of 16 scholars each year working across the four major areas of PRRI’s research, including religious, racial, and ethnic pluralism; racial justice and white supremacy; immigration, and migration studies; and LGBTQ rights. The program will amplify the work of scholars who contribute to public discourse while also equipping them to bring their research findings to a broader audience. In addition to individual stipends to support their work, the PRRI Public Fellows will also have access to collaborative microgrants in each area of research to accelerate new scholarship and build professional relationships among the cohort.

The Racial Justice and Migration Scholars networks will serve as forums for sharing research, needs, and ideas in these two growing areas of socially engaged scholarship. PRRI will convene regular virtual meetings of each group, provide a microgrant in the second year to each network in support of collaborative work, and host face-to-face meetings of each group to foster intellectual community and cross-fertilization of work across disciplines.

“Far too much of our public discourse about religion is shrill, polarized, and acrimonious,” said Luce Foundation Program Director Jonathan VanAntwerpen. “PRRI’s work, rooted in a commitment to both independent research and accessible knowledge, has the potential to shift the terms and tone of public discussion. We are delighted to support this ambitious and timely expansion of the Public Fellows Program.” 

The Religion and Renewing Democracy Initiative builds on previous work generously supported by the Luce Foundation, including a recent year-long engagement supporting a cohort of Luce Foundation COVID-19 urgent-needs grantees.  

“As a bridging organization, PRRI has seen the value of creating stronger networks among those working in similar contexts,” Jones said.  “We look forward to strengthening the ties between scholars and other knowledge producers who are working at the intersection of religion and democracy, while also helping bring national, state, and local media attention to their work.”

For more information about PRRI’s research and programs, please visit our website at 

About the Henry Luce Foundation

The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to enrich public discourse by promoting innovative scholarship, cultivating new leaders, and fostering international understanding. Established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time, Inc., the Luce Foundation advances its mission through grantmaking and leadership programs in the fields of Asia, higher education, religion and theology, art, and public policy.

About PRRI

PRRI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to conducting independent research at the intersection of religion, culture, and politics.

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