Supporting Vibrant Civil Society and Independent Media

USAID promotes civil society, labor rights, youth and independent media strengthening in order to advance development.

USAID provides technical leadership and assistance on civil society and media issues. USAID promotes innovations in the civil society, labor, youth and media arenas (including the use of new technologies) as a means for addressing development challenges.


Strengthen Citizens’ Ability to Freely Organize and Communicate: Support legal and regulatory frameworks that provide an enabling environment for civil society organizations (CSOs), democratic labor organizations, and independent media.

Strengthen a Democratic Political Culture: Resilient democracies depend on a political culture that values citizen engagement, tolerance, and respect for human rights. USAID plays a lead role in advancing knowledge about fortifying democratic political cultures. This includes supporting civic education programs and promoting democratic principles in worker education programs.

Mobilize Constituencies for Reform: USAID emphasizes support for CSOs whose advocacy efforts give voice to citizens, thus increasing their influence on the political process. This includes a range of organizations from human rights and pro-democracy groups to informal groups.


Civic Space

As civil society globally has experienced increased restrictions in civic and political space, USAID has collected analysis from our posts around the world and developed a three-pronged strategy of Prevention -- Adaptation – Continued Support.


USAID supports the design and development of programs on worker empowerment, labor rights, and access to justice for workers worldwide, including through the Global Labor Program


USAID supports programs in more than 30 countries to strengthen journalistic professionalism, establish media management skills, and promote free and independent media.

Youth Civic Education, Engagement, and Leadership

USAID’s civil society- and media-focused youth activities aim to help the next generation of civil society leaders, students and activists build more inclusive, stable, prosperous and democratic societies. CSM provides technical support to missions working with youth and participates in cross-agency coordination and research efforts to map gaps in evidence and opportunities to improve outcomes for youth.


Civil Society and Media Strengthened Together and Advancing in New Directions (CSM-STAND): CSM-STAND includes two parallel five-year Leader with Associates (LWA) Cooperative Agreements, delineated geographically, that support local, regional, and cross-regional programming that build civil society and independent media capacity and leadership to constructively engage in civic space, and provide the DRG sector with cutting-edge technical resources and adaptable program options.

Powered by the People (PxP) is a grant to a geographically diverse global consortium of organizations that provides direct and regionally accessible support to address the needs, opportunities, and challenges identified by activists and other civic actors engaged in nonviolent collective action and people-powered movements. Through this support, PxP will strengthen the agency, resiliency, and efficacy of activists and people-powered social movements that advance human rights, social justice, democracy, and inclusive development.

Civil Society Innovation Initiative Program (CSII): A network of regional civil society innovation hubs that work to connect CSOs across countries, encourage physical and digital peer-to-peer learning, provide CSOs and CSO networks with a virtual and physical platform to access tools and technologies to address their most pressing issues, and amplify civil society voices around the world. It is an initiative that is supported by USAID and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

The Enabling and Protecting Civil Society Project (EPCS) Illuminating New Solutions and Programmatic Innovations for Resilient Spaces (INSPIRES) Activity: The EPCS/INSPIRES activity is working to increase knowledge and capacity to respond to growing restrictions on democratic freedoms of association, assembly, and expression through new analytical tools to forecast troubled civic spaces, testing programmatic interventions to boost civil society resilience, and empowering local partners through flexible response support.

Greater Internet Freedom (GIF):The Greater Internet Freedom (GIF) Program, a three-year activity (2020-2023), seeks to increase the capacity of civil society and independent media, in countries where USAID works, on internet freedom issues relevant to country contexts. The Activity’s two primary objectives are: improving the digital security practices of civil society, human rights defenders, and media; and increasing the long-term and wide-ranging engagement of civil society on issues of internet governance.

International Fund for Public Interest Media (IFPIM): IFPIM is an independent, multilateral initiative supported by USAID for the period of 2021 and 2024. The goal of IFPIM is to provide core operational support to vital public interest media, as well as support the development of new business models that enable these media to survive as traditional business models. It aims to nurture and safeguard a sector that in many countries faces a potentially deadly combination of local hostility and economic disruption. IFPIM will increase diversity of voices and representation of public interest media, with the ultimate objective of contributing to greater trust in media institutions, broader political participation, and a reduction in the polarization that affects many societies.

The Media Viability Accelerator (MVA) is a web-based platform that will help news media become more financially sustainable by accessing solutions and market insights to inform effective business strategies. Participating media outlets will, free of charge, learn from a community of peers, access a multi-lingual tool that visualizes media performance data, and receive actionable daily alerts based on thousands of market and media sources. Media outlets using the MVA will become better informed about themselves, better equipped to adapt to market changes, and better known to organizations which can assist with their work. Announced at the Summit for Democracy in March 2023, MVA is a public-private partnership between USAID, Microsoft, and a coalition of media support organizations led by Internews. The platform will go into Beta testing in the summer of 2023 and media outlets, businesses, governments and nonprofits interested in participating can sign up.

Global Labor Program - New Frontiers in Advancing Labor Rights (GLP-NFALR): New Frontiers in Advancing Labor Rights (GLP-NFALR) is a five-year project (2022-2027) implemented globally by the Solidarity Center. GLP-NFALR advances labor rights and builds the capacity of worker organizations, and will deepen USAID’s engagement with local labor actors to address both traditional and emerging issues in the labor sector globally, such as migration, informal work, forced labor, climate change, inclusion, and closing civic space. Activities include research, organizing, communications support, legal defense and support, strategic planning, inclusive leadership development, strategic networking, stakeholder engagement, and advocacy.

Global Labor Program - Platform for Organizing by Workers for Empowerment and Recognition (GLP-POWER): GLP-POWER is a five-year project (2021-2026) implemented across six countries in South and Southeast Asia (Bangladesh, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Malaysia). The project aims to empower marginalized, informal and/or precarious workers to increase their bargaining power, strengthen regional and cross-sectoral solidarity, secure fair and decent work, and overcome an increasingly restricted democratic space across the region. GLP-POWER will develop a regional platform for informal workers’ organizations and collectives in Asia to foster interaction and exchange among informal workers in sectors such as gig/platform economy, garment manufacturing, agriculture, fishing, construction, domestic work, and mining. Using the digital platform ‘CONNECT’ in concert with in-person small group meetings and participatory research, informal workers equip themselves with credible information, learn about and test innovative practices of organizing, share their problems, and build their capacities to effectively bargain for decent working conditions.

Global Labor Program – Inclusive Futures (GLP-IF): GLP-IF aims to increase the inclusion and confidence of people with disabilities, particularly women, so they are able to collectively bargain and improve labor rights at the Kenyan companies of global drinks brands – Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA) and Diageo’s East Africa Breweries Limited (EABL). Working with EABL, the program introduces smallholder farmers who grow sorghum (a crop used to brew beer) to organize collectively into hubs. Through the hubs, farmers with and without disabilities gain improved access to agricultural advice, farm inputs, and collective bargaining power to secure higher prices from EABL for their produce. GLP-IF works with CCBA to make their retail distribution chain more inclusive. It provides skills training and support to women retailers with disabilities to grow their businesses and supports them to organize into groups – giving them a platform to discuss common issues and negotiate better margins from CCBA product sales. Over five years, the program aims to benefit 1,350 women retailers and 1,450 farmers with disabilities.


Sector Overview