Free Event

Price Center for Social Innovation (CSI) Social Innovators Seminar



Stephen McConnell, President at Civic Participation Action Fund



Traditional philanthropy is able to support substantial progress toward social change, but it is largely ineffective in pushing public policy issues across the finish line because of legal prohibitions on lobbying and electoral activities. In today’s highly politicized and partisan world, lobbying and electing supportive candidates is essential for addressing controversial issues such as criminal justice reform, health care affordability, or economic inequality. The Civic Participation Action Fund (aka CPAF) represents a branch of philanthropy that is able to support these critical activities and is increasingly being recognized as necessary for effective social justice advocacy. Drawing on CPAF’s grantmaking in several states, this presentation will illustrate how political philanthropy works and why it is so critical to creating significant social change.



Stephen McConnell, Ph.D., is the President of the Civic Participation Action Fund. The Civic Participation Action Fund (CPAF) is a non-partisan 501(c)4 grantmaking organization devoted to creating a more progressive policy and political environment by expanding civic engagement among low income communities and communities of color in selected states throughout the United States. Prior to launching CPAF, Mr. McConnell was U.S. Country Director for the Atlantic Philanthropies. Prior to joining The Atlantic Philanthropies in 2008, Mr. McConnell was Vice President for Advocacy and Public Policy at the Alzheimer’s Association. Mr. McConnell also spent seven years on Capitol Hill, as Chief of Staff for the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging and as a professional staff member for the U.S. House of Representatives, Select Committee on Aging.  Earlier, he held a research associate appointment at the Andrus Gerontology Center of the University of Southern California. Mr. McConnell earned both his Ph.D. in Sociology and a B.A. from the University of Southern California. He currently resides in Washington, DC.


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Sponsored by:

Sol Price Center for Social Innovation


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