Institute for Cultural Evolution receives a grant from Washington DC-based Democracy Fund

By Steve McIntosh

Grant recognizes innovative approach to decreasing hyperpartisanship.


Boulder, Colorado—Overcoming America’s hyper-partisan political paralysis is a big challenge, and may be the most troublesome problem facing America today. In response to this challenge, The Institute for Cultural Evolution (“ICE”), an independent think tank founded in 2013, is advancing a bold vision of a “Future Left” and “Future Right”—emerging cohorts within both progressive and conservative camps who are developing a vision of their political destiny that is less hyper-partisan. ICE is pleased to announce that it has received a grant in support of these efforts from the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation established by eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar to help ensure that the American people come first in our democracy.

America’s legislative gridlock has been called a “wicked problem” because it has many causes and no obvious solution. While some point the finger at government, the work of ICE stresses the foundational role of the electorate. According to ICE co-founder and president Steve McIntosh, “Political polarization is ultimately not a political issue—it’s a cultural one. It’s not just happening in the halls of Congress; it’s happening in the hearts and minds of the American people—in their beliefs and values. We can’t solve this problem solely through political or institutional reform. We need to help both conservatives and progressives better integrate the wisdom of their opponents while retaining their core values.”

Betsy Wright Hawkings, Democracy Fund’s Program Director for Governance, attended ICE’s first “Future of the Right Conclave” in June, said, “These convenings address political hyper-partisanship with the goal of creating conversations and solutions that expand the field to address and respond to opportunities for new partnerships and collaborations.”

Although ICE has received financial support from its board of directors, including Whole Foods Markets co-founder John Mackey, the Democracy Fund grant is the think tank’s first contribution from a prominent institutional philanthropy. ICE Senior Fellow Rich Tafel, “The Institute for Cultural Evolution has shown it has a unique ability to bring together leading thinkers seeking to resolve the hyper-partisan challenge of our time. With these funds from Democracy Fund, we have the ability to broaden our reach and lay the groundwork for lasting solutions.”

Beginning in early 2016, ICE will be officially launching its “Project for the Future of the Right,” which will be led by Tafel and McIntosh. Then later in the year they plan to follow this with their inaugural “Conclave on the Future of the Left.”

To read ICE’s acclaimed paper, “Depolarizing the American Mind,” to take its two-minute “polarization test,” or to learn more about opportunities to get involved, log on to:

The Democracy Fund invests in organizations working to ensure that the American political system is responsive to the priorities of the American public. For more information about the Democracy Fund, please visit

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