We’ve Reached 36% of our $45k Fundraising Campaign Goal for Jan 14!

Page updated: December 14, 2023. 

Learning Life is working to raise $45,000 by January 14, 2024!  Note the deadline has moved from December 31 to January 14 to allow more time and to align with our Family Diplomacy Sweets & Stories event on January 14.

Below are the goals and current fundraising statuses, as of December 14, for each of our three programs, plus more information about each program to help you decide which program you would like to support.  This page will be updated periodically to keep you posted on our progress toward the fundraising goals totaling $45,000.

  1. DMV Democracy Learning Community (DLC): $6,645 or 33% raised toward the $20,000 goal.  
  2. Family Diplomacy Initiative (FDI): $7,243 or 36% raised toward the $20,000 goal. 
  3. Citizen Diplomacy Initiative (CDI): $2,350 or 45% raised toward the $5,000 fundraising goal. 
  4. TOTAL: $16,238 or 36% of the $45,000 fundraising goal. 

How you can help: Donate $100 to $1,000 here now for whichever of the above three programs you wish to support.  On the donation page, please type in the Note box which program you are supporting (DLC, FDI or CDI).  Supporters who wish to donate by check can make the check out to Learning Life and mail to Learning Life, 18713 Blue Violet Lane, Gaithersburg, MD 20879.  All donations, at whatever amount, are 100% tax deductible in the USA.  Individuals who give $250 or more, and organizations that give $1,000 or more become sponsors of the DLC, FDI, or CDI.       

What Is a Democracy Learning Community? 

A DLC is a local association of individuals and organizations devoted to making democracy more engaging by developing social events, products, services and spaces that entertain as well as nurture learning, networking, collaboration and wider, deeper citizen participation.

Why Build a Democracy Learning Community? 

You may have heard the phrase, “democracy is not a spectator sport.”  Yet despite that common conviction, the reality is that most people worldwide participate little if at all in their democracies, usually only by consuming news and/or mis- or disinformation, talking with friends or family, and periodically voting.  Further, among the relative few who participate, too many do not support some of the basic tenets of democracy, like free and fair elections, rule of law, and minority rights.  

There is no lack of ideas and proposals to widen and deepen participation, and more generally to strengthen democracy and civility, but democratic institutions and behavior do not tend to follow.  One reason is that democracy is often ponderous and acrimonious, which for some people makes it less attractive than decisive authoritarian leaders, and for many people, less attractive than the fast-moving, eye-catching, commercial products of entertainment and media industries.  

Learning Life believes that overcoming these challenges requires, among other things, bringing democracy closer to people through activities that connect, inform, entertain, and inspire collaborations — from speed networking, skills workshops and collaboration conferences, to dinners, markets and festivals.

What Is Learning Life Doing to Build a DLC in the DC Area? 

Learning Life is a Washington DC-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit building inclusive learning communities in order to widen and deepen participation in democracy and diplomacy. 

In June 2019, Learning Life launched the Democracy Learning Community in the DC area, or DMV, with our Democracy Dinners.  The Dinners have brought hundreds of DC area democracy professionals together in-person and online, and helped us build a network of over 6,000 people in the DMV that we invite to DLC events.  In 2022, we began research and writing to make the case for DLCs and to help people envision what more vibrant democracies can look like locally (here and here are examples of our published DLC articles thus far).  This year, we have begun planning and outreach for (a) a DC Democracy Festival that may occur as early as September or October 2024, and (b) Security Learning Community as an example of a DLC gathering diverse DC area youth and professionals to develop an informed, engaged and inclusive public on the fundamental issue of security.

What Is Family Diplomacy? 

Family diplomacy is grassroots, family-focused, international dialogue and collaboration across cultural and geographic divides.  The goal is to empower families to participate in policy-making so that governments, business, media and nonprofits better address families’ needs, concerns and aspirations.

A family diplomat is a caring volunteer who is (a) connected to and represents families in different nations affected by the same issues, from depression to climate change, and (b) trained effectively to advocate for those families via nonprofits, businesses, media and governments.

Why Family Diplomacy? 

Family is by far the most valued relationship in people’s lives across the world, according to the World Values Survey.  At the same time, families are affected by the wide range of problems societies face, from depression and unemployment to war and climate change.  Yet despite the family’s vulnerability and value worldwide, seldom are families invited to participate in decision-making alongside business, labor and government, or engaged to connect people across the world’s cultural, economic and political divides.  Family is thus a culturally powerful yet largely untapped force for a more caring world.     

What Is Learning Life Doing to Build Family Diplomacy? 

Learning Life is a Washington DC-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit building inclusive learning communities in order to widen and deepen participation in democracy and diplomacy. 

Learning Life’s Family Diplomacy Initiative (FDI) is an ambitious, long-term, grassroots effort to connect, train and empower a growing international corps of volunteer family diplomats (FDs) to participate in decision-making at local to global levels.  We envision a world more connected and caring because every family has one or more FDs networked with fellow FDs across the globe, and these citizen diplomats together advocate effectively for the needs, concerns and aspirations of families worldwide via nonprofits, businesses, media and governments. 

Established in 2016, FDI has since built a growing network of 17,000+ people across the world interested in family diplomacy, and engaged 500+ across the world in live international dialogues and storytelling focused on family issues.  In 2022, we began training FDs in citizen diplomacy, storytelling, and global family trends and issues, and have thus far seen an 11% rise in their knowledge and a 24% improvement in their storytelling skill.  In 2022-2025, we will develop our FD training curriculum, expand our international corps of volunteer FD trainees, and develop their knowledge, skills and connections to families.  In 2026 and beyond, we aim to begin institutionalizing FDs’ relations with nonprofits, businesses, media and governments so that they can start advocating on the issues most affecting the families they represent.       

What Is Citizen Diplomacy? 

Citizen diplomacy (CD) can be simply defined as citizen communication and cooperation across national borders, or “the right, even the responsibility, every person has to help shape international relations” (Mueller, 2020). 

Due to globalization, the internet, rising education levels, and long-term democratization, CD is growing, and becoming a more important part of diplomacy and international affairs.  

CD takes myriad forms, including business, sports, culinary, health, science, educational, arts, religious, and family diplomacy.  More about CD here.        

Why Does Citizen Diplomacy Matter? 

Life on Earth is rapidly changing.  Societies are becoming more complex and accordingly harder to comprehend.  Our lives and fates are more and more shaped by governments, businesses and their technologies near and far, often not of our making.  Self-serving elites seem to be getting richer and more politically influential.  Globalization is intertwining us economically and politically with varied strangers worldwide, yet in our everyday lives we connect more with people who are similar rather than different from us, making us less equipped for and more fearful of our diverse future.  

At the root of these fundamental conditions and a lot of problems that spring from them – from loneliness, depression and civic disengagement, to inequality, corruption, resentment of refugees and immigrants, war and climate change – lies disconnection, from (a) the policy-making that affects our lives, and (b) the diverse strangers with whom we are intertwined.    

At its best, CD gets at this root problem of disconnection by connecting diverse strangers across borders to learn, collaborate and influence local-to-global government, business, nonprofit and media policy-making on international issues that affect them.     

How Is Learning Life Advancing Citizen Diplomacy? 

Learning Life is a Washington DC-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit building inclusive learning communities in order to widen and deepen participation in democracy and diplomacy.  

Learning Life’s Citizen Diplomacy International (CDI) gathers scholars, students, professionals, and observers every three months via Zoom to share news and presentations on CD research and practice, local to global, with an eye to building a vibrant global CD sector for a more participatory, equitable and sustainable world.  Launched in 2020, CDI has successfully (a) organized 19 international meetings on research and practice in a variety of citizen diplomacy fields (peacebuilding, health, science, education, arts, religion, sports, etc.), and (b) gathered nearly 1,300 members from 110+ countries worldwide.    

Beyond CDI’s quarterly meetings, available on Youtube here, Learning Life also (a) publishes the free quarterly CDI Bulletin to share recent CD-related news, events and publications, (b) expands our free, public bibliography of CD publications, experts, and organizations, and (c) invites people worldwide interested in international affairs to join CDI free.  Anyone can join by emailing Learning Life at email@learninglife.info to get on the CDI quarterly meetings invitation list.     

In addition, we have begun research and outreach to identify exemplary citizen diplomats worldwide with the intent to (a) regularly profile some of them, (b) make a publicly available CD leaders list, and (c) develop annual Citizen Diplomacy Awards.  These steps should help raise awareness of, inspire participation in, and cultivate identification with the global CD sector.