The Connect U.S. Fund

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The Connect U.S. Fund
Formation 2004
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
President Nancy Soderberg
Former President Eric Schwartz

The Connect U.S. Fund is a Washington based non-profit organization that promotes responsible U.S. global engagement on nuclear non-proliferation, human rights, climate change and development. The organization supports grantees and other non-governmental organizations in their efforts to collaborate effectively within and between issue areas, to engage policy makers, and to bring issues to the attention of the media. Currently a former Ambassador to the United Nations Nancy E. Soderberg serves as President of The Connect U.S. Fund.[1]


The Connect U.S. initiative was founded in 2004 by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Open Society Institute and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund to unite and support a growing number of U.S.-based organizations that work on international affairs. Since then a number of foundations and organizations joined the initiative, including the Ford Foundation and the Ploughshares Fund. The Connect U.S. Fund operates as a project of the Tides Center.[2]

In November 2006, Eric P. Schwartz joined the Connect U.S. Fund as its first executive director.[3] He developed a program of grant-making and operations designed to promote a vision of responsible U.S. global engagement during the Presidential election period, and the Presidential transition. In early 2009, Eric Schwartz entered the Obama Administration as Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, and Ambassador Nancy Soderberg joined the Connect U.S. Fund as its new President.


Through a program of grant-making and operations designed to foster stronger collaboration among non-governmental organizations active on foreign policy issues, the Connect U.S. Fund seeks to advance a vision for responsible U.S. global engagement in an increasingly interdependent world. The Fund supports a community of foundations and non-governmental organizations working together to enhance the effectiveness of their collective advocacy efforts.[4]


For 2010-2011, the Connect U.S. Fund is focusing its efforts on five key issues and the inter-relation between them, as progress in one area may help progress in others.

Nuclear Nonproliferation: Strengthen U.S. efforts to prevent the spread and use of deadly nuclear weapons, including deeper cuts in nuclear weapons arsenals between the U.S. and Russia; locking down and reducing the number of fissile materials; and reducing the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. policy.

Human Rights: Encourage strong American leadership in multilateral human rights instruments and institutions, including support for the work of the International Criminal Court; strengthening UN human rights mechanisms; securing ratification of at least one “core” human rights treaty; and a U.S. government structure to prevent genocide and respond to mass atrocities.

Climate Change: Urge U.S. leadership in addressing the climate crisis through making smart investments at home and in the developing world and by promoting innovative solutions for reducing emissions. This includes eliminating all fossil fuel subsidies and galvanizing investment in adaptation, clean technology, and forest protection in the developing world.

International Financial and Trade Reform: Support for international financial and trade reform as a means for global poverty alleviation. This includes U.S. support for international financial transparency; international financial institution reform; reform of trade preferences; and export-led growth in the developing world through appropriate trade finance.

Stronger U.S. Civilian Capacities: Ensuring U.S. civilian agencies have the funds, capacity, and knowledge needed to conduct development, stability operations, and diplomacy effectively, thus striking a better balance between the civilian and military responsibilities in these areas.


The Connect U.S. Fund undertakes a wide range of operational and grant-making activities in support of their strategic objectives. They organize meetings to address policy or strategic disagreements in the community. They serve as a liaison between high-level policy-makers and our community members. They provide training and workshops for community members on identified needs like fundraising, messaging, program evaluation, and public speaking. Their website and newsletter serve as forums for capacity-building and sharing of information; they use these communication tools, as well as op-eds and media appearances, to highlight neglected issues. They host gatherings of their grantees and community members to facilitate networking and to introduce unlikely partners with overlapping interests. Their think tank working groups are forums for think tank experts to come together with organizations active on Capitol Hill and in the grassroots. We hold briefings and discussions on specific policy challenges that include diverse participants such as funders, advocacy groups, think tanks, Hill staff, and Administration officials.

The Connect U.S. Fund's annual grant-making program is designed to create collaborative efforts that promote responsible and cooperative U.S. global leadership in and across issue areas by supporting strong, multi-organizational advocacy efforts. Unexpected, time-bound efforts to achieve discrete policy wins are funded through their Rapid Response grant program. A small pool of Strategic Opportunity grants sponsors projects that do not fit into their other grant programs, but present clear opportunities to benefit Connect U.S. Fund grantees and other non-governmental organizations active on their issues. Finally, they provide Partnership Grants to U.S. in the World and the Aspen Institute's Continuous Progress Strategic Services. These two organizations work to provide valuable services to their community and grantees through training in issue messaging and program design and evaluation.

As they build ties between NGOs from different types of organizations and issue silos, they become more willing to seek collaboration and avoid working at cross-purposes. As conflicts arise, the Fund provides a neutral convening forum for addressing sticking points and, when possible, for developing clear, common messaging strategies. The Connect U.S. Fund increases the visibility of neglected but critical issues in the media and the policy community, and increases community member access to foreign policy decision-makers.

Overall, the Connect U.S. Fund's work provides a stronger voice to the foundations and NGOs seeking to promote stronger U.S. engagement in meeting common challenges.


  1. ^ The Hill Blog Biographical Information: Ambassador Nancy E. Soderberg. 2010.
  2. ^ Connect U.S. Fund. History Connect U.S. Fund. 2010.
  3. ^ U.S. State Department. Biographical Information Eric P. Schwartz 2009.
  4. ^ Connect U.S. Fund. Issues Connect U.S. Fund. 2010.

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