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US, Canada; Latin America; Europe; Middle East / North Africa; Subsaharan Africa; India; Southeast Asia; Central Asia; Oceania; Global

Citizen Engagement Laboratory CEL’s mission is to increase the rate of societal and political change by accelerating tech-savvy, people-powered organizing initiatives, facilitating collaboration across these initiatives, and evolving the model of technology-fueled organizing.

Accelerator / Incubator



Citizen Engagement Laboratory (CEL) is a movement-building organization with a mission to empower tech-savvy organizations and individuals that are keeping the public informed about how key institutions like government, corporations, and the media are affecting their lives. CEL’s programs seek to increase societal and political change by accelerating tech-savvy, people-powered organizing initiatives, facilitating collaboration among these initiatives, and evolving the model of technology-fueled organizing. CEL serves as a laboratory and support system for using technology, media, and culture to organize grassroots constituencies, achieve concrete victories, and build effective organizations for social justice, human rights, and a stronger democracy.


Program Details

Our programs are designed to build powerful grassroots communities and deploy effective innovations in technology- and media-based organizing to help constituencies work together for a healthier and more sustainable U.S. for everyone.

Communities that face challenges to their economic stability, healthy living environment and other civil and human rights need access to information and opportunities they can use to assert those rights. Strategic use of online technology and new media can help ensure the greatest reach and impact for education and organizing projects for these communities. CELEF provides diverse communities with well-organized, effectively led organizations and projects providing public-interest education and collective action opportunities on issues of community concern.

We define our work by three intersecting areas, through which we shepherd a select set of existing organizations and new projects. We help build the wider movement through:

Organizational Development: It is challenging for grassroots movements to achieve their goals or long-term growth without organizational stability. We developed our Powerful Communities Program to address this challenge. CELEF supports leaders of constituency-based organizations to produce influential campaigns on key social issues, build their partnerships and teams, and secure increased funding for their work. Using a combination of coaching and direct services, we help them to help their communities achieve near-term impact and build longstanding power. The Powerful Communities Program is part incubation, part leadership development, and part technology and organizational capacity support.

Innovation: Social change entrepreneurs often lack the environment they need to innovate, or a platform from which they can launch their ideas. Today, new ideas and technologies can catch hold, shift culture, and inspire people to action faster than ever before. But these innovations don’t come out of nowhere. Social change agents need a space in which to dream up and create the future. Yet the nonprofit sector has little infrastructure or culture for investing in and cultivating experimentation and cutting-edge innovation. Our Innovation Program offers a structured, collaborative space where leaders can develop and test ideas that can be of use more widely as well as to their own organizations. The Program connects social entrepreneurs, activist tinkerers, and forward-looking funders with teams of experts and a laboratory, so they can meet and overcome challenges facing their movements.

Collaboration: The range of large-scale issues affecting communities across the country—such as unequal education, lack of economic opportunity, persistent racial injustice and gender inequity—are not going to be solved by any one group acting alone. They can only be won by activating citizens to align across constituencies and operate more effectively as a whole. We believe that larger-scale impact is only possible if we invest in ways to share knowledge and pool influence—and foster a culture that recognizes the importance of building these joint efforts into the institution’s culture. Many groups are facing or have faced similar issues but have not yet been purposefully networked to help each other. This requires an intentional process that draws people into collaboration and nurtures that spark with dedicated capacity. In the midst of running campaigns, building systems, recruiting staff, and responding to the nonstop news cycle, collaboration can be easier to preach than practice. Our Collaboration Program helps leaders overcome this obstacle by bringing together groups to share information, identify best practices, test innovations, and work together to win battles that could never be won alone.

For more Information


  • Arts, Culture, Handicrafts
  • Civic Participation
  • Clean and Green Technology
  • Communications / Media / ICT
  • Disaster Recovery
  • Environment, Climate Change
  • Mobile
  • Tech
  • Training, Technical Assistance Services

supporting ventures in these regions

  • Central Asia
  • Europe
  • Global
  • India
  • Latin America
  • Middle East / North Africa
  • Oceania
  • Southeast Asia
  • Subsaharan Africa
  • US, Canada


  • Non-Profit

accepting applications or entries


September 01, 2014 - September 26, 2014

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