Re-imagining democratic systems

Through ‘Changemakers for Democracy’ we connect, support and amplify the work of people who represent ideas, innovations, movements and collectives in Europe which build imaginative and transformative futures for our current democratic and economic systems.

What do we do

This 12-month Fellowship will support up to 15 Europe-based practitioners and representatives of innovations, movements and collectives working on democratic renewal and new economic paradigms.
This 12-month Fellowship will support up to 15 Europe-based practitioners and representatives of innovations, movements and collectives working on democratic renewal and new economic paradigms.
Europe is currently experiencing unprecedented polarisation and extremism. We need imaginative ideas to transform and improve our democratic and economic systems. Our Fellowship aims to amplify efforts which work on:

12 EmpathyXchange Summit 2021 (c) Hieronymus Caspar Rönneper
Democratic Renewal
Our core democratic institutions are in crisis. Often citizens believe their elected leaders and institutions are distant, unaccountable and unrepresentative. Political systems often contribute to, rather than solve, complex problems such as polarisation, climate change and inequality. Democratic Renewal is about re-imagining democratic systems, including the narratives, processes and models that underpin them. This programme seeks to support people who share the belief that shifting power relations in decision making, governance and new forms of democracy need to be at the core of tackling existing and emerging challenges.
OST7 Climate Action MENA 2022_Chico Shaaban
A New Economic Paradigm
Democracy and our economic systems and paradigms are intrinsically intertwined, and existing democratic systems remain largely wedded to a neoliberal economic system that is actively harming people and the planet. Innovative democratic systems and actors can play a critical role in supporting the emergence of a new, more just and equitable socio-economic paradigm and the new ideas, approaches and policies which emerge from it could play a key role in renewing and sustaining democracy in Europe.
Amplifying Alternatives
Regardless of political affiliation, there is a general consensus that our current political and economic systems are broken, but the contours of a new paradigm have not yet become clear. Compelling ideas and groundbreaking experiments in democracy and economy exist but often suffer from a lack of traction, support, or public exposure. People need tangible examples of viable alternatives to the current models we inherit, to inspire them to defend democracy and explore new models of citizen engagement to regain their political agency.

What we mean by democratic and economic renewal

Democratic renewal is about transformative ideas which substantially change how our current democracies and economic systems work in order to make them better at addressing people’s needs.
Democratic renewal is about transformative ideas which substantially change how our current democracies and economic systems work in order to make them better at addressing people’s needs.
OST2 Climate Action MENA 2022_Chico Shaaban
Let’s re-imagine democratic and economic systems in Europe, together!

What you can expect as a Fellow

Fellows receive support to build their capacity. This can explicitly include paying for services from their existing networks (for which the programme provides a total of 2,500 EURO per Fellow), as well as offers the Fellows deem relevant from ChangemakerXchange’s support network. We also provide support in the areas of online communications and advocacy so that the Fellows can amplify/replicate their work & impact.
We will host an in-person summit (June 3. – 7. 2024, in Berlin), convening the cohort for 5 days in nature, designed to forge deep, trusting connections, and enable peer learning and future collaborations. We will also bring the group together midway through the programme (September 2024, in Berlin) and connect the Fellows with ecosystem stakeholders.
We provide financial support of 50,000 EURO for each initiative, in form of a grant to the Fellow’s charitable non-profit organisation. Individuals without an organisation are encouraged to still apply, as we will be doing our best to find alternatives (Please indicate this in the application form, more info in the FAQs).
Co-Creation and Co-Learning
We also provide small seed grants to support cross-border co-creation / co-learning initiatives which can help mobilise democratic renewal across the region, using an approach of ‘participatory and collaborative budgeting’.
Fellows get the opportunity to connect with and learn from others working across different dimensions of democratic and economic renewal, helping to seed inspiration and build solidarity between movements in Europe. They will also get a chance to join the global CXC network, which includes life-long access to resources and regular opportunities to connect, learn & co-create with social innovators, activists and movement builders across the world.

The timeline/s

We want to be mindful of your time and help you plan, hence transparently share all the major milestones across the selection process, as well as the Fellowship programme.
We want to be mindful of your time and help you plan, hence transparently share all the major milestones across the selection process, as well as the Fellowship programme.

The Advisory Committee of the Changemakers for Democracy Programme

Nani_Jansen_by_Tetsuro_Miyazaki_A69A2558_Advisory Committee CM4D
Nani is an internationally recognised human rights lawyer specialised in strategic litigation at the intersection of human rights, social justice, and technology.
Nani Jansen Reventlow (she/her), Systemic Justice
Indy Johar_Advisory Committee CM4D
Indy is co-founder of Dark Matter Labs and of the RIBA award winning architecture and urban practice Architecture00.
Indy Johar, Dark Matter Labs
Martha Mackenzie__Advisory Committee CM4D
Martha is Executive Director of the Civic Power Fund, the UK’s first Fund dedicated to community organising.
Martha Mackenzie, Civic Power Fund
Alberto Alemanno is the Jean Monnet Professor of European Union Law & Policy at HEC Paris and at the College of Europe, Bruges. He also is the founder of The Good Lobby.
Alberto Alemanno (he/him), Good Lobby
Romy Kraemer_Advisory Committee CM4D
Romy is the Managing Director of the Guerrilla Foundation, a member of Leap Collective, and on the advisory board of Arising Quo.
Romy Krämer (she/her), Guerilla Foundation
Laura Batalla__Advisory Committee CM4D
Laura leads Ashoka’s Changemaker Europe initiative, dedicated to cultivating a transformative perspective on democracy and civic participation.
Laura Batalla Adam (she/her) – Ashoka
Claudia Chwalisz_Advisory Committee CM4D
Claudia is the Founder and CEO of DemocracyNext, an international non-profit, non-partisan research and action institute that champions Citizens’ Assemblies as a way of citizen-led decision-making.
Claudia Chwalisz (she/her) – DemocracyNext
Alba Gutierrez
Alba is a Program Manager at The European Program of the Open Society Foundations with a focus on efforts regarding Democratic Renewal.
Alba Gutierrez (she/her)

Our Community

At the heart of ChangemakerXchange is a vibrant close-knit community of 1200 people from 130 countries working on a vast range of issues, as well as hundreds of partners on all continents of the world. See below selected examples of our members and their initiatives.
The International Student Environment Coalition provides young people with the resources to start and engage in grassroot movements for climate and environmental justice.
Harrison Ashangwa, International Student Environment Coalition
Joy Napier
Dutty Up Yuh Fingah is a non-partisan, politically neutral youth group with the aims to improve youth voter education, increase youth voter turnout, promote fair & free elections, and provide a platform for youth to discourse on democracy
Joy Napier, Duty Up Yuh Fingah
Rebekka Dober 3
YEP encourages, empowers, and enables young people to lead social change by creating innovative opportunities for inclusive youth participation.
Rebekka Dober, YEP (Youth Empowerment & Participation
Christian Vanizette
Chilli is a digital app that leverages the power of community, habits, and daily actions to drive tangible change and tackle pressing local and global challenges.
Christian Vanizette, MakeSense and Chilli
#FreeInterrail (now #DiscoverEU) is a campaign to convince the European Commission to give out free Interrail tickets to all Youth in the EU in order to create intercultural understanding and empathy across youth in Europe.
Vincent-Immanuel Herr, Activist & Initiator of #FreeInterrail
Lavinya Stennett 1
The Black Curriculum trains teachers across the United Kingdom and Europe on their approach towards teaching Black history.
Lavinya Stennett, The Black Curriculum


Who is the Changemakers for Democracy programme for?

Through Changemakers for Democracy we aim to source, support and connect people with transformative innovations and ideas across Europe that re-imagine democratic and economic narratives, processes and models. There’ll be a focus on ideas and initiatives:

– that shift power to people in affected communities, 

– give agency to those marginalised by the current system 

– and engage and empower people (in the most diverse sense possible) in better forms of meaningful decision-making about the issues that affect their everyday lives.

We are particularly keen to support Fellows in ensuring their ideas and work moves beyond theory into practice, and supporting them in advancing their work towards a larger ‘us’ beyond political or other silos. Through the links of ChangemakerXchange and that of Open Society Foundations to the wider democratic renewal community we also aim to share, amplify and give further traction to the ideas of the Fellows.

Who are the partners for the Changemakers for Democracy programme?

Changemakers for Democracy is the newest initiative of ChangemakerXchange, an international non-profit, non-partisan, non-religious, non-segregated and non-sectarian organisation with a mission to provide inclusive, supportive and collaborative spaces for changemakers, social innovators and activists from across the world.

The initiative is supported by a grant from the Open Society Foundations.

To learn more about ChangemakerXchange’s partnerships including how to join this and other efforts, please visit, or reach out to us via .

What is ChangemakerXchange’s own political stance

As the people representing ChangemakerXchange we are very aware that nothing exists in a political vacuum. Both the individual and the collective are shaped by our environments, and our access to opportunities, services, and resources are all dictated by economic and political realities, frameworks and policies. In the same vein, we recognize that no organisation is without political leanings, and, to a certain extent, shaped by the individuals working within it. If the personal is political, then by extension, the professional must also be.

ChangemakerXchange is committed to transparency and accountability, and as part of that commitment we feel a responsibility to make our political standing explicit for those who are interested. Please note that our thinking and standpoints in regard to our ‘political identity’, including our mission, as well as our approach to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice continues to evolve and deepen and we invite you to follow us on our journey.

You can learn more about our political stance here

What are the key criteria for joining the programme


Applicants working in Europe, and/or resident in one of our eligible countries: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia,  Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy,  Kosovo, Latvia,  Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and United Kingdom.

and with ideas / initiatives that create impact in one or several of the countries mentioned above.


We are looking for people who represent ideas, innovations, movements and collectives, which fit the theme of the Fellowship (democratic and economic renewal) and who are deeply rooted in the communities they work for. Whilst we’re open to applications from the founders or leaders of initiatives, we acknowledge that democracy is a collective endeavour, hence we’re explicitly open to people who have been nominated or ‘put forward’ by their collective or team in order to represent them and their ideas.


We invite people of all ages to apply for the programme.


Whilst the selection of ideas will be based on the validity of great ideas rather than high proficiency of English, the Fellowship will be hosted in English, meaning a good level of understanding and ability to express oneself in English is required to participate in the programme. We openly acknowledge that being unable to facilitate multi-language participation is an unfortunate shortcoming and hope for everyone’s understanding.


The application form must be fully completed.

Do I need to be the original founder or co-founder?

As mentioned above, we are looking for people who represent ideas, innovations, movements and collectives. We’re both open to applications from founders or leaders of initiatives, as well as to people who have been nominated or ‘put forward’ by their collective or team in order to represent them and their ideas.

Can two (or more people) from the same initiative or with the same idea apply?

Given the limited number of spots for this Fellowship we have a preference for individuals representing various efforts, in order to support as many different ideas as possible. If however there are two or more founders with distinctly different and complementary roles in the same initiative, we are open to accepting proposals from several people pursuing the same idea or venture – in this case please specify in your application that this is a ‘joint application’.

Does my idea / project have to fulfil certain general criteria?

  • Clear Assessment of the Need and Opportunity: The idea or initiative needs to be rooted in a clear understanding of what the specific need, challenge or opportunity is that the idea is trying to address or solve.
  • Ideas / Initiatives: Ideally the ideas or initiatives candidates apply with to the programme need to be well thought through, tested, and have some initial traction already. We are also open to very early-stage initiatives or initiatives in the idea-stage, this will however require a clear analysis of the potential of the idea and ideally references from other existing projects, academic research, or a track record in the field of democratic renewal.
  • Impact: The initiative should either have some proven impact already or show clear potential for future impact. An assessment of the idea’s impact can include the relevance of the problem the idea is trying to solve or the number of people who would potentially benefit from it.
  • Scale: The idea or initiative should be ambitious and have the potential to scale or to be replicated or have impact at systemic level. Please note that we imagine scale in the broadest sense. Whilst the idea or initiative should be ambitious, and could have the potential to be replicated or grow, we are mostly interested in the impact on a system – for example, your work may be only relevant to a specific community, but could be really significant in terms of inspiration, and thus ‘scale’ is reached this way.
  • Innovation: The initiative should show ideally some elements of innovation for the specific context (meaning the ideas should be ‘new’ or applying new ways of thinking or new elements to existing approaches).
  • Democratic Renewal Fit: The initiative should fit to the programme definition and scope of democratic renewal & new economy.

What personal criteria are important to ChangemakerXchange?

  • Background: The applicant should have an existing track record in creating positive change within the democratic renewal space and/or be able to show clear proof of passion for democratic renewal, involvement in the wider ecosystem and past contributions to the topic.
  • Personal Connection: Ideally the applicant is in some way directly personally connected to the idea and its context. This could be by living in the community where an idea is being implemented or having been directly or indirectly affected by the societal challenge they’re now trying to solve.
  • Leading role: Participants should play a leading role in the implementation of the idea or initiative.
  • Values: The applicant should demonstrate an alignment with the CXC values.
  • Character: The applicant should show an innovative and creative mindset.
  • Motivation: The applicant should show motivation to engage with the Fellowship programme.

Diversity & Inclusion

  • We aim for a richly diverse cohort in all meanings of the word: including but not limited to gender, demographic, class, ethnicity. (ChangemakerXchange has a dedicated DEI Team with a strong mandate and tools to ensure a high level of diversity and inclusion of candidates and participants in our programs).
  • We also aim for a truly diverse range of approaches and lens on democratic renewal & new economy innovations. We believe this leads to richer co-learning in the cohort and lays the ground for unexpected and creative collaborations to potentially emerge. (We ensure this through working with diverse organisations from across Europe as multipliers for our outreach).
  • We also explicitly invite feedback throughout the process and the programme as to whether we are building a sufficiently inclusive, non-discriminatory and anti-racist approach. We are committed to doing our very best to create and host a safe(r) space. We are only human though, meaning we might make mistakes. If you feel there’s anything we said or did that we should set right or improve on, please let us know via the anonymous feedback form →
  • To learn more about our understanding of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion please visit our dedicated DEI site here

Can I join only part of the Fellowship?

ChangemakerXchange and its partners invest significant resources into this Fellowship and the spaces for participants are limited. We therefore, for reasons of fairness towards other applicants as well as a sustainable use of resources, require participants to commit to participating in all parts of the programme and for the full duration of 1 year.

How will the financial support be allocated and transferred?

The deployment of the funds will be in form of a grant to a registered charitable non-profit entity (e.g. which is run by or employs the Fellow OR by a partner organisation of the Fellow that incubates the idea and/or manages it under their roof). Fellowship candidates without a legal entity can indicate so in the application form and we’ll do our best to support them with finding an alternative (e.g. by working with a partner organisation in the respective country).

Flexible Funding
In line with local regulations, the funds can be used flexibly, as long as they are used for the designated purpose.

Important note:

Please note that in the case of individuals without a charitable non-profit organisation, for legal reasons, and because we do not know the respective legislation of the country of the Fellow candidates before receiving their application, we cannot promise this is possible in every case – we are however committed to doing our very best to make sure every initiative ultimately receives financial support, and receives the same amount of funding.

Legal note:
Please note that legal hurdles may apply that make one form of financial transfer more feasible than others and that may lead to minor deviations from the 50,000 EURO contribution, we will provide assistance in finding the best way, case by case, and again are committed to an inclusive and equitable approach.

Who covers the costs of the Fellows participation in the summit and programme?

ChangemakerXchange will cover all costs associated with the physical gatherings and programme, such as: travel to and back from host cities, accommodation, catering, local transportation, room hire, equipment & material, COVID-19 rapid tests, FFP2 masks, facilitation & hosting compensation, carbon emissions offsetting derived from the local hosting, post-summit capacity-building programme and post-summit community engagement activities.

Note on Travel Costs: For logistical reasons we may have to ask Fellows to book their own transport to the host cities, and then reimburse them after the summit for their travel costs. People who cannot afford to pay for the trip can receive an advancement of the costs (versus a reimbursement after the summit).

This explicitly includes costs to ensure accessibility (e.g. if you’re in need of a support person we would also cover the costs of travel and accommodation for them, technical assistance and such).


What does your selection process look like in detail?

Our selection process involves the following steps:

  • Interested candidates are asked to submit their application until 5th Dec ‘23 CET, 11:59pm
  • Initial applicants are all read by at least two project team members and compared against the key criteria stated above (project, fit within Democratic renewal, personal criteria and Diversity & Inclusion).
  • We then meet in the project team to create an initial longlist of around 30-35 of the most promising candidates, with notes on areas we’d love to explore further in the interview phase.
  • An Advisory Committee, consisting of democracy and social innovation experts from across Europe, input on the shortlist and help us create a shortlist of up to 25 candidates.
  • There is then a dedicated interview team, featuring local and content experts, who conduct online interviews with the candidates (we have a streamlined scheduling process to make this smooth).
  • Interviews take place over a two-week period with all shortlisted candidates.
  • There is then a final selection call between all interviewers and the project team to make the final selection of 15 participants, again including input and advice from the Advisory Committee.

Please note: Given the high number of applications we receive and the limited staff capacity, only candidates who are being considered for the final shortlist will be invited to a short informal interview to ensure their suitability in the programme and their fit with the community. This informal interview will take place online and will be conducted by a member of the CXC core team or community member. Please also note that given the high number of applications we expect we won’t be able to provide individual feedback to candidates who are not shortlisted or interviewed. We thank you in advance for your understanding.


When and how will I hear back if I was selected?

We will do our best to notify all applicants by December 18th 2023 whether they were selected to move onto the interview stage. The interviews will take place between January 8th and February 1st 2024. We aim to notify all candidates about the final outcome of the selection by February 8th 2024.

Please note that you should have received a thank-you message when submitting your applications successfully and a short notification email from with a summary of your responses (please check your junk folder). If you did not see either, please contact us at .


Can I receive feedback on my application?

Unfortunately, we cannot provide individual feedback on each application. But we do send a thorough email to all applicants outlining the full application and selection process, as well as sharing useful resources for changemakers, which has always been appreciated by applicants in the past.

What is your approach to Inclusion?

We strive to be as inclusive as possible as an organisation and for all our activities, including the in-person summits. If you have any specific questions please don’t hesitate to reach out to .

Also, if needed, we will prepare a personalised “onboarding toolkit” ahead of the summit to answer any questions you might have regarding disability inclusion.


What is your COVID-19 policy?

We take COVID-19 and associated health risks extremely seriously. The health of our team, participants and partners is the highest priority for us! Since we cannot yet predict the exact situation at the time of the in-person summits in Mid 2024 we won’t be sharing recommendations and notes on restrictions just yet, but in case you are accepted as a participant please expect to receive an extensive COVID-19 briefing several weeks ahead of the summit.

Will you support with Visa applications?

Whilst we do everything we can to support your visa application by providing you with an invitation letter and hotel confirmation, please know that we cannot call the embassies / consulates to push for your visa. You will be responsible for your visa application process.

Beyond the Fellowship, what is the value of joining ChangemakerXchange?

We believe the words of our community do the best job of highlighting the value of joining ChangemakerXchange. Here’s just some of the feedback we’ve received from members throughout the years:

“I wanted to change the world for the better since I was 14. But everyone around me would tell me ‘be normal, go to college, get a job, don’t try to do more than you can’. After CXC, I realised that I don’t want to have a ‘normal’ life. I want an extraordinary life. I want to fully realise my mission to paint the world in bright colours of peace, unity, and love. And ChangemakerXchange catalysed the process of realising my mission. Thank you!”

“CXC is an incredible platform to change the mindset and perspective on many things (to the best of course). I can definitely say that I’ve been transformed, and I now have a much better understanding about what it takes to be a social entrepreneur, scaling impact and opening yourself to others.”

“CXC gave me a feeling of belonging. I have been part of many conferences and different communities, but CXC still feels like home because of the genuine values, the genuine goals and long-lasting friendships.”


The people behind the programme

Juan Francisco Baron
Juan is the Project Lead for Changemakers for Democracy and brings his facilitation and project management skills and background in arts, culture and democratic innovation to this programme.
Juan Francisco Barón Gandia (he/him), Lead
Jacklina is a facilitator for the Changemakers for Democracy Summit and brings many years of experience in creating participatory and productive spaces for collective impact to the programme.
Jacklina Eshaya (she/her), Facilitator
Isa is a facilitator for the Changemakers for Democracy Summit and brings extensive experience in hosting groups and supporting them to create collective impact to this programme.
Isabel Glaser (she/her), Facilitator
Portrait Miriam Sweeney
Miriam is the overall programmes lead at ChangemakerXchange and brings her community building and activism campaigns experience to this Fellowship.
Miriam Sweeney (she/they), Co-Lead
Bukola (Bukky) is an expert working on political risk advisory, human rights and public policy – she’s contributing to the programme as an interviewer of Fellow candidates.
Bukola Bolarinwa (she/her), Interviewer
Portrait Matthias Scheffelmeier
Matthias is a member of the core team at ChangemakerXchange and brings 15 years of experience in supporting social entrepreneurs, activists and changemakers to this programme.
Matthias Scheffelmeier (he/him), Co-Lead
CXC Headshot – Mubarak Idris
Mubarak is ChangemakerXchange’s Storyteller and brings his experience in building and managing digital campaigns through multimedia to promote social justice and gender equality to this programme.
Mubarak Idris (he/him), Storytelling and Social Media
Portrait Nadya Saib
Nadya creates beautiful communication for ChangemakerXchange and brings her content production, facilitation and wellbeing ‘superpowers’ to this programme.
Nadya Saib (she/her), Commmunications
Esmat Elsayed
Esmat is an expert in advocacy, debate, and dialogue and works on migration, human rights and freedom of speech – she’s contributing to the programme as an interviewer of Fellow candidates.
Esmat Elsayed (she/her) – Interviewer
Yelyzaveta Glybchenko • CXC Online Summit 2021 Europe & MENA
Lisa is a Ukrainian peace and democracy entrepreneur with a passion for education & digital media arts – she contributes to the programme as a researcher for potential Fellows.
Yelyzaveta (Lisa) Glybchenko (she/her), Researcher
Portrait Anouk Siegrist
Anouk is the Finance & Operations Lead at ChangemakerXchange. She brings extensive experience in finance management from working with food waste social enterprise SIRPLUS and CXC.
Anouk Siegrist (she/her/they), Finance
Portrait Greta Rossi
Greta is a Co-Founder of ChangemakerXchange and supports the programme by designing learning experiences (incl. the 5 day summit) and selecting / coordinating the team of facilitators and trainers.
Greta Rossi (she/her) – Facilitation
Nick McGirl
Nick is the Co-founder and Managing Director of ChangemakerXchange. His background straddles multiple countries and has been at the intersection of social innovation and education for over 10 years.
Nick McGirl (he/him) – Partnerships

Changemakers for Democracy

The applications for programme are open between 31st October to 5th December 2023

Changemakers for Democracy

  • Online / Germany
  • Deadline Passed
  • Supported by Open Society Foundations
  • We are looking for people who represent ideas, innovations, movements and collectives, which fit the theme of the Fellowship (democratic and economic renewal) and who are deeply rooted in the communities they work for. Whilst we’re open to applications from the founders or leaders of initiatives, we acknowledge that democracy is not a ‘hero fight’, hence we’re explicitly open to people who have been nominated or ‘put forward’ by their collective or team in order to represent them and their ideas.
  • For all eligibility criteria, please refer to our FAQs above.

Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom