GMF Cities Launches “Cities Fortifying Democracy”: Bringing Together a Transatlantic Cohort of Cities to Work Together to Strengthen Democracy

June 23, 2021

Twelve participant cities include: Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Dublin, Frankfurt, Warsaw; Charlotte, Fort Collins, Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, and Seattle

Washington, DC (June 23, 2021) — In the face of growing concerns over the strength of democracy worldwide, cities are increasingly on the frontlines of fortifying it. Even if most city officials are unlikely to frame their work in terms of “democracy,” they play a key role in supporting it. When cities actively engage residents to develop effective solutions to problems, the trust this generates not only inoculates people against populist appeals but also fosters innovation and a strong sense of community infused with democratic values.  

The German Marshall Fund has launched “Cities Fortifying Democracy,” a first-of-its-kind cohort of American and European cities that will come together in teams to collaborate on what cities are and can be doing to strengthen the foundation of democracy from the ground up.

Participating European cities are: Amsterdam, Netherlands; Athens, Greece; Barcelona, Spain; Dublin, Ireland; Frankfurt, Germany; Warsaw, Poland; and from the U.S.: Charlotte, NC; Fort Collins, CO; Minneapolis, MN; Oklahoma City, OK; Philadelphia, PA; and Seattle, WA.

Over the next 12 months, the cohort — comprised of twelve five-person city teams — will zero in on the democratic vulnerabilities and innovations in four key areas where local stakeholders can make a difference: governing, voting and elections, public safety and justice, and local journalism.

“Why put a dozen cities from Europe and the United States together to discuss the demise of democracy and what they are doing, or should be doing, to strengthen its foundation on the ground in cities? After all, we don’t use the same local governing systems,” writes GMF Cities director Steven Bosacker. “But we do share something bigger…We share a deep and long-held belief in the values of liberal democracy being the superior form of self-government by and for the people.”

GMF Cities works with and for cities in Europe and North America to further and fortify democracy; see that there is agency for all residents; promote justice in the social, economic and climate realms; and drive enterprise and entrepreneurship to social good; therefore, bringing the innovation of local actors to global issues. The Cities Fortifying Democracy is part of a portfolio of projects created by GMF Cities.

For more information on GMF Cities visit