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‘Better Preparedness: Funding Resilience,’ is an initiative hosted by Human Rights Funders Network (HRFN) and brings together peace and security and human rights funders so that they can deliver more coordinated, effective, and efficient resources in contexts of extreme threat or crisis. In 2023-2024, a series of dedicated labs will bring funders together to reimagine resourcing in restricted civic space and in crisis. In learning sessions and through joint prototyping, we will:

  • Explore how to move money to frontline movements in the increasingly challenging terrain of human rights;
  • Build concrete steps for coordination within our own institutions and across the field;
  • Practice, design, and refine systems to prepare for an uncertain future; and
  • Work in partnership with civil society and movements to develop funding that is responsive and grounded in the realities activists face.

The series of learning and codesign labs will help us as a community build a new blueprint for coordination by June 2024, following the arc below. Due to the nature of initiative, some labs will be held in closed sessions with Core Group members only. Others – including a Learning Labs Week held last November – are open to a broader community of funders and civil society and movement partners.

Read the scoping
research report that is driving the initiative.


This initiative is first and foremost for human rights and peace and security foundations working in highly restricted civic space and/or in crisis contexts. 

For questions or to express interest, please contact us at


There are two ways staff from foundations can participate:

Core Group: Foundations that commit to participating in the full initiative and attending most sessions. Core Group members will be eligible for Co-design Labs, where we will actively co-design the tools and approaches crafted through this initiative. Staff members may rotate based on interest and topic. Submissions for Core Group membership are now closed. 

HRFN Community of Practice (CoP): Foundation staff interested in attending distinct open sessions. Participants from funding institutions will be vetted through HRFN’s community of practice for human rights defenders and closing civic space.

Civil Society

Civil society organizations are welcome to participate in open sessions, including the Learning Labs Week. The Initiative also engages a global Civil Society Advisory Group, which participates in codesigning and providing feedback on outputs (such as a coordination blueprint) at key moments.


The series will include a range of learning and codesign labs, building toward coordination mechanisms and approaches by mid-2024.

Due to the nature of initiative, some labs will be held in closed sessions with Core Group members only. Others – including a Learning Labs Week in early November – will be open to a broader community of funders and civil society and movement partners.

Initiative Launch
Tues, 12 September 2023

11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. ET
Register Here

Open event for foundations and civil society representatives to learn about the initiative and determine their level of involvement

Learning Labs Week 
13-16 November 2023

Our Learning Labs Week (13-16 November) brought together a powerful set of thought leaders to address the challenges facing human rights actors in crisis and closing civic space. We asked:

  • How do we move money where it’s needed most? 
  • As funders, what kind of early warning systems could help us be better prepared for crises? 
  • Who is shifting the power in decolonizing grant-making?
  • Could AI impact human rights for the better?

Listen to the hard truths and learn more about the solutions to complex human rights challenges in each of the sessions below.

Lab 1: Early Warning Systems
Lab 2: Banking and Legal Solutions
Lab 3: Decolonizing and Localizing Grantmaking
Lab 4: AI and Human Rights 

Codesign Labs

From December 2023 through April 2024, Codesign Labs will be the space to co-create, build, and test solutions. Refine and prototype new and existing tools for action. Codesign labs are for core foundations and build toward concrete practices and coordination mechanisms.

Validation Session – CIVIL SOCIETY
April 2024

Participants: Civil society

Consultation to share outputs to date. Focus on transparency, accountability, and input on initiative direction.

Validation session – CORE GROUP

HRFN Festival (Tbilisi)
Week of 22 April 2024

Participants: Core Group


A Guiding Group of advisors provides feedback on direction, content, and blueprint components:

  • Jerusha Burnham, Freedom House (Director of Emergency Assistance Program)
  • Tracey Gurd, American Jewish World Service – AJWS (Senior Director, Civil and Political Rights/Advocacy and Jewish Engagement)
  • Karen Karnicki, Rockefeller Brothers Fund (Program Officer, Peacebuilding)
  • Kate Kroeger, Urgent Action Fund (Executive Director), rotating with Celia Turner, Urgent Action Sister Fund (Partnerships Managing Officer)
  • Olive Moore, Front Line Defenders (Deputy Director and Interim Executive Director)
  • Otto Saki, Ford Foundation (Program Officer, Civic Engagement and Government)
  • Bryan Sims, Humanity United (Senior Manager, Peacebuilding)
  • Carol Werunga, Urgent Action Fund – Africa (Executive Director) 

We gratefully acknowledge the partnership and guidance of the team at FICS (Funders Initiative for Civil Society).

This work is made by possible by HRFN membership dues and the generous support of our initiative sponsors:


We gratefully acknowledge the partnership and guidance of our co-sponsors:

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