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Milica Panic

Chief of Party, CSM-STAND project

Maggie Marshall

program manager

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Read the latest CSM-STAND newsletter


CSM-STAND is two regional programs funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that aim to strengthen independent media and civil society around the world. The programs are managed by Pact, which co-leads a consortium of organizations with IREX.


Launched in 2021, the CSM-STAND consortium is pursuing three key objectives:

  • Build civil society and independent media capacity and leadership to constructively engage in civic space
  • Provide the democracy, rights and governance sector with cutting-edge technical resources and adaptable program options
  • Operationalize and effectively manage a broad-based, diverse consortium for program implementation


Thriving, inclusive and independent civil society and media are key to vibrant democracies. Yet in many countries, declining social trust, shrinking civic space and polluted information ecosystems undermine the ability of civil society and media to serve the people they are intended to represent and inform. Despite important examples of progress, too many countries are facing increasingly authoritarian governance, erosion of basic freedoms, restrictions on independent media and the exclusion of entire groups of people from meaningful participation in civic life.

Even within the most restrictive environments, dedicated civic and media activists work to serve and inform their constituencies, sometimes at great risk. Through CSM-STAND, Pact, IREX and our partners are working closely with USAID to build civil society and media’s capacities to credibly represent citizen interests and hold governments accountable through advocacy, oversight and outreach to constituents.


In addition to starting work on programs in Africa, Asia and Latin America, CSM-STAND has just launched a learning agenda, which will direct how we develop learning questions to be answered through our applied research and participatory learning activities globally. The learning agenda has three focus areas and four cross-cutting priorities:



Additionally, we will focus our learning activities on interventions that address one or more of our cross-cutting priority areas:

● Women- and/or youth-led activities
● Questions around what resources and capacities, broadly defined, sustain positive change
● Dimensions of civic space
● Activities that have the goal to change behavior or norms


Visit the CSM-STAND supported space for practice, action, research and knowledge, Spark, at learnwithspark.org. There you can access courses, publications, informational videos and more for free.



Keep up with CSM-STAND's latest news with our quarterly newsletter. For programmatic updates, upcoming events, spotlights on projects and partners, and learning products, sign up here.


Our consortium includes talented global, regional and technical partners with proven expertise and commitment to strengthening civil society and media. In addition to IREX, our global partners include the Aga Khan Foundation, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law and The Asia Foundation. In Africa and MENA, our regional partners are AfriLabs, Arab Network for Civic Education, Samir Kassir Foundation, Sonke Gender Justice and West Africa Civil Society Institute. In Asia, Europe and Eurasia, and LAC, our regional partners are European Journalism Centre, MAKAIA, Prague Civil Society Centre, FORUM-ASIA and Fundación Gabo. Across both projects, we’ve assembled an innovative team of technical partners including Moonshot, Omdena, eQualitie and TechSoup.


Stories and Highlights

Pact launches program in Dominican Republic to address citizen security through empowered civic actors

September 15, 2023
The USAID Civil Society Strengthening Activity in the Dominican Republic, a $12.5M program funded by USAID, aims to increase the ability of at-risk communities to prevent crime and violence by...

Rebuilding trust in media and civil society: The evidence on how to treat information disorders

March 2, 2023
During a recent workshop in a country where the mainstream media is increasingly filled with  government-sponsored disinformation, members of independent media and civil society organizations voiced...

Pact, IREX and CSM-STAND consortium launch project to tackle technology-facilitated gender-based violence globally

November 10, 2022
In September, the Civil Society and Media - Strengthened Together and Advancing in New Directions (CSM-STAND) program, implem

CSM-STAND launches Spark, a learning space supporting democracy, human rights and governance

October 11, 2022
With more than 126 learning resources in 10 languages, the USAID-funded Civil Society and Media Strengthened Together and Advancing in New Directions (CSM-STAND) programs are proud to launch Spark, a...

Advancing Pluralism Together: October 13, 2022

September 22, 2022
On October 13, 2022, CSM-STAND is hosting a conversation with Meredith Preston McGhee, General Secretary Global Centre for Pluralism, and other leaders advancing pluralism through civil society and...

Spark is coming soon!

September 21, 2022
Spark provides a space for learning resource exchange, practice, preparation for action, research, and knowledge mobilization among civil society and independent media actors. Spark aims is to...
Radio call-in show in Somalia

USAID awards Pact, IREX and partners two major awards to strengthen civil society and media for inclusive, representative democratic societies

September 15, 2021
USAID has chosen Pact, along with IREX and our consortium partners, to lead two new regional programs, each titled Civil Society and Media – Strengthened Together and Advancing in New...