Community members in rural Nepal


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.


  • Year began


  • Geographic reach

    Africa and the Middle East and North Africa + Asia, Europe and Eurasia, and Latin America and the Caribbean




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:

  • Safety and well-being

    Safety and well-being

    Interventions to improve digital, physical, and psychosocial safety and well-being for journalists, activists, and organizations.

  • Networks  and collective action

    Networks  and collective action

    Interventions to strengthen and diversify networks, collaboration, and collective action across borders and boundaries. Interventions may focus on formal coalitions or social movements, and boundaries may be geographic or social.

  • Information integrity and  trustworthiness of civic and  media institutions

    Information integrity and  trustworthiness of civic and  media institutions

    Interventions to increase the independence and capacity of civil society and media organizations, and to improve the quality, relevance, and reach of information they put out, with the aim of becoming more trustworthy to the public.

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 There you can access courses, publications, informational videos and more for free.


Document cover image of the CSM-STAND fact sheet

To learn more about CSM-STAND, please see our latest program fact sheet.

Download Fact Sheet

CSM-STAND Newsletter

CSM-STAND Newsletter

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.

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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.