Coming Together: A Conversation with Rajiv Vinnakota

Rajiv Vinnakota , President

March 29, 2023

Citizens & Scholars president Rajiv Vinnakota appeared on the Philanthropy Masterminds podcast to talk about the importance of cross-partisan collaboration when cultivating the next generation of effective citizens.  

The conversation, hosted by DonorSearch, ranged from Raj’s own experience that shaped his view of civic duty to the importance of building “unlikely alliances” in funding, programming, and systems change for civic learning initiatives. 

Raj also talked about the main thing giving him hope for democracy in uncertain times: the 44 million young people about to enter the public square. 

“Young people are of the mindset that there are big issues that we’ve got to figure out how to solve and that they want to solve them,” Raj told host Jay Frost. “But they need the infrastructure. They need the adult scaffolding around them to be able to both practice and be able to understand. To know how our government functions, know how to make change, and know how to make progress happen in productive ways. Then they can take all their energy in the correct direction.” 

Philanthropy Masterminds

Listen to the full episode of Citizens & Scholars president Rajiv Vinnakota on the Philanthropy Masterminds podcast.

From rural community organizations to large university campuses, business board rooms to the dinner table, Citizens & Scholars is bringing together partners to ensure a majority of young people have all the scaffolding they need to productively engage as citizens.  

“We need to get to young people effectively and with enough time for them to practice these habits,” said Raj. “These capacities and role models exist. If you take your eye off Washington DC for a while and just look around, you’ll see this happening everywhere.” 

Preparing the next generation of citizens is how we protect democracy for the long haul. Raj spoke to the need for philanthropy to put up patient capital in this emerging space: “We have got to invest today for the kids who are going to be here 20 years from now. We have a vision of a society that believes and engages in self-government. That means you come together to actually solve the problems of our community, of our regions, our states, and our nation.” 

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