GC Impact Changemaker Award for his work elevating youth power and civic engagement throughout the entire country. Whenever you talk to a grantee of Sanjiv’s from the Ford Foundation, they all say the same thing: Sanjiv is exceptional. .His experience teaching and leading youth-serving non-profits have led Sanjiv to ask the tough questions and to put young people and equity efforts front and center in his grantmaking. Sanjiv has played a critical role in pushing philanthropy to think critically about its role in elevating youth voices to disrupt the power dynamics that have historically defined American society. He has made a difference for GC and made a difference for our democracy.

Sanjiv Rao is director of the foundation’s Civic Engagement and Government program, which seeks to strengthen representation, participation, and leadership in US democracy so that communities have the capacities to shape their futures, animated by principles of dignity, inclusion, and fairness.

Sanjiv joined the foundation in 2012 as a program officer, working on what was then the foundation’s education portfolio. Over time, his grant-making evolved to focus on youth organizing, civic engagement, and leadership development. In his current role, Sanjiv builds on his past work within and outside the foundation by emphasizing ideas that are particularly relevant to Civic Engagement and Government: stitching together civil society organizations more effectively with public systems, supporting community-led solutions to systems change, and advancing agendas that center people and their lived experience in shaping inclusive civic spaces and responsive public institutions.

Before joining the foundation, Sanjiv served as executive director of the New York State Network for Youth Success, where he led policy efforts to integrate youth development more effectively with the public systems that touch the lives of young people, particularly those from communities of concentrated poverty. Sanjiv began his career as an elementary school teacher in California, Texas, and Mexico. He has also held positions at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University and as a member of the research team studying the Ford-funded Leadership for a Changing World program at New York University.

Sanjiv has a Ph.D. in public administration from New York University, a master’s degree in education from the University of California, Berkeley, and a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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