Common Cause honors Ajay Raju with ‘Building a Better Democracy’ award

Ajay Raju

Dilworth Paxson Chairman and CEO honored for “building stronger communities, encouraging citizen activism, and bolstering the integrity of our government.”

Crusading good government watchdog Common Cause honored white shoe law firm Dilworth Paxson’s Chairman & CEO and venture capitalist Ajay Raju for his philanthropic foundation’s work on the front lines of civic activism in Philadelphia and beyond.

Spotlighting a pair of the Raju Foundation’s flagship initiatives, its upstart news outlet the Philadelphia Citizen and its catalytic leadership incubator the Germination Project, Common Cause Executive Director Micah Sims lauded the “rebellious spirit” shared by Common Cause and the Raju Foundation.

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Founded in 1970, Common Cause empowers its 1.12 million members and supporters to advance non-partisan, pro-democracy electoral reforms at the state and national levels. Since its inception, Common Cause reform actions have been won in congressional districts and state legislatures around the country.

Every other year, Common Cause honors like-minded champions of civic engagement for outstanding efforts to build a better democracy. Past recipients include other influential Pennsylvanians such as Vanguard Group founder John Bogle.

As its most recent honoree, Raju took the stage at Center City’s Pyramid Club, flanked by 30 high school and college students, all Germination Project Fellows from Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs.

While Raju remained silent among his young proteges, Wharton student Monica Volodarsky, a Germination Project Fellow, approached the podium and introduced herself with the disclaimer that any one of her peers on stage could just as easily have been standing in her place.

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That disclaimer, explained Volodarsky, spoke to the fact that the mission of the Raju Foundation and its initiatives is not to serve the interest of any one individual, group or policy, but to pursue an idea, “the idea that Philadelphia may once again become a global center of policy, commerce and culture.”

Volodarsky described that idea as a “vision of and for a future in which all Philadelphians are compelled to recommit to our shared civic fortune,” emphasizing the Germination Project’s determination to cultivate the next pioneers in world-changing, life-saving innovation and the Raju Foundation’s advocacy for access to “education that nourishes mind and spirit from infancy to adulthood.”

Turning to the Philadelphia Citizen, Volodarsky heralded its role as not merely a journalistic vessel for the “transmission of information, but a portal to engagement and an invitation for citizens to reshape the events unfolding around us.”

Underscoring her thesis that the “success of this idea lies not in its final achievement but in our ceaseless pursuit,” Volodarsky noted that Philadelphia Citizen co-founder Larry Platt, who had been scheduled to join her on stage, had been called off to host a panel on restoring integrity and democratic values to journalism in a fractured political climate.

As she concluded her remarks, the Germination Project fellows departed the stage, followed by Raju, having said not a word.

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