Our Story

In 2017, former World Chess Champion and Russian dissident Garry Kasparov knew democracy was in peril. In America, political systems experienced increasing radicalism, harming rational discourse nationwide. Meanwhile, democracies abroad were backsliding, empowering dictators worldwide.

To meet these challenges, Kasparov brought together a cross-partisan group of leaders including Democratic Senators Heidi Heitkamp and Bob Kerrey, Pulitzer Prize-winners Bret Stephens and Anne Applebaum, Republican Congressman Mickey Edwards, former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, and former World Poker Champion Annie Duke. Together, they established the Renew Democracy Initiative (RDI), a non-partisan idea advocacy organization committed to defending democracy in the Free World, combatting authoritarianism abroad, and highlighting how they intersect.


Garry at a book talk in 2015. Photography credit: Justin Hoch | JHoch Photography


In 2018, the organization published Fight for Liberty: Defending Democracy in the Age of Trump, a collection of essays from RDI board members on the struggle for democracy globally. In 2019, RDI focused on producing engaging content to promote democratic ideals and inform the public about threats to democracy and freedom.

In the fall of 2021, RDI launched the Frontlines of Freedom initiative with the RDI-CNN original series Voices of Freedom, uniting over 100 of the world’s most prominent dissidents to shed light on the global struggle against authoritarianism and rally those of us living in the free world to defend our own democracies.

In February of 2022, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, RDI rapidly expanded its humanitarian aid campaigns to support and defend Ukraine. RDI has provided more than $7 million in aid to Ukraine, including approximately 100,000 thousand Meals Ready-to-Eat (MREs) and 15,000 sleeping bags to those living on the frontlines of the Russian invasion, along with portable water filtration units that can provide clean water for up to 30,000 people every single day.

RDI continues to focus on creating popular and engaging content for the general public, producing its own podcasts, newsletter, and video series, to unite Americans across the political spectrum in defense of democratic ideals.