To strengthen democracy around the world, organizations and activists constantly make strategic choices about how best to inform, engage, and amplify the voices of ordinary people and mobilize collective action. Research often is not available to serve the needs of these actors. The Center on Democracy and Organizing (CDO) is a newly-established university-based center with the aim of generating usable research, sharpening the strategic capacity of participating organizations, and developing a generation of scholars from diverse backgrounds who can do work that addresses the concrete needs of practitioners. “This isn’t about being the messiah,” Lisa García Bedolla told the Center for Race and Gender in 2018, when the CDO was still in its planning stages. “This is about producing knowledge that is informed, that values what we learn in the academy equally to what is happening on the ground.” García Bedolla is Berkeley’s vice provost for graduate studies and dean of the graduate division and a principal investigator for the CDO, joined by Professor of Political Science and Law Taeku Lee; and Hahrie Han, Anton Vonk Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara.