The Voter Education Fund is investing in 33 community-based organizations to increase voter education and outreach. These organizations are serving communities of color, limited-English speaking communities, people with disabilities, low-income youth, veterans, people experiencing homelessness, people who have been convicted of a felony and other underserved communities.
Grantees reflect a wide variety of constituencies, with strong representation among organizations working to increase youth voting and civic participation, including Washington Bus, SOAR and the Institute for Community Learning. Washington State recently passed new legislation that allows 16 and 17-year-old residents to pre-register to vote in order to encourage participation, and will implement automatic voter registration that makes it easier to register. Both of those provisions go into effect in June 2019.
"With so much energy and momentum across the country and state by youth who want to engage in the political process, we are excited to see dynamic organizations working to increase the influence and voice of young people in our democracy," said Tony Mestres, President and CEO of Seattle Foundation.
This year 72 community-based organizations applied for two grant levels: one for up to $20,000 to develop a 2018 campaign to engage voters or potential voters, or a second to provide up to $10,000 for holding a series of smaller events. Of the 33 selected organizations, 22 are return grantees, reflecting a continuation of strong efforts and outreach.
"The Voter Education Fund is a critical and innovative way to help voters be civically connected,” said Julie Wise, Director of King County Elections. “It’s exciting that in only our third year we saw a record number of organizations applying. I think this speaks to the value of this program.”
Following a pilot program in 2016, the Voter Education Fund successfully launched in 2017, awarding $435,000 to 30 community-based organizations throughout King County. Grantees created voter engagement campaigns and hosted multiple events, including voter registration drives, ballot parties and well-attended candidate forums.
This year’s fund will also emphasize voter outreach efforts to people who are experiencing homelessness as well as people who have been convicted of a felony. Grantees like Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness and B.E.S.T. (Being Empowered Thru Supportive Transitions) will focus their efforts on educating those groups with the goal of removing confusion around voter eligibility.
The full list of 2018 grantees is: