The SPLC today announced the beginning of a new application process in its Vote Your Voice initiative that will make more than $10 million in grants available to Deep South organizations to build capacity and scale up their voter outreach and civic engagement efforts over the next two years.
In 2020, Vote Your Voice provided over $12 million in support to 40 nonpartisan, nonprofit voter outreach organizations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi to increase voter registration and participation among people of color during the general and runoff elections.
These organizations reached out to millions of people in communities of color across the five states to encourage registration. Then they urged and supported infrequent voters of color to participate in elections.
Applications for the next wave of grants are now available, proposals are due by March 24, and grants will be awarded by April 30.
Average grant sizes in the next round are estimated to range from $50,000 to $300,000.
“Following record turnout in the 2020 election, legislators right now in many Deep South statehouses are using the deadly conspiracy theories that fueled violence in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 to justify the introduction and passage of bills severely restricting the freedom to vote,” said Margaret Huang, SPLC president and CEO. “Right now, we are fighting for a desperately needed restoration of the Voting Rights Act, but in the meantime, we aren’t waiting for a superhero. We continue to believe deeply in empowering Southern organizations to do the hard work on the ground registering, educating and mobilizing voters regardless of what new barriers are erected or which longstanding ones fall in the coming years.”
Securing full access to voting and robust voter participation requires a multi-pronged approach including the enactment of fair election laws, equitable redistricting, and voter registration and mobilization.
The Vote Your Voice initiative, a program of the SPLC that is administered through the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, funds a range of voter and civic engagement efforts.
Vote Your Voice grantees made at least 75 million total attempts to contact voters in the 2020 election cycle, including 5.4 million contact attempts by phone, 2.2 million by in-person canvassing, 29.7 million by texting, 36.7 million by digital strategies and 1 million by mail. Among those organizations that tracked their outreach at the individual voter level, 67% of those contacted were Black and 11% were Latinx.
These groups also used innovative strategies to reach voters not usually targeted by the major campaigns, including: providing voter information alongside community services such as food banks, engaging in partnerships with the faith community and college campuses, helping voters with transportation to the polls, using radio messaging and sponsoring billboards.
Complementing the Vote Your Voice initiative, the SPLC also spent nearly $3 million in the Georgia general and runoff elections to encourage voters of color who were unlikely to cast a ballot to vote absentee to help reduce the long lines at polls that voters routinely face. The SPLC also provided funds to Fulton County to assist in the purchase of additional absentee drop boxes.
Nonpartisan organizations from five Southern states – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi – are eligible to apply. Two-year grants will enable nonprofits to work on a range of activities to secure full voter participation and achieve equitable representation, including:
- Voter registration and mobilization activities among voters of color, particularly those facing significant barriers to participation, such as returning citizens, young people, those who have been purged from voter rolls and infrequent voters generally not contacted by the major campaigns;
- Efforts to protect voting rights and ensure full access to voting as well as voting rights restoration for formerly incarcerated people; and
- Community engagement to achieve fair redistricting.
Application guidelines and materials are available here.
Photo by Ariel Skelley/Getty