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Vote Your Voice: Program expands with new grants to student organizations that support voting rights across the South

The Vote Your Voice initiative has further expanded with nearly $85,000 in new grants to student organizations at universities across the South.

The Vote Your Voice College Pilot, announced this week, will provide grants to student organizations at Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, Alabama; Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi; Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Southern University and A&M College, also in Baton Rouge.

“These grants ensure that young changemakers are equipped to empower those around them and stand up for their community’s rights,” said Fred McBride, senior policy adviser with Voting Rights at the Southern Poverty Law Center. “By helping their peers exercise their fundamental right to vote, young advocates from diverse grassroots organizations are laying the groundwork for a brighter future in the Deep South.”

Vote Your Voice is a partnership between the SPLC and the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta to increase voter registration, participation and civic engagement among communities of color in the Deep South. Vote Your Voice is also strengthening the capacity of grassroots organizations through data and fundraising support and the testing of effective voter engagement strategies.

Last month, Vote Your Voice announced that 39 voter outreach organizations across the Deep South are receiving more than $4.6 million in funding as part of a new round of Vote Your Voice grants.

This year’s awards add to an earlier investment of more than $11 million in two-year grants that were provided last year.

The new grants to student organizations, totaling $84,450, represent yet another expansion of the Vote Your Voice program.

The SPLC has pledged $100 million to support Vote Your Voice through 2032.

Here are the new grant recipients and what they plan to do with their awards:

  • Alabama A&M University: $22,000 to the Alabama A&M University Civic Engagement Team to recruit resident assistants (RAs) who will help students check voter registration status and register to vote.
  • Emory University: $10,450 to Mu Alpha Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity to increase voter outreach and registration in Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton counties.
  • Jackson State University: $14,000 to plan and host civic engagement activities for the student body and surrounding public.
  • Louisiana State University: $13,000 to the Clarence L. Barney Jr. African American Cultural Center for education, public information and voter registration for LSU students and members of the surrounding community.
  • Southern University and A&M College: $25,000 grant to the Southern University-Baton Rouge Alpha Phi Alpha – Beta Sigma and Beta Iota Lambda Chapters in partnership with the Southern University Chapter of the NAACP to increase voter turnout among the student body and surrounding communities.

“The right to vote is foundational to our democracy,” said Ayana Gabriel, vice president of community impact for the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.

“It is through voting that citizens make known their wishes for their communities, their families and their futures,” Gabriel said. “The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta is pleased to partner with SPLC on the Vote Your Voice College Pilot grants in working to ensure that our neighbors understand and appreciate the privilege of the vote and of living in a democratic society.”

Malcolm Phillips, president of the Mu Alpha Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity at Emory University, agreed. “Youth play a critical role in shaping our collective future,” Phillips said. “By uniting our collective voice and making sure we have equal access to the ballot, we can advocate for the changes our communities need.”