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King County Elections and Seattle Foundation Award Nearly $1 million in Grants to Reduce Barriers to Voting Among Marginalized Communities

Summary

King County Elections (KCE) and the Seattle Foundation announce the recipients of $990,000 in grants for voter engagement and education work in marginalized and underrepresented communities. A total of 30 organizations were selected out of 62 applicants for the Voter Education Fund’s next two-year cycle.

Story

King County Elections (KCE) and the Seattle Foundation today announce the recipients of $990,000 in grants for voter engagement and education work in marginalized communities. A total of 30 organizations were selected out of 62 applicants for the Voter Education Fund’s next two-year cycle.

The Voter Education Fund began as a pilot in 2016 and was officially launched in 2017. This first-of-its-kind public-philanthropic-community partnership has reached nearly a million voters with educational information, registered 17,550 people, and held over 5,400 community events centered on participating in our democracy. The program grew out of an understanding of the shameful history of voter suppression that has disproportionally impacted communities of color, and that government is not always the best messenger in reaching those who have experienced institutional racism and exclusion.

“The Voter Education Fund is one of the programs that I am the proudest of at King County Elections. I fundamentally believe that our democracy is better when all voices are heard. Democracy is a work in progress and it’s up to us – election administrators and community alike – to step up and work to create space for those who have been silenced or left behind by the process,” stated Julie Wise, King County Director of Elections.

“We are proud to team up with King County Elections to ensure that all have a voice in our electoral system. A thriving democracy is a critical pillar in a resilient and vibrant community. We look forward to diving into the work with this cycle’s grantees to ensure equitable representation and provide opportunities for all to make their voice heard,” added Bao-Tram Do, Program Officer with Seattle Foundation.

Awardees are set to receive not only funds but also training and support to build capacity and infrastructure around voter registration, education, and get-out-the-vote work in the community that they serve. Focus communities for this grantee cycle include, but are not limited to Black, Indigenous, people of color, people experiencing homelessness, people convicted of a felony, limited-English speaking communities, people with disabilities, and youth of color.

Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA) is one of the several returning Voter Education Fund partners. ReWA provides services to refugee and immigrant women and families to help them thrive.

“ReWA is thrilled to be a part of this cycle’s Voter Education Fund cohort and we look forward to continuing to build on our voter education and engagement work. One of the many services that we provide is helping women and families through the immigration process to become U.S. citizens. The next step after citizenship is participating in our democracy through voting. We’re proud to help our communities access and exercise their right to vote and use their voices to speak for themselves and their community,” stated Mahnaz Eshetu, Executive Director of ReWA.

There are also many groups new to the Voter Education Fund this cycle, including the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle. Located in Seattle’s Central District, the Urban League focuses on empowering African Americans and others who have been marginalized so they can thrive.

“Even though we are new to the Voter Education Fund, the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle has a long history of voter education and empowerment. We are excited to join the Voter Education Fund to make sure that Black, Brown and vulnerable populations such as previously incarcerated and first-time voters in King County are able to cast their vote and make their voices heard,” said Michelle Merriweather, President & CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle.

Grants are awarded only to 501(c)3 organizations committed to non-partisan voter registration and education work in King County. Organizations receiving funding will attend a kickoff training with King County Elections during the month of June and will begin Voter Education Fund events in earnest in July 2021. Funds awarded will support these organizations through the 2021 and 2022 elections.

2021-2022 Voter Education Fund Award Recipients

Access to Our Community (ATOC)
Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS)
Brothers United in Leadership Development (BUILD)
Dignity for Divas Voter Education Initiative
Eritrean Association in Greater Seattle
Gay City: Seattle’s LGBTQ Center
Hearing, Speech, and Deaf Center
Indian Association of Western Washington (IAWW)
Indigenous Showcase dba Longhouse Media
Institute for Community Leadership
InterIm Community Development Association
International Community Health Services (ICHS)
Korean American Coalition of Washington
Latino Community Fund
Mother Africa
Mujer al Volante
Northwest Credible Messenger
Para Los Ninos
Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA)
Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness
Seattle Rideshare Drivers Association (SRDA)
South Seattle Emerald
United Territories of Pacific Islanders’ Alliance (UTOPIA)
Urban League
UrbVote
Vera Project
Villa Communitaria
VOCAL/PDA
Washington Bus Education Fund
West African Community Council

Quotes

The Voter Education Fund is one of the programs that I am the proudest of at King County Elections. I fundamentally believe that our democracy is better when all voices are heard. Democracy is a work in progress and it’s up to us – election administrators and community alike – to step up and work to create space for those who have been silenced or left behind by the process.

Julie Wise, Director of King County Elections

We are proud to team up with King County Elections to ensure that all have a voice in our electoral system. A thriving democracy is a critical pillar in a resilient and vibrant community. We look forward to diving into the work with this cycle’s grantees to ensure equitable representation and provide opportunities for all to make their voice heard.

Bao-Tram Do, Program Officer at Seattle Foundation

ReWA is thrilled to be a part of this cycle’s Voter Education Fund cohort and we look forward to continuing to build on our voter education and engagement work. One of the many services that we provide is helping women and families through the immigration process to become U.S. citizens. The next step after citizenship is participating in our democracy through voting. We’re proud to help our communities access and exercise their right to vote and use their voices to speak for themselves and their community.

Mahnaz Eshetu, Executive Director of ReWA

Even though we are new to the Voter Education Fund, the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle has a long history of voter education and empowerment. We are excited to join the Voter Education Fund to make sure that Black, Brown and vulnerable populations such as previously incarcerated and first-time voters in King County are able to cast their vote and make their voices heard.

Michelle Merriweather, President & CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle

Media contact

Halei Watkins
206-477-4111
hawatkins@kingcounty.gov

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