As Connecticut looks forward to Election Day on November 6, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation (FCCF) has awarded 18 grants to civic-minded organizations that are determined to energize and educate the community to vote. This new civic engagement grants program, announced last month, is an innovative nonpartisan initiative designed to fund efforts to increase voter registration and information access for all Fairfield County residents, particularly those who are historically disenfranchised.
“The Communty Foundation is ecstatic with the response for requests for Get Out The Vote grants. All the organizations that applied were dynamic and energetic. As a result of the high caliber of applicants and the large applicant pool, we had to nearly double our budget for this program in its inaugural year. Our heartfelt thanks goes to our donors and suporters who make these types of high-impact initiatves possible, ”stated Mendi Blue-Paca, Vice President of Community Impact, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. She continues, “FCCF encourages the collective and collaborative power of nonprofits and is committed to inspiring participation in our democratic process.”
FCCF’s objective for the Get Out the Vote (GOTV) program is to increase civic engagement and improve models for nonprofits to register and engage voters. The organizations selected to receive GOTV grants translates to engaging over 5,000 people in the region to vote in the mid-term elections and for years to come.
Nearly 30 organizations applied in the brief window of the application process, which concluded at the end of July. FCCF’s Get Out the Vote program planned to fund 10 grants, but based on the outpouring of requests and the remarkable goals of impact from the applicants, FCCF selected 18 organizations that will each receive a $1,000 civic engagement grant. In addition to the grant, grantees participants will receive and benefit from one peer learning activity/brainstorming session in late August; be given the opportunity to shape Fairfield County’s Community Foundation’s first cross-county National Voter Registration Day Event on Tuesday, September 25, 2018, and be recognized as a partner on FCCF’s website and during the Community Foundation’s National Voter Registration Day events.
The grantees are from across Fairfield County and many serve multiple areas in the region. They include Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition, Bridgeport; Bridgeport Generation Now, Bridgeport; Burroughs Center, Bridgeport; CT Nonprofit Alliance, which is countywide and partners with 62 nonprofit organizations; Domus, based in Stamford; FaithActs, Bridgeport; Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County, based in Stratford serving Fairfield County; Housatonic Community College, Bridgeport with students from across the state; League of Women Voters Bridgeport, serving Bridgeport, Trumbull, Stratford, Shelton and Monroe; League of Women Voters Northern Fairfield County, serving Danbury, Bethel, Brookfield, New Fairfield, Newtown and Sherman; League of Women Voters Norwalk, Norwalk; League of Women Voters Stamford, serving Stamford and Norwalk; Make The Road CT, Bridgeport; NAACP Norwalk, Norwalk; National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc., based in Bridgeport; Norwalk Community College, based in Norwalk with students from across the state; YWCA Darien/Norwalk, based in Darien; and YWCA Greenwich, Greenwich.
Domus’ Executive Director, Mike Duggan, shared his excitement for being awarded the Get Out the Vote Grant from FCCF, “As part of our work to combat racial injustice, we want to make sure the young people we work with understand the power of their vote. Often youth who struggle in our community feel they don’t have a voice. It’s our job to make sure they know they can have an impact in their community by voting.”
Another grant recipient, the League of Women Voters of Northern Fairfield County, is a nonpartisan, gender-neutral group actively engaged in “helping to preserve democracy” in six area towns. Voter registration and advocacy are at the heart of its efforts. The FCCF grant will be used to develop and distribute print and digital communication materials, continuing the chapter’s efforts to foster greater voter awareness and participation.
Grantee Make The Road CT’s Director Barbara Lopez remarked “We are excited to work together with other organizations in the Fairfield County Community Foundation network to be able to get out and register voters in Bridgeport, particularly Latinx community members, recent Puerto Rican refugees who are now calling CT their home, and newly naturalized citizens, many of whom are eligible to vote for the first time this election cycle.”
FCCF’s Get Out the Vote (GOTV) program offers support to nonprofits to boost local efforts to engage underrepresented voters in Fairfield County. Organizations that were eligible to apply for the grants supported voter registration in general, and not with select political parties or candidates. These grants are meant to strengthen organizations that are giving a voice to individuals who are underrepresented in the political process.