Engaging Citizens from the Ground Up: Hartford Foundation Announces Get Out The Vote Initiative

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.” Unfortunately, an increasing number of people eligible to vote are not participating in the electoral process. Not surprisingly, some of the most underserved groups (including young adults, Latinos and Blacks  and people living in high poverty neighborhoods) are among the least likely to participate in federal, state and local elections. In an effort to increase engagement among these populations, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving has launched a nonpartisan Get Out The Vote initiative for Greater Hartford.

“Community voice and participation in the electoral process are vital to creating and sustaining more vibrant communities,” said Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams. “As the community foundation for Greater Hartford, we believe we have a role to fill in helping local nonprofit organizations deliver the education and outreach efforts that encourage people to register, learn about the issues that affect them and cast their ballot on Election Day. This is just a part of a long-term effort to empower the residents of our region, particularly those who often feel left out of important conversations on issues impacting their community.”

Following an open call for proposals, the Hartford Foundation has awarded thirteen grants totaling $116,565 to area nonprofits dedicated to informing and engaging underrepresented residents of Greater Hartford. The broad array of programs takes a community-based approach, working through neighbors, youth, family centers and libraries to help reach parents and students, returning citizens, LGBTQIA, first-generation Americans, and residents of Hartford’s most challenged neighborhoods. All of the organizations recently participated in an orientation session, receiving training on nonpartisan voter engagement guidelines from the Office of the Secretary of the State and the Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance (the Alliance).  In addition to educating and registering residents to vote leading up to the November election, organizations will also find ways to integrate civic and voter engagement activities into their ongoing work.

The Foundation will further support the work of these organizations with the launch of a targeted online advertising campaign throughout the fall. This effort includes a partnership with regional public access channels that are interviewing local residents about their hopes and concerns, which will be featured in the ads campaign.   In addition, the Foundation will be collaborating with other philanthropic organizations engaged in similar activities throughout Connecticut.

The following organizations are participating in the Hartford Foundation’s Get Out the Vote Initiative:

  • Advocacy to Legacy
  • Catholic Charities
  • Center for Latino Progress
  • Connecticut Students for a Dream (through its fiscal agent, United We Dream Network, Inc.)
  • CT Community Nonprofit Alliance
  • Full Citizens Coalitions (through its fiscal agent, Christian Activities Council)
  • Hartford 2000
  • Hartford Parent University
  • Health Equity Solutions
  • Latino Community Solutions, Inc.
  • MARC, Inc. of Manchester
  • San Juan Center, Inc.
  • Upper Albany Neighborhood Collaborative

Advocacy to Legacy, LLC has received a grant to target the West Indian population in and near Hartford, recruiting 10-15 youth (age 16-25) volunteers for canvassing in North End Neighborhoods. They will also collaborate with the West Indian Foundation, churches, the West Indian day parade and the National Council of Negro Women to reach membership and attend events to reach 300 residents and register a minimum of 200 voters.

Catholic Charities, Inc. will target residents of the Asylum Hill and North Hartford neighborhoods, using parent ambassadors from its Asylum Hill and Parker Memorial Family Centers. Door-to-door canvassing, community events and partnerships with local churches, daycare centers, etc. will be used to engage at least 300 residents and register a minimum of 200 new voters.

Center for Latino Progress will work in partnership with the Hartford Votes Coalition and Everyday Democracy to train youth ambassadors to engage 300 Latino youth and register a minimum of 200 people, and follow-up with a minimum 100 registered voters as a part of the Get Out the Vote initiative.

Christian Activities Council (as fiscal agent for Full Citizens Coalitions) will support the Full Citizens Coalition campaign to Unlock the Vote, which seeks to engage previously incarcerated people, people under the supervision of the Connecticut Department of Correction and their families.  The Full Citizens Coalition will focus its 2018 voter engagement project in the five neighborhoods of Hartford with the lowest voter turnout:  Clay Arsenal, Frog Hollow, Behind the Rocks, Upper Albany, and Northeast.  The Coalition will knock on approximately 2,600 doors, interview 600 residents, collect 400 pledges to vote and register 200 voters.

CT Community Nonprofit Alliance will provide one-on-one and group technical assistance on how to conduct nonpartisan get out the vote and civic engagement activities for other grantees (including nonmembers of the Alliance). Participating organizations will be invited to attend get out the vote briefings and other relevant events.

Hartford 2000 will work with the Hartford Public Library to utilize Hartford’s 13 Neighborhood Revitalization Zone boards and the Hartford Public Library’s neighborhood branches to engage a minimum of 500 people, register a minimum of 200 people, and follow-up with a minimum of 100 registered voters.

Hartford Parent University (HPU) will mobilize and train 25 HPU Parent Leaders who will be out in the field engaging parents to help improve their lives through education and civic engagement. The goal will be to engage at least 300 disenfranchised people over a period of ten months and register a minimum of 100 to vote in the 2018/2019 elections.

Health Equity Solutions will target residents of Greater Hartford, Black, Latino, Native American, LGBTQIA, and youth over the age of 17. Health Equity Solutions will engage a minimum of 750 people, register a minimum of 200 people, follow-up with a minimum 100 registered voters, and incorporate civic education in their work.

Latino Community Services, Inc.’s will target Latinos, African Americans, young adults (18-24), seniors, low-income individuals, Spanish speaking only persons and female-headed households. LCS will use canvassing, events and engagement at its offices and partner organization site to educate at least 300 people, register at least 200 and follow up with 100 people who sign pledge cards.

MARC Inc. of Manchester will target the population it serves-- people with intellectual and developmental disabilities-- as well as their families, employees, board members (over 500 people) and residents in Manchester. MARC will hold four educational seminars, provide rides to the primary and election day, host a voter registration event, and demonstrate accessible voting machines.

San Juan Center, Inc. will target residents of Greater Hartford, with a focus on Latino residents in the North and South ends of Hartford. The Center will engage a minimum of 300 people, register a minimum of 300 people, follow-up with a minimum 500 registered voters.

United We Dream Network, Inc. (as fiscal agent for Connecticut Students for a Dream) will engage its network of undocumented, immigrant, and first-generation American youth of color, under the age of 25. This effort will engage a minimum of 300 people who are eligible to vote in mix-immigration status families within the Greater Hartford region, register a minimum of 200 people and follow-up with a minimum of 100 registered voters.

Upper Albany Neighborhood Collaborative will target residents of Hartford and engage a minimum of 300 people, register a minimum of 200 voters and follow-up with a minimum of 100 registered voters.

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. Made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations, the Foundation has awarded grants of more than $720 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit www.hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.