Hartford Foundation Awards $200,000 in Grants to Support Census and Voter Registration Efforts

Five grants will target civic engagement activities for underrepresented communities in Greater Hartford

The Hartford Foundation remains committed to supporting civic engagement across our region. Last year, the Hartford Foundation awarded 20 grants totaling $448,400 over eighteen months to support voter engagement and Census participation activities among several underrepresented groups. With COVID-19’s disproportionate and devastating impact on many of the same communities, several organizations have been developing alternative strategies to encourage residents to fill out the Census and register to vote.

This past spring, the Foundation issued a request for proposal (RFP) to provide additional support for civic engagement and voter engagement activities.  After reviewing 18 proposals, the Foundation selected five to receive grants totaling $186,100 to implement a wide array of activities including in-person and online events, social media and text campaigns, transportation to the polls, targeted advertising, and data collection and technical assistance to inform outreach efforts. In order to be more flexible and responsive to potential issues related to COVID-19, the Foundation has set aside another $13,900 should these organizations require additional resources.

“The agencies receiving these grants are organizations that have strong connections to the community, proven track records, and have developed well-defined, practical plans for working with underrepresented residents living in the Hartford region,” said Hartford Foundation Senior Community Investments Officer Yvette Bello. “We remain committed to helping local nonprofit organizations reach and encourage people to register to vote, learn about the issues that affect them and cast their ballot on Election Day. Along with supporting voter participation, our network of grantees is encouraging residents to complete their Census questionnaire.  Combined, these efforts ensure that communities are counted and that residents take an active role in determining how public resources are used.”

The following five organizations received Hartford Foundation Civic Engagement Grants:

Blue Hills Civic Association ($50,000) – “Civic Voices" will engage and train a team of 15-20 youth (who will receive stipends) to increase participation in elections and close the race and age voting gap through a social media campaign, voter registration activities, pledge cards, and text campaigns. The Association is partnering with national When We All Vote (WWAV) initiative. Adaptations are planned for COVID-19 social distancing requirements. The objective is to increase civic empowerment among youth team members and embed voter registration and engagement in all Association activities. Outputs will include more than 500 individuals engaged, 250 pledges and 100 new voter registrations, mainly from young people of color in Hartford's Northend.

Everyday Democracy ($50,000)“Expanding Active Civic Engagement in Time of Crisis and Beyond," a collaboration of Everyday Democracy with the Connecticut Civic Health Initiative and the Hartford Votes Coalition includes: This program includes (1)  in-person or online events to promote ongoing civic learning; (2) expanding and training Civic Ambassadors throughout Greater Hartford, recruiting Latinx and African-American residents ages 18-25; (3) virtually convening Hartford Foundation grantees to share and amplify best practices in voter mobilization, including use of Motivote (electronic) platform; and (4) hosting a Civic Summit in the Spring of 2021. Expected outcomes will include 58 new civic ambassadors, 15+ teams on Motivote to multiple voter registration and turn out (40% youth), and greater coordination among Hartford Foundation civic engagement grantees.

Foundation for Educational Opportunities, Inc. ($15,000) - This initiative supports the Soles to the Polls (SttP) strategy by enabling access to transportation.  Bus Stops will be located on city streets so nearby residents and volunteers can get a free ride to their polling location–rain or shine. Four shuttles will depart on the hour beginning at 6:00AM ending at 8:00PM. When the rider boards the shuttle, a volunteer will confirm they are registered and are riding to the correct polling location. An estimated 2,500 residents will get rides.

Hartford Health Initiative, Inc. (HHI) ($40,250) – This program encourages voter participation using bus advertising, lawn signs, and geofenced mobile advertising targeting the Northend of Hartford.  HHI estimates the following outcomes: 1,000,000 impressions (people seeing CT Transit ads) in the Hartford area, 60 percent new and 40 percent repeated views over a four-week period; identify and supply 500 households and businesses throughout the City of Hartford to place a Go Vote lawn sign; and 350,000 cell phone targeted campaign (mobile geofencing) impressions over a four week period. COVID restrictions permitting, the organization proposes to host two community events aiming to engage 200-300 Hartford residents.                                                    

InformCT, Inc. ($30,850) – This project will support organizations working to register and engage voters by providing data, analysis, and technical assistance to inform their work. The goal is to provide historical data on voter engagement and current demographic data by neighborhood (Census tracts) to help organizations target their outreach efforts and increase participation.

The collective projected impact of the recommended grants includes more than 6,000 residents engaged through GOTV activities, 4,000 new voters registered and 5,030 residents pledging to vote. Through Census outreach, organizations expect to engage more than 10,000 residents on the importance of completing the 2020 Census and to assist more than 2,200 in completing the questionnaire.