The Cleveland-based George Gund Foundation has announced several grants aimed at fostering participation in American democracy by historically underrepresented populations.
In its final round of grantmaking for the year, the foundation awarded grants to organizations at the national, state, and local levels working to achieve racial and socioeconomic parity in voter registration and voting and help citizens exercise their right to weigh in on policy and budget decisions that affect their families and communities. The grants are among several the foundation has awarded in 2017 with the aim of building a more vigorous social sector voice in public policy deliberations ranging from clean energy to health care.
The grants include an award of $800,000 over three years to the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio in support of Ohio Voice, a statewide coalition of nonprofit organizations working to boost the collective influence of its members and the constituencies they serve through nonpartisan civic engagement activities such as voter registration, voting rights protection, and related public policy advocacy; $200,000 over two years to Voting America in support of a five-year effort to increase civic participation among historically marginalized populations through nonpartisan, large-scale voter registration initiatives; and $360,000 over three years to Cleveland Neighborhood Progress in support of Cleveland VOTES, a local voter engagement project that works to address low voter turnout and civic participation among historically disenfranchised populations.
"American democracy faces both domestic and foreign threats," said Gund Foundation executive director David Abbott. "The best defense is active citizen involvement, but as recent election turnout demonstrates, too many people opt out while others are kept out by restrictions that make voting harder than it should be. These organizations are fighting to reverse voting trends and to increase broader civic engagement. We are very happy to help them."