Foundation, nonprofit leaders join call to protect voting rights

Foundation, nonprofit leaders join call to protect voting rights

More than sixty foundation and nonprofit leaders have joined corporate executives, scholars, and celebrities in signing a statement opposing efforts to restrict voting rights at the state level.

Published concurrently in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and USA Today, the statement declares that "[f]or American democracy to work for any of us, we must ensure the right to vote for all of us," and calls "upon all Americans to join us in taking a nonpartisan stand for this most basic and fundamental right of all Americans." The original signatories to the statement include Ford Foundation president Darren Walker and Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation board vice president Mellody Hobson.

Foundation and nonprofit leaders among the signatories include Joyce Foundation president Ellen Alberding, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation president Elizabeth Alexander, McKnight Foundation president Tonya Allen, California Wellness Foundation president and CEO Judy Belk, Barr Foundation president Jim Canales, Surdna Foundation president Don Chen, Chicago Community Trust president and CEO Helene Gayle, Carnegie Corporation of New York president Vartan Gregorian, Bloomberg Philanthropies CEO Patricia Harris, Rockefeller Brothers Fund president and CEO Stephen Heintz and trustee David Rockefeller, Jr., James Irvine Foundation president Don Howard, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation president Alberto Ibargüen, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation president Larry Kramer, W.K. Kellogg Foundation president and CEO La June Montgomery Tabron, Arcus Foundation founder Jon Stryker and CEO Annette Lanjouw, Robin Hood Foundation CEO Wes Moore, Heinz Endowments president Grant Oliphant, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation president John Palfrey, JPB Foundation president Barbara Picower, Raikes Foundation co-founders Jeff and Tricia Raikes, Kresge Foundation president Rip Rapson, California Endowment president and CEO Robert K. Ross, Schmidt Futures co-founder Eric Schmidt, New York Community Trust president and CEO Lorie Slutsky, Silicon Valley Community Foundation CEO Nicole Taylor, and Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation president Fay D. Twersky.

The more than five hundred signatories to the statement also include Giving Pledge co-founder Warren Buffett and Giving Pledge signatory Arthur M. Blank, as well as the heads of corporations such as Target, Netflix, Bank of America, Facebook, Cisco, Twitter, Microsoft, Starbucks, Amazon, Mastercard, American Airlines, United Airlines, and Vanguard.

According to the Black Economic Alliance (BEA), which coordinated the effort, there are more than three hundred and sixty bills pending in forty-seven state legislatures that contain discriminatory voting measures. While the statement makes no reference to specific states, the statement was spearheaded by former American Express CEO Kenneth I. Chenault and Merck CEO Kenneth C. Frazier, who mounted a similar campaign in March against new voting laws in Georgia.

"[T]hroughout our history, marginalized communities, particularly Black Americans, have been repeatedly denied their fundamental right to participate in our democracy," Walker told the Chronicle of Philanthropy. "And, sadly, this troubling legacy of voter suppression endures today."

David Gelles, Andrew Ross Sorkin. "Hundreds of companies unite to oppose voting limits, but others abstain." New York Times 04/14/2021. Dan Parks, Alex Daniels. "Dozens of philanthropy leaders join statement protesting voting law changes." Chronicle of Philanthropy 04/14/2021. "We Stand for Democracy." nd for Democracy Black Economic Alliance statement 04/14/2021.