Seattle Foundation Blog

Seattle Foundation and King County Elections Partner to Fund Community-Based Voter Engagement

Seattle Foundation and King County Elections announce second round of funding to support community-based voter engagement.

June 16, 2016


King County Elections (KCE) and the Seattle Foundation (SeaFdn) have released a second round of funding to support community-based voter engagement. Through this second phase of pilot 2016 voter engagement funding, KCE and SeaFdn are seeking to partner with community groups with bicultural, bilingual expertise and with deep roots among King County’s top-tier limited English speaking communities. Up to $8,000 is available to community-based organizations to support voter education and cultural technical assistance with limited English speaking voters in King County for the 2016 General election. 

Applications are due by 5pm on Monday, July 11th.


In a new government and philanthropic collaboration, King County Elections and Seattle Foundation are partnering to award community-based organizations up to $25,000 each for voter engagement with Chinese, Korean, Latino and Vietnamese communities.

The goals of the project include registering more voters in these communities and helping voters who are already registered receive their ballot in their preferred language. Through this $140,000 pilot project the Department of Elections and Seattle Foundation also hope to learn what works best in reaching limited-English speaking voters, as well as to identify other barriers that they may be facing.

"There shouldn’t be any hurdles to exercising your right to vote,” said Elections Director, Julie Wise. “I’m very excited to be working with Seattle Foundation to make sure that no matter what language someone speaks, they are fully able to participate in the democratic process.”

Currently, King County Elections provides ballots and all other voting-related materials in Chinese and Vietnamese. As a result of legislation sponsored by King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski, and passed by the Council last year, the department will also begin providing materials in Spanish and Korean for this year’s General Election.

"Our goal is to increase convenience and lower barriers to voting. This is a great step forward by King County in improving access," said Councilmember Rod Dembowski.

Analysis of American Community Survey data from 2010 to 2014 estimates the number of limited-English speaking residents in King County as follows:

— About 16,690 or 49% of eligible Chinese-speaking voters speak English less than very well.

— About 13,960 or 60% of eligible Vietnamese-speaking voters speak English less than very well.

— About 10,500 or 21% of eligible Spanish-speaking voters speak English less than very well.

— About 6,480 or 46% of eligible Korean-speaking voters speak English less than very well.

“This collaboration is a powerful example of what can be achieved working in cross-sector collaboration,” said Seattle Foundation CEO, Tony Mestres. “Together with King County Elections and our community partners, we will strengthen civic leadership infrastructure of our most underrepresented communities and promote a more vibrant and authentic democracy.”

Organizations interested in applying for funding can submit their proposal online. An information session is scheduled for Tuesday, May 10 from 11am-1pm at the Chinook Building, 401 Fifth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104, Conference Room 310. The deadline for proposals is May 24, 2016 and awards are expected to be announced in June.

King County Elections also plans to roll-out a program that will provide smaller awards to other limited-English speaking communities later this summer.



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