Voter Education Fund Invests Nearly $1 Million in Historically Excluded Communities

Seattle Foundation and King County Elections (KCE) announce the recipients of $990,000 in grants for voter engagement and education work in historically excluded and underrepresented communities. A total of 30 organizations were selected out of 62 applicants for the Voter Education Fund’s next two-year cycle.

In its fifth year, the Voter Education Fund, a partnership between Seattle Foundation and King County Elections, has supported grantees in reaching nearly a million voters with educational information, registering 17,550 people to vote, and holding over 5,400 community events centered on participating in our democracy.

This year, Seattle Foundation and King County Elections were able to fully fund a majority of thirty selected proposals across geographies in King County and are pleased to continue our two-year funding commitment for 2021 and 2022 to build longer term civic engagement and voter participation. Organizations applied in early April in response to our 2021-2022 Request for Proposal.

We prioritized grants to organizations that work to reduce inequities in voting access in historically excluded communities who have faced systemic racism, been targets of voter suppression, and faced increased barriers to participation. Our focus communities include, but are not limited to Black, Indigenous, and people of color, people experiencing homelessness, people formerly convicted of a felony, limited-English speaking communities, people with disabilities, and young voters.

Partnering with King County Elections to administer the Fund enables Seattle Foundation to leverage resources, relationships, and technical expertise to better serve our community members and utilize a cross-sector approach to promoting greater voter registration and education.

“The Voter Education Fund is one of the programs that I am the proudest of at King County Elections. I fundamentally believe that our democracy is better when all voices are heard. Democracy is a work in progress and it’s up to us – election administrators and community alike – to step up and work to create space for those who have been silenced or left behind by the process.

Julie Wise, King County Director of Elections

Grantees are provided with funding for two years as well as training and support to build their capacity and infrastructure around voter registration, education, and get-out-the-vote work in the community that they serve. 

Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA) is one of the several returning Voter Education Fund partners. ReWA provides services to refugee and immigrant women and families to help them thrive.

“ReWA is thrilled to be a part of this cycle’s Voter Education Fund cohort and we look forward to continuing to build on our voter education and engagement work. One of the many services that we provide is helping women and families through the immigration process to become U.S. citizens. The next step after citizenship is participating in our democracy through voting. We’re proud to help our communities access and exercise their right to vote and use their voices to speak for themselves and their community.”

Mahnaz Eshetu, Executive Director of ReWA

There are also many groups new to the Voter Education Fund this cycle, including the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle. Located in Seattle’s Central District, the Urban League focuses on empowering Black communities and others who have been marginalized so they can thrive.

“Even though we are new to the Voter Education Fund, the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle has a long history of voter education and empowerment. We are excited to join the Voter Education Fund to make sure that Black, Brown and vulnerable populations such as previously incarcerated and first-time voters in King County are able to cast their vote and make their voices heard.”

Michelle Merriweather, President & CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle

Grants are awarded only to 501(c)3 organizations committed to non-partisan voter registration and education work in King County. Organizations receiving funding will attend a kickoff training with King County Elections during the month of June and will begin Voter Education Fund events in earnest in July 2021. Funds awarded will support these organizations through the 2021 and 2022 elections.

2021-2022 Voter Education Fund Grantees