The Unstoppable Voters Project
The Center for Artistic Activism’s Unstoppable Voters Project will fund campaigns addressing major voter suppression problems such as:
- Lack of poll workers. Historically, poll workers are retirees, a population now at higher risk for COVID infection. Lack of workers results in long lines.
- Barriers to voting by mail. Lack of education on the logistics of voting during COVID as well as misinformation, disinformation that can depress voting.
- Outright voter suppression tactics, especially targeting communities of color and other underrepresented groups. Removing populations from voter rolls, rejected absentee applications, and closing polling locations.
- Preparing people for what happens after voting. Polling indicates half the country may not trust the election outcome for various reasons. Lawsuits, challenges, contested elections, and lots of tension are expected.
Of course, those who benefit from voter suppression want to keep these challenges in place. To combat them, The Unstoppable Voters Project will support artistic and creative projects that aim to:
- Keep polling places staffed and open.
- Ensure that people understand how to effectively vote by mail, drop-off, or in person.
- Empower people to confidently vote down-ballot in local elections
- Ensure that people know that voting is relevant to the issues that motivated so many people on the streets in the past months (and years)
- Monitor election boards and hold them accountable, so they can’t, for example, quietly close polls in communities of color.
- Cultivate engagement, fun, humor, joy, and community around voting and elections.
- Prepare people for the unknowns that will come after November.
The focus of proposals should be on states with a history of voter suppression and which are of special interest in this election, including Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin.
Amazing and accomplished groups are working in these areas. We invite you to utilize, build upon, and support their efforts within your proposal.
866-Our-Vote is a coalition providing solid voter education in the face of mis- and disinformation. This resource could use amplification.
Black Voices Change Lives, the NAACP organized effort to help get black people to the polls
VoteSave America has some good resources, especially about poll workers.
Fair Fight tracks voter intimidation, ensures ballot access, voter counting, and registration.
The ACLU’s Voter Suppression infographics summarize the complexity of these issues.
Alliance for Youth Action is engaging the (all important) youth vote in key states.
Power to the Polls focuses on pollworker recruitment and amplification of the recruiting effort.
These groups could use help getting their critical messages to people in creative ways.
For example, Power to the Polls is going to start online briefings for people who want to become poll workers, and are interested in ways to make those briefings more entertaining.
Dedicated voter rights organizations have experience and expertise in the field. Your proposal should not duplicate their efforts. Instead aim to support or augment their strategies using artistic activism methods that may be outside their scope or seem to risky given where these established organizations have committed their resources.
The Center for Artistic Activism has connections to some of these groups. If your project intersects with their goals, we may be able to connect you with them. However, as these groups are working close to capacity plan your project to be successful independently.
We’re accepting initial letters of interest until Sept 2nd at 11:59pm EDT. These are brief sketches of your idea – so don’t worry if you haven’t worked out all the details yet – we know this is a quick turnaround!
By around Sept 6th, we’ll let you know if you’re a finalist, and we’ll ask some more specific questions and help to flesh some things out with you.
Final decisions on the The Unstoppable Voters Project should be made by Sept 10th, and projects should be starting by Sept 12th.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: By what criteria will you be judging Unstoppable Voters Project proposals?
- Are you building upon the existing work of voter rights groups, adding something creative, innovative, and useful?
- Is it risk-taking, innovative, and creative?
- Is it likely to have an impact on voter suppression?
- Does it do more than “raise awareness,” meaning, the project has strong potential to change people’s behavior?
- Does it align with real needs in communities most impacted by voter suppression?
- Does it empower and create community? Does it welcome people to participate?
- Can it be repeated and amplified by other grass-roots groups?
- Is it risk-taking, ambitious, innovative, creative? Is it funny, weird or borderline impossible?
- AND, is it actually possible, in the timeframe and budget?
Question: My project is about increasing voter turnout but not specifically combating voter suppression. Does it qualify?
There’s definitely some overlap between those things, but this support is focused on combating voter suppression especially where marginalized people are presented with barriers to voting. The goal is to increase voter turnout overall, but the focus is on places where voter suppression is a problem. For more on this, see ACLU or FairFight.
Question: Will Center for Artistic Activism staff be helping me manage and realize this proposal?
No, design a project you will manage. Center for Artistic Activism will distribute grants and coordinate some of the communications between grantees and organizations, but this will be your project which you are responsible for. We’re happy to consult and advise when and where we can.
Question: What if I don’t live in a swing state or a state with critical voter suppression problems?
If you don’t live in a key state, you can still come up with a project idea. In your proposal consider partnering with other artists and activists living in those states, or include budget in your project for local organizers, or connect with voting groups working in those states, or find a way your project can operate remotely in some way.
Can my project advocate for a particular candidate or party?
No. That is not the focus of this project. Also, we are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and any grants we distribute absolutely may not advocate for a candidate or a bill.
Please be brief. Around 1.5 to 2 pages please. You can alternatively submit your answers with a video, no longer than 4 minutes. Answer all these prompts if you can. (We understand this is a tight timeline and we’re just looking for the most promising ideas. Not having an answer to all of these will NOT disqualify you).
- Describe the project and give it a name.
- Which of the above listed objectives are you aiming for, and how does this project move closer to them?
- Where will it take place?
- How can you connect with local community groups working on voting issues? How can you align with or have connection to a local or national voting rights organization or other group that is advocating for the same things?
- How is the project open and participatory?
- Can it be repeated and amplified by other grassroots groups?
- How is it risk-taking, ambitious, innovative, creative?
- What help or input do you need before you get started?
- Describe what would happen if the project is wildy successful. What will come next?
- Would you be willing to merge with or collaborate with another project or group working on similar aims or methods?
- Roughly how much money will you need to pull it off? Average support will be between $3,000 and $10,000. What kinds of things will you need to spend on? (We believe strongly in compensating people’s time). You can break it down into $500 and $1000 chunks.
- Your name and email.
Send your answers in a text document (PDF is great) or a video to firstname.lastname@example.org before Sept 2nd at 11:59pm EDT. You can include sketches or a mockup of your project if you’d like.
If you have questions, let us know.