The Minneapolis Foundation Awards More Than $250,000 in Voter Engagement Grants

Funding will support 14 nonprofit organizations serving communities with historically low turnout

With excitement growing about the 2017 race for Minneapolis mayor (not to mention all city council and park board seats), grassroots organizers and volunteers across the city are gearing up to ensure that all voters know the issues and the candidates, are familiar with ranked-choice voting, and cast their ballots this fall.

The Minneapolis Foundation is supporting these efforts with more than $250,000 in grants to increase voter engagement, especially in communities with historically low turnout.

These grants will support nonpartisan get-out-the vote efforts focusing on residents in communities that are often underrepresented. All 14 of the nonprofit organizations receiving grants have deep community connections, with networks and relationships that extend far beyond the election cycle. The constituents they serve live in North and South Minneapolis and include students, people living in low-income neighborhoods, immigrants, LGBTQ residents, residents of color and American Indians, and the homeless.

Voter turnout in municipal elections is typically far lower than it is during presidential elections. For example, at its municipal election in 2013, the City of Minneapolis reported that 33 percent of registered voters turned out to vote, compared to 79 percent in last year’s presidential election. Further, voter turnout varies by 10 to 20 percentage points or more in wards across the city.

These grants reflect The Minneapolis Foundation’s commitment to civic engagement as a strategy to address systemic challenges. “Healthy communities depend on engaged, active residents who speak up on issues that matter to them, and voting is a common entry point for civic participation,” said Catherine Gray, the Foundation’s Director of Impact Strategy for Civic Engagement. Not including this year’s grants, The Minneapolis Foundation has awarded a total of $918,000 in voter engagement grants to 26 organizations since 2013.

Grants awarded this spring, which total $256,742, will support a range of nonpartisan activities, including candidate forums, voter registration and pledge drives, phone banking, and educational outreach about ranked-choice voting. To maximize their impact in the community, grant recipients will work together as a cohort led by Minnesota Voice, a nonprofit with expertise in data collection, get-out-the-vote work and integrated voter engagement strategies. Minnesota Voice is part of a national network working toward social, racial, and economic justice by increasing civic engagement and voter participation.

Here’s the complete list of this year’s voter engagement grant recipients:

  • The Anika Foundation
  • OutFront Minnesota
  • Isuroon
  • Harrison Neighborhood Association
  • Lao Assistance Center
  • Lyndale Neighborhood Association
  • Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG)
  • Native American Community Development Institute
  • Open Access Connections
  • Pillsbury United Communities
  • Somali Action Alliance
  • Urban Homeworks
  • Voices for Racial Justice