Turnout Grants: How Progressive Turnout Project is Helping Grassroots Groups Grow

About Us: Progressive Turnout Project is the largest voter contact organization in the country, specifically dedicated to mobilizing the Democratic Party and defending democracy. Our mission: rally Democrats to vote.

At Progressive Turnout Project, we value tactics that build  connections to encourage participation in elections.. That’s why this election cycle we’ve introduced new programs – Community Mobilizers and Neighborhood Letters –  to harness the power of voter-to-voter conversations.

And now, our new Turnout Grants program will not only expand voter contact, but create and support innovative strategies from  up-and-coming grassroots organizations in 2022. 

“The Turnout Grant program is a way for PTP to connect with other grassroots organizations that are doing voter contact and voter turnout work across the country,” said Emily, our Turnout Grant Manager. 

PTP is providing grants to organizations that are already doing voter contact work, and could use funding to expand their efforts in new and innovative ways. Our early funding for these groups supports the research, testing, and implementation of new ideas to improve voter turnout.

“These organizations are working with voter communities that are underserved in mainstream forms of voter contact work,” Emily said. “Rural voters, LGBTQ voters, Black voters, AAPI voters, Native voters, groups that are often overlooked.”

We recently announced the priority grantees of the 2022 Turnout Grant recipients, our first step towards our commitment to giving up to one million dollars in grassroots funding. The groups in this cohort were selected to receive early funding to launch and test their turnout efforts, an exciting but difficult undertaking.

“We were really shocked at the number of priority applications,” Emily said. “I had set a goal to have 100 applications overall, and we had 150 priority applications.”

The priority selection process focused on identifying organizations that are in the midst of growing or testing innovative voter contact methods.  Organizations can then use our support to  strengthen their impact in the communities that they’re serving. 

“We selected groups that represented the entire experience of being a voter,” Emily said. “Doing pre-registration in high schools and colleges, working to get important community voices talking to voters about the importance of voting, translating voter education resources, anywhere in the voting process that a voter could face a roadblock.”

The groups selected for early funding had some of the highest scores in the areas the selection committee prioritized: clarity, commitment to voter-contact work, innovation, and relationship to PTP’s mission and goals. 

“We also had what I called a personal score, or a gut check score,” Emily said. “So if an organization didn’t have a high score in clarity, but when we were reading the application we felt really connected to their work, we had a way to reward that.” 

The PTP team is still reviewing applications for groups who didn’t make the priority deadline. In the meantime, here are the groups that are helping us kick off the program:

18by Vote
18by Vote is a nonpartisan youth-led organization that aims to help 16, 17, 18-year-olds understand how, when, and why to vote. Founded in 2016, the 18by Vote team is activating hundreds of thousands of young people, like themselves, across the country to engage civically through their peer-to-peer voter registration and education programs. 

Their Turnout Grant will support the expansion of their paid youth Civic Leaders training and Civic Organizer programs in Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Florida. PTP’s investment will triple their relational impact across 18 regions, as fellows carry out innovative voter registration and education work on the ground, connecting with approximately 180,000 youth and new voters. 

Voces de la Frontera Action
Founded in 2004, when Wisconsin Voces members started a 501(c)(4) arm in order to mobilize voters to elect pro-immigrant candidates throughout the state. During the 2020 elections, VDLFA built up one of the largest relational voter programs in the country by recruiting 1,299 Voceros to grow their network of Latinx, immigrant, and multiracial youth voters. 

The Turnout Grant will help scale and test their relational “Super Voceros “ or trained volunteer leaders program throughout Milwaukee and Racine, increasing their voter contact rate from 71% (2020) to 87%. This expansion has already started, with Voceros connecting with their personal voter networks to generate sustained engagement through all four Wisconsin elections this year. 

Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance
Started in 2020, The Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance (API PA) is a 501(c)(4) focused on building long-term power for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Pennsylvania.  API PA coordinates political, electoral, and legislative work to hold elected officials accountable, while engaging in culturally competent and linguistically accessible direct voter contact and builds solidarity with other aligned communities of color across the state.

This Turnout Grant will support the creation and testing of a first-of-its-kind Language Access Center for API PA, committed to making voting accessible by connecting with Pennsylvania voters in over 15 languages. The LAC will translate materials, be a voter contact hotline, and provide vote-by-mail resources, and more.

Shape Up the Vote
Conceived in 2020, Shape Up the Vote is a fiscally sponsored 501(c)(3) that provides opportunities for barbershops and salons to easily participate in relational organizing around elections. As local influencers, barbers and stylists are ideal and trusted messengers to engage their clients as voters – and their businesses are vital places for those conversations to happen.

Their Turnout Grant will expand their successful model used in New York and Virginia in 2021, allowing organizers to scale the program and build relationships with around 5,000 barbers and stylists across Georgia. Funding will also support the development and distribution of outreach kits and data. 

Focus Action Network and Unity in the Community
Focus Action Network was founded in 2020 when co-Founder Julia Chang Frank recognized that Pennsylvania’s election was threatened by poll worker shortages. FAN used relational organizing tactics in all of their campaigns, including nonpartisan work for the Georgia Senate Runoffs in early 2021 and advocacy for the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. 

Anton Moore started Unity in the Community in 2009, in response to gun violence and high poverty rates in his community of South Philadelphia. During election season, Unity in the Community makes voting fun, with celebratory events such as DJs at the ballot box and polling locations, GOTV caravans, and a GOTV block party.

The Turnout Grant funds will go to both organizations to make possible a new “Super Connector”program they’re partnering on in Philadelphia. This scaled-up relational organizing program will include a controlled scientific test to assess their impact. Unity in the Community will hire and train 150 “super connectors” to each contact a minimum of 100 voters, supporting these individuals as they complete voter registration, vote by mail, and GOTV engagement. 

You can help us rally Democrats to vote today by volunteering, working with us, or contributing to support our efforts.