Helps college administrators & student leaders engage students in 21 states in 2014 election. Worked with 750 campuses in 2012
How do we engage America’s 20 million students in key elections? Campus Election Engagement Project is working in 21 states to empower America's colleges and universities to help their students register, volunteer in campaigns, educate themselves, and turn out at the polls. This nonpartisan and tax deductible project has a huge multiplier effect for the resources invested, because it works through administrators, faculty and staff with salaries already paid for by their schools, plus student leaders, helping them use their key positions and resources to engage their students.
In 2012 we reached 26 states and 750 campuses enrolling 5.5 million students. Working through academic networks that the schools knew and trusted, we distributed powerful ways to get their students involved, then followed up by phone to ensure the schools implemented them. This personal outreach yielded wonderful results, including addressing increasing obstacles to voting.
No other group is organizing in this way, yet unless key people on campus they are engaged through direct conversations, they tend to do little. The lack of coordinated campus efforts contributed significantly to four out of five students staying home in 2010. But we can reverse this: In our 2013 Virginia pilot project we almost doubled the student vote in key student precincts on the campuses we engaged.
We help our contacts distribute summaries of voting rules and guidance on student IDs that meet the new laws. We help them register new voters at classroom registration and first-year orientation; broadcast voter registration and election information links via QR codes on football game Jumbotron; have IT departments distribute a new election information Smartphone app; and encourage “dorm storms,” where student orgnaizations register their peers in the dorms. One of our star 2013 schools, Virginia Commonwealth University, partnered with a nearby public housing project, helping their residents register, restore their voting rights if they were felons, and get rides to the polls--turnout increased 89%.
We pursued all of these approaches and more in 2012 and 2013, working through the trusted networks of the prime higher education service learning network Campus Compact. We're now addressing key off-year elections, where student electoral participation traditionally plummets. Between 2008 and 2010 student participation in Ohio dropped from 70% to 22%, in Florida from 61% to 19%, in Wisconsin from 66% to 19%.
For every additional $1,000 we raise we can stipend a student organizer on another key campus. We’re collaborating closely with Rock the Vote, the student PIRGS, the League of Women Voters, and other national higher education organizations. We’re working with election law specialists like Fair Elections Legal Network to steer our schools through the new voting rules. As our partners consistently stress, no other project is in a comparable position to engage the people who run the campuses, so our outreach will increase their effectiveness too.
Campus Election Engagement Project emerged from Paul Loeb's citizen engagement books, such as Soul of a Citizen, The Impossible Will Take a Little While, and Generation at the Crossroads—books with over 250,000 copies in print—and from lectures at over 400 colleges. Engaging students in the election is so important that Loeb's invested nearly four years without pay to help make it happen.
But we still have to fund our state and campus organizers. We still want to give out the mini-grants that inspired so much creativity in 2008 and 2012. So please give whatever you can and publicize this fundraiser. If you or anyone you know is in a position to give $500 or more, please email and we'll send more info on all that we're doing.
Paul Loeb, founder, Campus Election Engagement Project, firstname.lastname@example.org