Works with college and university administrators to help them engage students in the election. We worked with 750 campuses in 2012.
How do we engage America’s 20 million students in key elections? Campus Election Engagement Project empowers 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, helping them use their positions 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 the kinds of obstacles to voting that have now gotten far more pervasive.
No other group is organizing college administrators, faculty and staff to get students involved, yet unless they are engaged through direct conversations, they tend to do little. Their lack of a coordinated effort contributed significantly to 2010’s four million-student electoral drop-off. But they can play a crucial role in engaging their campuses, implementing powerful approaches that no one else can implement. They can distribute templates for student IDs that pass the requirements of all the new laws; register new students at first-year orientation; broadcast voter registration and election information links via QR codes on the Jumbotron at football games; include links to Rock the Vote’s registration tool in online course registration systems; have IT departments distribute a new election information Smartphone app; and encourage “dorm storms,” where student orgnaizations register their peers in the dorms.
We did all of these and more in 2012, 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%. We're working with all of our states to prepare for 2014, and running a Virginia pilot project addressing the 2013 statewide races, where 2009 youth turnout was 17%.
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 key election protection groups, 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 three years without pay to help make it happen.
But we still have to fund our core infrastructure—the organizers in our targeted Virginia pilot project and the national staffers who are continuing to work with states like Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin and North Carolina in preparation for 2014. We’re seeking to raise $185,000 for 2013 to help students participate and $300,000 for 2014. We’ve raised $95,000 so far this year, but are hitting the limits of our networks. 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