In the wake of persistent state sanctioned violence against Black bodies and repeated devaluing of Black lives by our judicial system, I wanted to take a moment to choose joy as an act of resistance in sharing some of the inspiring and heroic work of national and local grassroots organizations that are mobilizing Black and Brown communities during this election cycle. I am incredibly proud of the work our staff and our partner organizations have been leading to ensure better futures for us all.
Funding Black & Brown Leaders and Organizations
Given what is at stake for communities of color in this election, one of our top priorities in our 100 Days of Action for Racial Justice campaign was to mobilize Black and Brown communities and support civic engagement efforts across the country.
Along with colleagues, I spent the first few weeks in my new role as Chief of Staff & Learning for Kapor Center leading efforts to identify national civil rights and local grassroots organizations focused on voter education and engagement, voter and election protection, and building political power within Black and Brown communities.
We selected 27 recipients, providing $1 million in grant funding prioritizing organizations with a track record of engaging Black and Brown voters across the country and local regions where the Kapor Center organizations operate programs.
Our funding efforts specifically prioritized organizations run by Black and Brown leaders because we believe that systemic change efforts happen at the leadership level and we applaud organizations that lead by example in shifting traditional power structures that have held back progress in the liberation of our communities.
Our partners are doing some truly amazing work on the ground. Here are a few snapshots of their incredible efforts to increase civic participation:
- NAACP/GSSA 2020 Civic Engagement Program’s volunteer recruitment program has had more than 180,000 volunteers sign up to reach out to Black voters and has current GOTV efforts underway (digital, radio, TV) to reach 12 million Black voters across 12 states.
- On National Early Voting Day (10/24), several of our partners worked in collaboration with Elect Justice and Tidal to host a live event in Los Angeles to provide ballot drop-off, music, PPE and food giveaways, and a livestream screened at events in Baton Rouge, LA; Birmingham, AL; Atlanta, GA; Charlotte, NC; Cleveland, OH; Columbia, SC; Detroit, MI; Houston, TX, Jackson, MS; Jacksonville, FL; Pensacola, FL and Philadelphia, PA.
- Black Voters Matter is doing a huge Early Vote Rally around the country with their We Got the Power bus tour going through 12 states in 40 days.
- Poder Latinx has released their 2020 election comic, La Borinqueña as part of their ‘Votar es Poder’ awareness and action campaign to inform, educate, and activate the Puerto Rican and Latinx community. Univision, the largest Spanish-language network in the US, will air the public service announcements in all its on-air and digital platforms, making it possible to reach millions of Latinx voters. Marisol Rios de la Luz is an original character who represents a first-generation Puerto Rican living in New York, whose superpowers are drawn from history and mysticism on the island.
- Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law continues to fight increasing voter suppression and has a live hotline to call for election protection that offers free legal advice (866-OUR-VOTE).
Here are some additional upcoming events that we invite you to join:
- OCT 26: The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation is hosting a Zoom with Oprah. The Black Millennial Convention is holding Movement Mondays Facebook Live conversations to try to reach Black millennials who make up 25% of the Black population.
- OCT 27: NAACP invites you to volunteer with Black Voices Change Lives to mobilize and protect voters: Register here
- OCT 28: Hispanic Federation from 10:00AM — 6:00PM EST, is hosting a Voter Protection Text Bank: Register here
- OCT 29: Voto Latino 12:00–5:00PM EST is hosting a texting event — el Early Vote + Game Night with VL’s Texting Team: Register here
We know that these are just a few highlights of many more incredible stories going on in the field but we hope that they motivate you to keep pushing forward these last 8 days.
Targeted Action Matters
Our grantee partners across the country are doing inspiring work. But our efforts do not stop there. We launched our #SMASHtheVote campaign which is encouraging our staff and scholars to become campaign captains and recruit a squad of 20 others to join them in daily actions to increase civic engagement leading up to election day. Additionally, we have collaborated with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters to use our Kapor facilities at 1901 Poplar Street in West Oakland as a polling location.
And yet, that is not enough. All three Kapor organizations (SMASH, Kapor Capital and Kapor Center) have committed to providing all employees paid time off on November 3. 22 of Kapor Capital’s portfolio companies have also pledged to provide VTO for their employees. We ask that wherever you work, that you will join us in providing paid time off for your employees on November 3.
We acknowledge that one day is hardly adequate given the depth and breadth this movement is calling for. We encourage you to make space in policy and practice to have your employees volunteer in the remaining 8 days to come. Projects can wait but systemic change in the name of Black and Brown people cannot.
We will continue to ramp up our 100 Days of Action for Racial Justice Campaign by amplifying our organization-wide movement to encourage staff and community action to mobilize getting out the vote, particularly at our SMASH university partner locations in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.
A Final Call To Action
Today, with only 8 days remaining until the biggest election of our lifetimes, we call on others to make this moment an entire movement to fund grassroots organizations, mobilize voters across the country, register new voters, educate yourself and others by making a voting plan, and VOTE.
While we are currently protecting ourselves from the toxic fires of racism, we are also aiming to transform the tech economy into a driving force for social and racial justice. This shift will require a herculean effort on behalf of all of us and we know the fight for racial justice won’t end on November 3rd, but it is up to all of us to join the fight if we are committed to the change that Black and Brown communities need.
Activate your networks, familia, colleagues, and friends, to ensure our voices are heard and that this election day we can make progress towards creating a country where our Black and Brown babies can survive and thrive.
We are brilliant, creative and full of joy and together, we can change the trajectory of our futures.
Note: Please find the full list of our grantees here. We would like to give a special shout out to the Full Circle Strategy Group and Movement Voter Project in particular for their great work in helping us identify and select organizations meeting our strategic grantmaking priorities, and to Mitch Kapor and Freada Kapor Klein for their generous and unwavering support of voter mobilization efforts. In addition to providing thoughtful leadership, they each continually inspire us to all be better versions of ourselves.