NAACP fund seeks to close Black voter registration and turnout gaps

Black Men Vote NAACP
Philadelphia City Councilmember Isaiah Thomas holds up a Black Men Vote campaign card Tuesday, Feb. 27.
Jack Tomczuk / Metro File Photo

By AYANNA ALEXANDER Associated Press

The NAACP on Wednesday announced that nonprofits engaged in a variety of voter-engagement efforts can apply for grant funding that helps local organizations register voters, boost turnout and guard against minority disenfranchisement.

The leading civil rights organization said it hopes to raise $15 million for its Building Community Voice Fund. Dominik Whitehead, the NAACP’s vice president of campaigns, said it was created as a response to numerous attacks on voting rights that followed a significant jump in Black voter turnout during the 2020 presidential election.

“We know that this election cycle is really crucial and it’s on the backs of every Black voter,” he said.

Money from the fund is intended to focus primarily on voter outreach efforts related to local elections, such as those for school board, city council, sheriff and district attorney, as well as local ballot measures.

It was launched in 2022 to help boost voter outreach efforts related to the district attorney’s race in Shelby County, Tennessee, which includes Memphis and is more than 50% Black. The previous district attorney had a track record for disproportionately charging minority youth, Whitehead said.

The fund expanded in the two years since and now provides money to groups in 18 states, including Florida, Texas and the presidential swing states of Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania. Within those states, there are also a number of eligible counties that will be considered, most of which have a significant percentage of Black voters.

Whitehead said the NAACP chose the states and localities to fund through an analysis that identified registration gaps for Black voters and places where Black voter turnout could be increased. He said the organization is halfway toward meeting its fundraising goal and nonprofits can apply for the money through June.