The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation announced today it is giving $10 million in grants to a dozen civil and voting rights advocacy groups.
Each of the 12 groups is working to ensure eligible Americans can vote and participate in the democratic process, with a focus on Georgia and the Southeast.
The money is the first of a set of grants from the foundation’s Democracy portfolio. In addition to democracy, the foundation is focusing on the environment and youth development.
“We believe the right to vote is sacred and must be protected,” Chairman Arthur Blank said in a statement. “Our democracy is made stronger when we hear from all Americans on the issues of our day whether they be national or local. This must happen more often than the presidential election cycle.”
The two-year grants will be used by the organizations to hire more staff, create new programs, and expand existing ones throughout the state.
“There is no off-season for democracy,” Blank Foundation President Fay Twersky told Atlanta Civic Circle, which also has received funding from the Blank Foundation. “In between elections, these organizations have a lot of work to still do.”
The money comes at a crucial time. The country is grappling with political polarization and dissatisfaction, and people are looking for ways to get more involved in their communities and fix the political process.
“We are so privileged to live in the United States of America in a very vibrant democracy,” Twersky said. “But we do know that more than half of Americans are dissatisfied with the state of our democracy. Our democracy is in trouble. The Blank family and our board feel strongly that this is a moment where we want to strengthen our democracy, strengthen our civic participation, and strengthen access to voting. That is vital for America to really fully achieve the ideals of this country.”
While the grants will help the organizations do more, they will also enable the Blank Foundation to gauge the best investments and long-term strategies that make voting easier and get people more involved in their communities.
“We hope to learn a lot with these grantee partners about what it takes to really strengthen our democracy,” Twersky said. “We’re going to learn a lot during the course of the next two years, and we’ll be developing a strategy for our whole Democracy program over that time, too.”
The Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials plans to use its $450,000 grant to expand its voter engagement and community organizing work from four counties to 10. The money also will be used to continue GALEO’s leadership development program and revive its leadership summit, which was put on hold due to the pandemic.
“For our organization, it really means a lot,” GALEO CEO Jerry Gonzalez told Atlanta Civic Circle. “We’re grateful for the commitment that the Arthur Blank Family Foundation has demonstrated by funding in the democracy space. It’s vitally needed, particularly here in Georgia.”
The Blank Foundation has awarded more than $800 million in grants over the past 25 years and has committed to significantly accelerating the impact of its philanthropy over the next decade. Arthur Blank is a co-founder of The Home Depot. He currently owns the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United, the PGA Tour Superstore, and Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz stadium.
The two-year grants were awarded to the following organizations:
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta: The first and only nonprofit working to protect the civil rights of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in Georgia and the Southeast. Amount: $550,000.
- ACLU Foundation of Georgia : Defends the civil liberties and rights of Georgians via legal action, civic education, and engagement. Amount: $550,000.
- Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute: Its mission is to get more people civically engaged and build power in predominantly black communities. Amount: $1.5 million.
- Brennan Center for Justice: Based at NYU Law School, the center is a nonpartisan law and policy organization working to strengthen democracy, end mass incarceration, and protect liberty and security. Amount: $500,000.
- Center for Election Innovation & Research: Works with secretaries of state nationwide to improve voter trust and confidence, increase voter participation, and improve the efficiency of election administration. Amount: $250,000.
- Common Cause Education Fund: Supports national, state, and local efforts to strengthen democracy through research, public education, coalition building, and litigation. Amount: $300,000.
- Fair Count: Works to build lasting power in communities that have been undercounted in the census, underrepresented at the polls, and, are often, torn apart by redistricting. Amount: $650,000.
- GALEO Latino Community Development Fund: Works to increase civic engagement and leadership of Latino communities in Georgia. Amount: $450,000.
- Georgia Alliance for Progress Education Fund: This group is the fiscal sponsor of the Black Male Voter Project Education Fund, which works to increase the number of civically -engaged Black men in Georgia. Amount: $250,000.
- NEO Philanthropy State Infrastructure Fund: Home to The State Infrastructure Fund, – a donor collaborative working to increase civic participation and voting rights for people of color and underrepresented communities. Amount: $1 million.
- New Georgia Project: Its mission is to register all eligible people of color in Georgia and increase their participation in elections. Amount: $1.9 million.
- ProGeorgia: Supports and coordinates 40 civic partner organizations statewide by developing strategies to create a more responsive government to diverse constituencies in Georgia. Amount: $2 million.
The Atlanta Civic Circle has received funding from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation to support our nonprofit newsroom.