New Program Aims to Increase Voter Turnout Among Community College Students

Participating community colleges will compete to earn a fully funded concert to be hosted on campus.
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Published on May 17, 2024
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  • The Community College Commitment is a partnership between nonprofit organizations and well-known brands.
  • Community college students have a lower voter participation rate than four-year university students.
  • The goal of the initiative is to add 500,000 new community college student voters by 2028.
  • Community colleges can compete in a concert competition to promote voter registration.

A coalition of nonprofit organizations and well-known brands are partnering to increase voter turnout among community college students.

The Community College Commitment is a new initiative that aims to bring community college voter participation more in line with that of four-year university students. Two-year institutions can apply for grants to use on voter registration and get-out-the-vote initiatives, and one school may win a concert headlined by a yet-to-be-announced musician.

Community College Commitment includes support from a handful of for-profit companies:

  • Levi Strauss & Co.
  • Lyft
  • Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios

Those companies are partnering with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and the Students Learn Students Vote Coalition.

Community college students voted at a rate 10 percentage points lower than their counterparts at four-year colleges and universities, according to data from Tufts University's National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement. Students from both private and public four-year institutions voted at a higher rate in 2020 than students from community colleges.

We are proud to provide resources to colleges to encourage active participation in get-out-the-vote efforts but know that community colleges can benefit from targeted programs aimed at increasing voter registration and participation, AACC President and CEO Walter Bumphus said in a statement.

The goal is to add 500,000 new community college student voters by 2028, AACC said.

Community colleges can apply for grants before National Voter Registration Day on Sept. 17. AACC encourages institutions to use funds to promote National Voter Registration Day, and colleges must promise to host at least one community event to encourage voter registration.

Grants will only go to accredited institutions.

Grants can range from $1,000-$5,000, according to AACC. Schools can apply for grants until the end of May and should learn whether they will receive funding by June 13.

Additionally, community colleges can enter the Community College Concert Competition. This competition is available to schools that host a registration drive and at least one other voting-related event. The winning institution will host a fully funded concert on Vote Early Day — Oct. 29 — that will feature a well-known, surprise music artist to be announced in the coming months.

Colleges have until Sept. 20 to enter this contest.

College student voting, and youth voting in general, has become an important part of the election puzzle in recent years. Tufts University calculated a 50% voter turnout rate among people under 30 in 2020, up from 39% in 2016.