Day 1: How the Every Voice, Every Vote Coalition is catalyzing civic engagement ahead of the most significant election in Philadelphia’s recent history
3:18PM Jun 20, 2023
Okay, so continue our election theme. Next up, we have our largest panel of the summit. But that's appropriate because they're represented Philly. Every voice every vote and Philadelphia please come up to the stage unmooring Ali Vanier, Angelique Hinton and Ashanti Martin will have to reorganize chairs a little bit here. So I'm I need some help with that.
All right. Great. Well, thank you so much. And I'm glad to be here. My name is Shawn Mooring. I'm the head of Philadelphia programs at the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. And just really excited to have an opportunity to talk to you a little bit about our every voice, every vote initiative, which is a city wide movement of media and community partners, that came together to really help us to look at how we inform and catalyze civic engagement ahead of our 2023 municipal election, which will, in November allow us to elect our 100th mayor. So again, my name is Shawn mooring, my colleague, Allie Vanyur who is our program manager, and also slide advancer, extraordinaire, as well as a shanty Martin with Wu rd radio in Philadelphia and Angelique Hilton Hinton, I'm sorry, who are both community media and community partners. What of of the 80 Plus partners that are a part of every voice every vote.
and community forums that we held throughout that process as well. So I'm gonna turn it over to ya and we'll talk more about all those bubbles.
So first, a bit about the management of this project so
the Every Voice, Every Vote is a project of the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. Our mission is to support local journalism through a focus on diversified revenue streams, digital products and equity and representation. And supporting Philadelphia's news media ecosystem is core to our work and we see every voice every vote as an extension of that portfolio, which Shawn leads. But it's also important to understand what our our role is and is not in this project. We are not a newsroom. Instead, we used our leveraged our role within the ecosystem to cast a wide net and convene media partners and community organizations, find creative collaborations, coordinate a city wide messaging campaign, and also serve as a project manager and kind of switchboard operator of this multifaceted project. We did provide some financial support ourselves to this initiative, but our main funder was the William Penn Foundation, which is a family run foundation in Philadelphia that supports the city's civic life. Notably, they are not primarily a journalism funder. We did also receive support from journalism funders like the knight Lenfest fund, the Knight Foundation, and Philadelphia, Comcast and various individual donors as well.
So at the heart of this initiative is our partners which we'll hear from two of them a little bit later. It is a EBV is a collaborative journalism initiative. But we knew from the very beginning that only engaging media partners wouldn't be enough to truly deeply engage all of Philadelphia's diverse communities. So we put out an open call for proposals from media organizations of all types and community center, nonprofit organizations in Philadelphia, to submit proposals for election related activity activities. So we had a specific focus that you see here on a few key areas, but we really left it wide open to them to surface up their ideas. So that included solutions journalism focused on the key issues that matter to Philadelphians service journalism around local government and electoral processes, translation and multilingual multilingual products, excuse me, public forums, a lot of public forums and community events that engage both communities and candidates in a dialogue as well as elections project products, such as texting services, and voter guides, and nonpartisan civics education activities. So ultimately, we distributed just over $1.5 million dollars through 63 grants, to 26 media organizations, and 36 community 37 community organizations, those partners collectively either produced or will produce because we're in the middle of this right now, more than 70 forums and community events, and 20 voter guides. So some of those served specific communities like immigrants and returning citizens. Some of them serve specific neighborhoods, and others focused on certain topic areas such as education and climate. Those projects will ultimately reach every single neighborhood in Philadelphia, engage the top 13 most spoken languages in the region. And just serve Philadelphia's diverse racial, ethnic and affinity groups. So this is small, but this is our full list of media partners. And as you can see here, there's a really wide range, some of which have spoken earlier today or will speak later today. They include large organizations like why, why and The Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as ethnic media outlets like fun Times Magazine, and new mainstream press, neighborhoods, specific outlets like the Kensington voice. And we also engage all four of the major broadcast partners six ABC, FOX 29, CBS three and NBC 10.
And here's our community partners of which are even smaller, but they similarly reflect the diversity of Philadelphia. So they include CDCs, and neighborhood associations, organizations that serve vulnerable populations like Project Home, city wide organizations that tackle major issues such as gun violence, and anchor institutions like the committee of 70 that produced nonpartisan voter education materials. So I am now pleased to hand it over to one of our community partners, Angelica going to tell us about pa youth vote.
Hi, everyone. My name is Angelique Hinton, I am the executive director of one of the community partners, Pau fote, I have the privilege of working with young people in Pennsylvania, but for this project, specifically in Philadelphia, and what we do was work every day to make sure that they are civically engaged. I don't know how much you really understand what's going on as far as schools are concerned. But there's a lot of inequity when it comes to school funding. And as a result of that many schools, like the ones we focus on, which are in bipoc, underfunded, school districts are not getting civics, right. And so we often hear in the media youth are apathetic or use don't turn out. But the reality is, they're not really being taught how government works, and why they should be participating how it is relevant to their day to day lives. And so we do that work every day, we work with young people to make sure they're civically engaged. Their voting have resources. And they also understand how to use their voices constructively to hold leaders accountable, and to advocate for changes they want to see. And so I was thrilled that we were able to participate in this project, because we are a very grassroots organization, a smaller nonprofit. And so I believe collaboration is going to save this nation. And so being able to participate, gave us an opportunity to really reach more young people than we could on our own. And so we do a lot of collaborative work, you know, just all the time, but this expanded our ability. And so through this partnership, we were able to do multiple, great events, create more resources than we ordinarily could. And so I have some examples that I'll just kind of run through. Because I think, you know, sometimes kind of understanding how all of this actually, you know, plays out, is really important. And so as far as resources, were concerned through this funding, and through this partnership, we were able to create what we call youth voter toolkits, which provide all of the information we focus really hyperlocal, right, and so who's on the ballot, how those offices impact your life on a day to day basis, right, then we provide resources on a nonpartisan basis on where you can find information on candidates, right? Also how you can apply for a male in Ballard, right, all of those types of things. And so we partner with many organizations to do that, such as, you know, every vote every every voice, every vote, we partnered with League of Women Voters like civic organizations, other the commissioner's office in Philadelphia. So really pulling together a bunch of people that are really interested in make sure and making sure that young people are educated and informed and have the tools they need to vote. And so our fill our toolkit was about nine different partners that are part of the collaborative that came together to create this toolkit that we could then go in. And in addition to the ones that contributed to it, we then took that toolkit and trained other organizations on what was on the ballot, right. So, you know, organizations that were going to do Canvas launches, right when it was time to try to get out the vote. And so it really allowed us to expand again, the number of people that were getting information about who's on the ballot, how they apply to, you know, their day to day lived experience, and where to get resources and information to actually vote. Another thing is we created a curriculum, again, a collaborative project that we were able to do pulling together with a committee of 70 League of Women Voters pulling together resources, really, that allowed us to expand. You know, a lot of times smaller nonprofits, like ours don't have the budget to have a lot of staff. So being able to work with other people is really critical. And then, as far as you heard a lot about candidate form, so I just want to speak specifically to one, which was a one I'm very proud of. It was called the Philly youth listening session. And so we kind of flipped the script on the candidates, right? And what what it was was we had young people that, you know, through this, again, funding in this opportunity, we were able to pay to learn again about voting and theory of change. They gave up Friday, Saturday's their spring break, and they learned and then ultimately, we put on a listening session where candidates were brought in, we had 20 Student facilitators, and partnering with many other youth organizations, we were able to really be intentional about getting to those schools that are in the communities that are most underserved in Philadelphia, right. And so those are oftentimes people who are not hearing a lot of this information and are not voting in all honesty, because they really don't understand how it's impacting them. They
I've never really seen government work for them. And so they're not all the time interested in participating in it just because they don't have the education. So we were able to reach more students that we typically would have had a harder time reaching. And through that we had, I think, in total 15 partners that ultimately partnered on this event, we were able to engage 110 students, which include 20, student facilitators, and then we had 29 candidates actually show up, they had to listen to students talk about issues that were really impacting them. And then ultimately, at the end of the day, they were given an opportunity to speak to what they learned, and how that would inform their policymaking decisions, as opposed to just showing up and speaking at young people. So I am extremely grateful for this opportunity. Because again, we were able to partner with so many great organizations. Another one was, we have a Philadelphia Kids campaign, which is at different cloud of organizations that have come together to make sure that we are lifting up voices of those who have, you know, historically been without a voice, right, and really giving them an opportunity to hear directly from candidates, but also to, you know, lift up issues that are impactful for them. So this has been a great opportunity. And I'm extremely grateful. And I would say, you know, wherever you are, the work that you're doing, really finding ways to collaborate, right is going to really be the best way to expand, you know, the reach and expand the electorate to those that have, you know, typically we haven't been meeting where they are, this gives you a great opportunity to do that. And so I'm extremely thankful for what we've been able to accomplish together.
Thank you. Oh,
there's another I'm sorry, the media, I think I spoke to like the media, right. Like, one thing I will say, I'll add to that is, we, you, the media is asking a lot more questions and engaging us a lot more. Right. Again, I think it was historically there was this, you know, myths, you know, like misinformation that youth don't care when you engage them, and you educate them. They care a lot, and they're very action oriented. And so we have seen a lot of media reaching out to our organization to speak directly to the youth. What I'm interested in, in this next chapter, is really how we can expand and have the youth actually contribute to the media more, right? How can we through podcasting, through maybe even having like a local radio show, where they're discussing issues that really are impactful to them, that will then expand our reach to more youth and get them to again, participate more in this process? I know we hear all the time democracy is at risk it is. But we have to really think about how we're engaging and really expanding you know who we're talking to, if we really want to get more people to participate.
Oh, no problem. Thank you, Angelica.
Hi, my name is Ashanti Martin. I am the general manager of Wu rd radio. In Philadelphia, we are the only the only independently black owned black talk media radio station in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and one of only four in the nation. We're celebrating our 20th anniversary this year. And one important thing to know about us is that W rd is very much actively we actively encourage our listeners in our audience to vote. So we're that is one area that we are biased. We're biased toward voter participation. And in fact, we believe that we played an important role in voter turnout in 2020, which as you may know, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was very much a hotbed
of election activity. And so so that just this some context for W rd and our participation in this initiative. We we've lost the slides Oh, put so much work into them. But fortunately, yes, I've got my notes. Old school too. So we have, you know, as part of every voice every vote as a broadcast media company, we partnered with many organizing partners in more than 10 mayoral candidate forums. So these Topics ranged from the environment, arts and culture, and of course issues that are important to Philadelphia's black community. We've worked with many of the media partner media and commit. Thank you, thank goodness. All right. So yes, we are are independently owned. We are, we have a very highly engaged audience and our audience places a lot of trust in us. They really in a lot of ways our audience feels like word belongs to them, which is, which is terrific. So, yes, as a result of the every voice, every vote initiative, we have experienced an unprecedented level of collaboration with media and community groups across Philadelphia. I'm in my first year as general manager here at W rd. And what I can say is that this collaboration really kind of catapulted my ability to get to know other media organizations and other community partners in the city. So I really feel like it put on turbocharger a key mission of my role at WR D, which is to form partnerships. So yes, we did you can skip to the next slide. Thank you. We collaborated in about 10 forums, and this was only in the primary season. So this is going from Election Day of 2022 up till May 16, which is the date which was the date of our primary we collaborated with, as you can see, nine partners in the every voice, every vote coalition can skip forward, thank you, as well as the you know, the activities, it really great. What I can say about every voice, every vote is that it created very much a sort of buzz around Philadelphia. I think that with all the activity, having been new to Philadelphia, this being my first time covering Philadelphia elections as a journalist, my sense was that there had never really been this many opportunities for the public to go out and hear from the candidates. And also before and after really talk to the candidates one on one face to face, I really do feel like it brought humanize the candidates in a way that coverage, you know, is really limited in doing so, not only did it exposes to a world of partners as part of every voice of revolt, but it attracted visibility from other organizations who also wanted to capitalize on this momentum. Thank you. And really what I what excited me a lot about this initiative, because in addition to working as a journalist have worked in marketing, was the every voice, every vote, really having a strong branding component, I think just calling it every voice, every vote, you know, and not saying that this is an initiative of the Lenfest Institute really made it its own concept and gave it a different place in the city's imagination. It also helped us be able to brand our campaign coverage in a way that I don't think we would have been able to otherwise. And as a result, I think it gave us a higher visibility, and more opportunities to say, oh, you know what this this coverage that we usually do? This is this is very relevant, and lets us leverage what every voice of revolt has given us. And its branding Toolkit, which was very strong and very easy to use. So these on the slide are some of the graphics that we created, but very much inspired by every voice every photo. So not only did we broadcast many forums, but we also created compiled interviews and had special interview series on Word. And it all fell nicely under the every voice of revolt umbrella. So those were big advantages.
Thanks, Ashanti. We're running low on time. So I'm going to breeze through a bit if you want to talk about research more in depth, I can talk about it for hours, so just find me find me after but in addition to our partnerships, we also engaged in a comprehensive public opinion research project as part of this initiative, with starting with focus groups and then a city wide public opinion poll. The core thing that came out of that was identifying the top issues that matter to Philadelphians, and then that was used by our media organizations on a slew of reporting. So there's a couple of things here but the Enquirer anchored seven different pieces in this research, including interviews with the focus groups, the focus group participants and data data that visualization I'll do, which is a Spanish language outlet focused specifically on Hispanic and black Philadelphians and Fox 29 actually use the data to frame the only broadcasted mayoral debate in the primary race as well. And the final component here before I pass it back to Sean is that citywide messaging aspect that a Shanthi just Talk about, we ran a citywide PSA campaign on public transportation, on air through our various media partners and in print and digital outlets as well. And we activated a network of 59 social media creators, who spoke directly with their audiences, they published polls that mirror the public opinion survey, they encourage people to go to events, they share their personal motivations for voting. Collectively, all of those social posts reach over 740,000 Philadelphians a voting age, which is 60% of the potential voters in the city.
Yeah, and believe it or not, we're only halfway through our project. As we've now gotten through the primary, and with Philadelphia, being a predominantly democratic city, we you know, often what happens as we go to the general is that we just get people don't feel as though they need to show up because it's already over. But we hit will continue in our efforts to hold forums to focus on solutions and really engage people around, you know, what comes up to and why it's important to continue to show up and engage civically, we'll also be, we're in the process of planning for a civic engagement and accountability initiative that will follow in, that will be ongoing, not just, you know, kind of an election cycle initiative. And some of the key takeaways at this point one is just around infrastructure and the way in which we were able to really catalyze the involvement and engagement in collaboration among our partners, having centering the community voice, and making sure that we were not following the notion of, of kind of the horse race, but really, and also in ensuring that it's nonpartisan, and that we're really focusing on the issues and solutions. But we've only got about two minutes left. And so I do want to make sure that we leave a little bit of room for questions, if there are any, in the audience.
I have a question about convening and agenda construction, and how you all logistically managed the whole apparatus and making sure that people are part of the collaboration had voice input engagement.
So one of the things that was very unique about the role that Lenfest played is that we were very much the catalysts and coordinators, right. And so we did not the forms were put together by our partners, we did have the benefit of having some folks like committee of 70, who were very seasoned in some of those efforts that we did, because we held monthly meetings, which had about 60 to 80 people, you know, in every meeting, we were able to kind of convene folks to put forms together and share best practices, what worked, what didn't work. And in so in that in that regard, and how to best engage. But our role was really focused on coordination, we had consultants that were our community engagement consultant, as well as an editorial consultant that helped to, you know, be a support for our partners, but really left and made sure that we pushed the actual work of the convenings and things like information sessions, to to our partners.
We were also really intentional not to create forced collaborations amongst our partners, so creating the space for them to naturally partner with each other, some of which did more of that than others. And that was okay with us.
Hi, I have a quick question for you guys. What are like the, the big, I guess the important lessons for other other cities that might be inspired by this and want to try to emulate some of your successes,
yet, thanks for the question that we and we have had lots of interest in the structure that we did with every voice, every vote and I think one of the key things is having that strong management structure where we were able to put an infrastructure together in terms of an aggregate site for folks to republish their information, the grounding in research and focus on solutions, nonpartisan you know emphasis in the work as well, and we're continuing to learn. But the kind of key things that we took away were one kind of establishing that infrastructure for for collaboration that helped to spur collaboration and being really, you know, focused on on the non partisanship and focusing on solutions.
Yeah, and I'll add to, I think it was for the partner side, it was super helpful to have that infrastructure, right. And we can look to that, to see kind of what other organizations were doing. So we could partner where we felt like it made sense, but also having the autonomy to kind of really focus, like on engaging your community and meeting them where they were. So not having that forced, like you're going to work together. But having the support when you do was critically important to a lot of these organizations that are doing grassroots work in the community and just don't have the resources to create that sort of infrastructure.
Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you, thank you all. And hopefully that your work gets replicated and other places replicated or emulated other places because you've been doing amazing stuff. So thank you