The XIX: Shall Not Be Denied: Why It Matters Initiative is designed to support projects serving Rhode Island communities facing historic and current barriers to democratic participation including refugee & immigrant, youth, African American, trans & gender-diverse, and homeless & housing insecure populations. Partners at the RI Department of State developed an English and Spanish exhibit traveling statewide, and hosted a panel conversation on February 23, 2021 with local leaders about innovative approaches to voter engagement which can be viewed here.

Why It Matters grant funded projects include the following:

Check the Events page for updated details in the coming months.

Dorcas International, Welcoming Rhode Island, $5,000

Welcoming Rhode Island is developing civic engagement lessons and activities in the adult education curriculum, as well as voter registration. The goal of this project is to increase RI immigrants’ individual civic participation and engagement. Dorcas International has worked to empower refugees and immigrants for nearly 100 years. 

Mixed Magic Theatre & Cultural Events, We, They, and the People, $5,000

We, They, and the People includes three 45-minute programs that will be filmed at Mixed Magic Theatre then streamed to the public for free. The project explores how the Black American experience has been shaped through the Constitution and Supreme Court decisions. The series will end with a virtual panel of community activists, scholars and political leaders who will respond to audience questions and comments.  

Providence Community Library, What Now: Empowering Youth with Passion to Action, $5,000 

What Now: Empowering Youth with Passion to Action includes three virtual public panels for Rhode Island high school-aged students that will educate and inspire them to become democratically active citizens. Panels consist of local freshmen legislators and speakers from RI-based youth-led organizations that have engaged local youth in social action-based movements.

Refugee Dream Center, Your Voice, Your Vote, $5,000

Your Voice, Your Vote is a four-week virtual and paper-based series for first-time refugee and asylee voters which will include information about democratic participation, voter registration, election types, and a ballot breakdown. Materials will simplify voting in the United States, answer questions about the voting process, and debunk myths around voting eligibility as well as increase the number of registered voters among the refugee and asylee community.

RI Coalition for the Homeless, Blocked at the Ballot: How Homelessness Creates Barriers to Civic Participation, $5,000

Blocked at the Ballot includes a two-part virtual, interactive forum that is designed and led by those with lived experience with homelessness and/or housing insecurity. This online discussion series focuses on building broader awareness of the needs of this vulnerable and often disenfranchised population and their abilities to meaningfully participate in our democracy and access civic education, voting, and other opportunities.

Stages of Freedom, Voting in the Age of Breonna, $5,000

Voting in the Age of Breonna includes a two-part virtual civics lesson in democracy, voting rights and political literacy featuring local and national legislators. It consists of a specially commissioned video, two dramatic presentations of historic political courage, and a discussion of two case studies of Black civic engagement and. The project will draw on Stages of Freedom’s voter website, “Voting While Black,” and encourage participants’ engagement in the political process.

Thundermist Health Center, Trans Vote RI, $5,000

The Trans Vote RI project will offer voting resources for trans and gender-diverse people through a specially developed website. The project will also partner with the Providence Board of Canvassers to create a short educational video about how to vote and host a virtual website “launch party” with a  facilitated dialogue about voting.