Nonprofits Tapped to Register Voters | The New York Community Trust
November 6, 2019   |   By The New York Community Trust
Nonprofits Tapped to Register Voters
Community Votes training Phipps Neighborhoods staff

ALL HANDS ON DECK: Louisa Hackett (left) of Community Votes trains Phipps Neighborhoods staff and students to register and educate clients of this Bronx nonprofit.

New York City and State consistently have among the lowest voter turnouts in the country. Community Votes was created to help social service providers register and educate voters.

Over the past three years, The Trust has given Community Votes $190,000 to expand this successful model. Part of this support came from our Annual Fund. We spoke with Yushu’a Smith, 35, one of the many “get out the vote” volunteers trained in this effort.

Yushu’a Smith and Louisa Hackett

Yushu’a Smith (left) and Louisa Hackett hang up early voting signs in the Bronx. Photos by Karen
Smul for The Trust

An interview with Yushu’a Smith

Tell us about your job.
I’m an evaluation associate at Phipps Neighborhoods, a Bronx nonprofit that works to eradicate poverty by providing career training, education programs, and more. I help collect and crunch data on how we are serving our clients.

How did you start getting out the vote?
My supervisor asked if I wanted to get trained on voter engagement—and I like to learn new things—so I said yes. I like helping people have a voice and harness their power as voters. I also want to make sure the people who best represent our community get elected.

Have you been able to register and educate a lot of people?
Yes! Phipps Neighborhoods serves hundreds of people every day. I trained and equipped staff at the front desks of our Melrose, Soundview, and West Farms locations. Clients and neighbors coming in for classes or child care walk away as registered voters. We also have a table at our spring health fair and community centers, and we ask folks to register and fill out voter pledge cards that get mailed to them at home.

How do you measure success?
We saw a 13 percent increase in turnout in a recent primary and a 10 percent increase in the general election among voters contacted by Phipps Neighborhoods and six other groups that were trained by Community Votes. The investment in training staff to be civically engaged will also pay off long term.

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