Spotlight on Voter Education Fund recipient: Korean American Coalition – Washington, KAC-WA

In a series over the next few weeks, we’re featuring a few of the recipients of our Voter Education Fund who make a difference in our communities.

Taking a holistic approach to voter education is a great way to empower voters within a specific community. The Korean American Coalition – Washington (KAC-WA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to strengthen the Korean American community not just through civic education and participation, but also through leadership development, community advocacy and networking.

“Korean-Americans need to have their voices elevated, and also need to join in solidarity with other people-of-color groups on policies that impact our communities,” said Yunee Ham, Executive Board Secretary and Director of Voter Registration for KAC-WA.

Pictured: KAC-WA works with the community to educate and empower Korean-American voters.

Yunee explains how KAC-WA focuses on Korean Americans in Washington State, working to increase community access and exposure to public policy on the local and federal level.

“One of our main goals is to strengthen and empower the Korean-American community and to enhance its profile and influence through civic education and participation,” she said. “We believe that civic engagement is a crucial part of voicing our opinions.”

A participant in the Voter Education Fund since 2016, KAC-WA believes that civic education and participation is important to the Korean-American community. It is the organization’s mission to make civic participation more approachable and create opportunities for the community to participate in voicing their opinions.

“Voter education is an important way to demonstrate the power of people and ensure that elected officials are held accountable to their constituents,” said Yunee.

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Spotlight on Voter Education Fund recipient: Being Empowered thru Supportive Transitions, BEST

In a series over the next few weeks, we’re featuring a few of the recipients of our Voter Education Fund who make a difference in our communities.

Voter education can take on many different forms, helping meet people’s needs through creative and meaningful ways. For Being Empowered thru Supportive Transitions (BEST), this means providing services and education to formerly incarcerated people that assist in their reentry efforts and help them understand their restored voting rights.

“We support former incarcerated persons with mentoring services, guiding them thru the complex systems of society to help them overcome some of the barriers and impacts of collateral consequences,” says Reverend Jimmie James, Executive Director of BEST.

Pictured: BEST volunteers share voting information at a local community event.

Rev. Jimmie shares that reintegration efforts to welcome formerly incarcerated people back into their communities as valued members sets them up for success, and that voter education is essential to help them feel empowered to create societal change.

“This work is important for us to do because we have seen people affected by the criminal justice system fail to be successful in their reentry efforts,” he said. “Voter education is one of the most important ways this community can have a direct impact on their lives and become participants in the change they need and desire.”

A first time participant in the Voter Education Fund (VEF), Rev. Jimmie had worked with other agencies involved in VEF and knew that BEST had to get involved to help this community make an impact.

“It is a first step towards helping people returning from incarceration realize they are part of the community though voter participation and can make change,” he said.

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Voter Education Fund kickoff was a success!

It was a long day of training and information but the recipients of our Voters Education Fund program were happy to participate!

Thank you to every organization who came to our kickoff today and who is doing great things to help expand voter education and outreach to underserved communities throughout King County!

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Applications now open for 2018 Voter Education Fund

We’re excited to announce that applications are now open for the 2018 Voter Education Fund. King County Elections and Seattle Foundation are awarding $460,000 in grants to increase voter engagement in underserved communities.

Organizations encouraged to apply include, but are not limited to, those serving communities of color, limited-English speaking communities, people with disabilities, low-income youth, veterans, people experiencing homelessness, and people who have been convicted of a felony.

2017 VEF Grantees
2017 Voter Education Fund grantees with staff from King County Elections and Seattle Foundation.

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Removing Barriers to Voting

When I was running to be your Director of Elections, I attended a candidate forum organized by a Vietnamese-American civic group. I asked the audience of about 100 people to raise their hands if they knew King County Elections translated voting materials into Vietnamese. To my surprise, only one person raised their hand. I knew then that we needed to work harder for a more inclusive voting process.

Voter Education Fund Group 2
Recipients of the Voter Education Fund

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King County Elections and Seattle Foundation announce recipients of $435,000 Voter Education Fund

We’re excited to announce the recipients of the Voter Education Fund. King County Elections and Seattle Foundation are providing $435,000 in grants for voter engagement in communities that are historically underrepresented in the democratic process.

A total of 30 community-based organizations are receiving funding to offer basic education about voting in King County and technical assistance, such as helping voters complete a voter registration form.

ACRS Presidential Town Hall 2
A presidential town hall with limited-English speaking voters.

The fund offered community-based organizations the opportunity to apply for up to $25,000 to develop a 9-month campaign to engage voters or potential voters and up to $10,000 to provide a series of smaller events.

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King County Elections and Seattle Foundation launch $400,000 Voter Education Fund

We’re excited to announce that today King County Elections and Seattle Foundation launched the Voter Education Fund to award $400,000 in grants to community-based organizations. Continue reading

Twenty-two community partners funded to increase limited-English speaking voter participation

Earlier this year, King County Elections and the Seattle Foundation kicked-off an initiative to address the need for voter education and culturally relevant technical assistance with limited-English speaking communities.

We are excited to announce that we’ll be partnering with 22 community-based organizations to help us do that work. They are:

  • Asian Counseling and Referral Services
  • APACEvotes
  • Eritrean Community in Seattle and Vicinity
  • Inter*Im Community Development Association
  • International Community Health Services
  • Iraqi Community Center and South King County Emerging Communities for Equity partners Bhutanese Community Resource Center of WA, Nsanga Corporation and Partner in Employment
  • Korean American Coalition
  • Latino Community Fund and partners South Park Information and Resource Center and Colectiva Legal del Pueblo
  • Open Doors for Multicultural Families
  • Rajana Society
  • SeaMar
  • Somali Community Services
  • Somali Family Safety Task Force
  • Somali Youth and Family Club
  • Tasveer
  • White Center Community Development Association and partner Coalition of Immigrants, Refugees and Communities of Color

Organizations will provide voter education through outreach activities such as gatherings (e.g. workshops or ballot parties) that will help educate LES voters on the voting anpartnersd democratic process. They will also provide LES voters with technical assistance on how to complete a voter registration form, how to update voter information, and where to find a ballot drop box.

Increasing voter access for all voters is a priority for Elections and this is a big step in the right direction! Stay tuned for detailed stories on how these community organizations are connecting with limited English-speaking residents and helping to engage King County’s diverse communities.