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Our collective work will power a transformation toward a more liberated future, offering access to tools that produce increased efforts in civic education, engagement, and advocacy. We will work with intentionality to amplify the voices of our neighbors, ensuring we have a more informed, participatory, and cohesive community.



Where we’ve been.


Co-Founders Erika Anthony and Crystal Bryant created Cleveland VOTES to fill the voter registration void for individuals incarcerated and re-entering society. While our organization was founded in 2014, for the first couple of years we operated as a project and over the years have evolved into a critical organization in the democracy-building ecosystem. In May 2023, we opened our first office in Midtown. While we have deeper roots in the community than ever before,  in some ways we are still a startup–we are learning, growing and stretching our imaginations for what is possible. We know that to build a healthy democracy and increase voter participation, the collective WE must demonstrate the value of the vote. 


 History of Cleveland VOTES 

Why Cleveland?

Democracy extends far beyond elections and we are at a pivotal moment in Cleveland. Clevelanders have deep distrust in local government and elected officials, yet with the recent elections there is some renewed energy. We want to harness that energy to not only strengthen our organization, but foster a social fabric that celebrates equitable democracy. So Cleveland VOTES  works  with many local and state-wide  organizations to increase visibility of civic engagement work in the local  ecosystem. We activate the community through innovative collaboration.


The Evolution of Our Work

While we prioritize voter engagement and registration, Cleveland VOTES  also invests in civic education, partnering with local schools and education organizations regularly.  Giving the community access to information that is not always accessible is a priority. We want to remind all residents of their voting power constantly, not just during an election. Over the years, Cleveland VOTES has also evolved into a democracy movement that offers capacity-building resources, such as our annual Equitable Civic Engagement Fund microgrant program. In 2023, our organization awarded 24 local partners collective funding that totaled $100,000, and we continue to engage with them through our Community of Practice, where grantees can participate in cross-organizational programming. Knowing this work is not limited to our region, we also partner with state and national organizations that operate with a mutual landscape, such as Ohio Voice, ACLU Ohio, and Nonprofit Vote


Cleveland VOTES also annually amplifies and celebrates civic holidays (such as National Voter Registration Day and Vote Early Day) as ramp-up tools to increase voter participation. And we consistently support issues and campaigns that align with our values (examples)  Outside of election season, we continue to engage people with annual civic-themed events, such as our State of the Democracy, and by providing democracy-themed marketing & educational tools, like our Democracy in Review report and #CommitToCle: A Democracy Blog. There are a lot of great democracy-building tools out there, but Cleveland is a unique region and therefore requires unique tools. Cleveland VOTES has put in the leg work, research, and relationship-building that is required to meet the civic needs of the diverse people living in Northeast Ohio. 


Where we’re going.


We believe our collective work will power a transformation toward a more liberated future, offering access to tools that produce increased efforts in civic education, engagement, and advocacy. We will work with intentionality to amplify the voices of our neighbors, ensuring we have a more informed, participatory, and cohesive community.


When elected officials are not accountable and committed to community, it leads to a vicious circle where increased cynicism leads to low engagement and turnout. Our path forward demands elected officials engage and represent community needs.

Realizing Equitable Civic Engagement

Democracy is about more than elections. Making voting matter to people, investing in civic education in our schools, making space for art activism, telling a new story of our city, and advancing democracy through our elections and beyond will be key priorities.


Our partners and movement need the most up-to-date and creative research and data to engage with the community and advance our mission. We will be investing in research, data, & tools, learning from each other, and creating & building leaders through dedications and commitment. 


Grantmaking and the funding space should be a partnership based on mutual interests and goals, so we're raising the resources to help build our partners, and investing dollars and time into the community we want to live in.

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Participation and engagement must be paramount and are essential to Cleveland's future. Clevelanders should make the decisions for our city and know that their voices matter. And our structures and community pillars must evolve to welcome new leaders and perspectives.


We expand on these  four “pillars”  in  our four-year strategic plan, which you can download here. 

You can start the activation process by scrolling through  our different pages.


Here is what you will find:

Information about past, current, and future programming offerings from Cleveland VOTES

Current grantmaking opportunities, our Speaker Request Form, our community engagement blog #CommitToCle, and our Activation Ballot

Accessible and educational democracy-building tools from Cleveland VOTES and our partners

Upcoming events organized by Cleveland VOTES and/or our partners, as well as key election dates

A guide for contacting Cleveland VOTES

team members

We are also on social media (links at the bottom of this page),  and you can sign up for your newsletter on our homepage. Our newsletter provides helpful information on elections, Cleveland VOTES programming + events, partner resources + events, campaign updates, and more!

Donations are also welcome. You can donate here. Here are some of the current  donors whose generosity is helping to  fund equitable civic engagement in Northeast Ohio:

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