Secretary of State Gorbea launches Rhode Island Civic Fellowship program
Providence, RI – On Wednesday, Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea convened a group of high school students, academic advisors and local canvassing officials from six communities to launch the Rhode Island Civic Fellowship program, an initiative designed to increase voter turnout among Rhode Islanders between the ages of 18 and 29 – an age group commonly referred to as millennials.
The Rhode Island Civic Fellowship program is a non-partisan initiative that aims to engage millennials from Bristol, Burrillville, East Providence, North Kingstown, Pawtucket and Warwick in the voting process.
Participating students will design and implement a non-partisan outreach and engagement plan that leverages social media to target millennial voters in their communities. The students will also participate in workshops led by the Secretary of State's office, internship opportunities at their local Board of Canvassers, poll worker training, and placement as poll workers during the 2016 Presidential Preference Primary.
While millennial voter participation is generally low across the nation, with only 21.5% of registered Millennials voting in the 2014 General Election, turnout in Rhode Island is even lower. In 2014, only 17% of Rhode Island voters between the ages of 18 and 29 voted in the General Election.
"I am committed to engaging and empowering all Rhode Islanders in the electoral process," Gorbea said. "We can and must do more to encourage participation among our younger citizens. Their active participation is critical to the state's success."
Participating students include: Aurora Faria from Mt. Hope High School in Bristol; Sarahlynne Simas and Bradley Schionning from Burrillville High School; Nicholas Guarino from East Providence High School; Hailey Alexandra Cedor from North Kingstown Senior High School; Belinda Goncalves Moniz and Cedrick Dacosta from Shea High School in Pawtucket, Montrell J. Sivels from Tolman High School in Pawtucket, Leslie Medina from the Blackstone Academy Charter School in Pawtucket; and Hannah Ellis from Warwick Veterans High School.
The Rhode Island Civic Fellowship program is made possible with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. In July 2015, the Rhode Island Department of State received a Knight Prototype Fund award as a winner of the Knight News Challenge on Elections, which sought ideas to inform voters and increase civic participation before, during and after elections.
"The fellowship program will meet millennials where they are— leveraging social media to inform and engage the next generation of voters so they can participate in community decision-making and help strengthen our democracy," said Chris Barr, Knight Foundation director for media innovation.
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