Making Democracy Work

2012 Gerbode Grant

Gerbode Foundation Letter of Inquiry

January 10, 2012

Olivia Malabuyo Tablante, Administrative Manager
Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation
111 Pine Street, Suite 1515
San Francisco, CA 94111

Dear Ms. Tablante:

The League of Women Voters of Oakland (LWVO) respectfully requests consideration from the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation for a grant in the amount of $10,000. The grant would fund production and distribution of the November 2012 Oakland Easy Voter Guide, a publication designed to foster civic engagement by providing comprehensive basic information about local elections to voters in the city of Oakland. The guide would be produced in English, Spanish, and Chinese, and 16,000 copies would be made available at libraries and community organizations throughout Oakland. We believe the Oakland Easy Voter Guide meets the Gerbode Foundation's mission of funding high-impact projects that advance citizen participation and inclusiveness in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The League is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots political organization that promotes informed and active participation at all levels of government. For over 90 years, the League has been working to foster civic engagement and increase understanding of public policy issues. We strive to increase the number of citizens who vote, to provide election information that meets the needs of a diverse voting population, and to help voters stay informed about local government on an ongoing basis.

The League serves the voting population of Oakland through the following initiatives:

  • Education on ballot measures: Prior to each election, LWVO representatives give nonpartisan, educational presentations of state and local ballot measures at community organizations, clubs, senior centers, and nursing homes. In the past two years, we have reached a total of 3100 people at 52 sites.
  • Candidate forums: Before each election, LWVO sponsors forums in which candidates for local offices are invited to address voters and answer questions about issues of interest to audience members in a neutral, moderated environment. In the November 2010 election, the League sponsored or co-sponsored ten candidate forums with approximately 1600 people in attendance. Some forums were also broadcast online or on KTOP to reach even broader audiences.
  • Civic education publications and websites: LWVO produces publications and pamphlets designed to educate Oaklanders on local government and civic issues, such as the Oakland Easy Voter Guide; http://www.smartvoter.org, an online resource for election, ballot measure, and candidate information; and Who Represents Oakland, which helps the people of Oakland identify and reach out to the elected officials who represent them.
  • Voter registration: LWVO distributes and monitors voter registration affidavits at 80 sites throughout the city of Oakland. During election years, the League is involved in voter registration drives and pre-registration for high school students and provides guidance to other community organizations that wish to register voters.

A grant from the Gerbode Foundation would enable LWVO to produce the November 2012 edition of our flagship voter education publication, the Oakland Easy Voter Guide. The goal of the guide is to provide background information on the offices up for election in Oakland, an introduction to the candidates for those offices, and an overview of the ballot measures affecting Oakland and Alameda County. The guide is intended to meet the needs of voters of all backgrounds and educational levels. For many voters, the Oakland Easy Voter Guide will be their only or primary source of information about the election. For those who would like more information, the guide will include links to additional resources for voter information, such as the League's Smart Voter website, the candidates' websites, and the Alameda County Registrar of Voters website.

The Oakland Easy Voter Guide will contain a brief narrative submitted by each candidate for each local race that affects Oakland; in 2012, we expect to provide information about candidates for four city council races, city attorney, several Oakland school board positions, Alameda County judicial seats, and a number of special district elections. The guide will also include an overview of any local ballot measures specific to Oakland, Alameda County, or special districts of which Oakland is a part.

The Oakland Easy Voter Guide will be compiled from information provided by the candidates themselves. Ballot measure information is provided by Oakland League members. The guide will undergo analysis by a focus group from Next Step Learning, an Oakland-based adult literacy program, to ensure that the text is clear and comprehensible to voters at all reading levels. The League will then hire skilled translators to create Spanish and Chinese versions of the Easy Voter Guide. Publication will be overseen by a part-time, paid project coordinator with support from a volunteer liaison from the League's board of directors.

The outcome of this project, if funded and successful, will be an eight- to twelve-page color publication that will serve as a comprehensive overview of local election information for Oakland's voters. The League will produce 16,000 copies of the Oakland Easy Voter Guide, including 10,000 in English, 3,000 in Spanish, and 3,000 in Chinese. League volunteers will distribute the guide to 60 community organizations, libraries, churches, senior centers, and other distribution points throughout the city. League representatives will also distribute the guide to audience members at other voter education events, such as candidate forums and presentations on state and local ballot measures. The guide will be made available on the Oakland League's website (http://www.lwvoakland.org) and on the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund's voter information web site, http://www.smartvoter.org.

Enclosed, you will find a project budget detailing the projected revenues and expenses for producing the Oakland Easy Voter Guide. I have also provided a copy of the November 2010 version of the Oakland Easy Voter Guide to give your board a sense for the style and quality of content voters can expect to see in the November 2012 edition. If I can provide any additional information to help the board evaluate the League's application, please do not hesitate to let me know.

We thank the Gerbode Foundation in advance for considering our request.

Regards,

Megan Chenoweth League of Women Voters of Oakland

Gerbode Budget

Expenses

Printing (JT Litho): based on 12 full-color pages
English version, 10,000 copies 3512
Spanish and Chinese versions, 3,000 copies each 3731

Translation: based on 5000 words
Spanish translation and review 800
Chinese translation and review 1100

Focus group (Next Step Learning)
7 members @ $25/person 175

Project coordinator (Alec McDonald)
Consulting fee 3000

Total Expenses 12318

Revenues

Gerbode Foundation grant 10000
Donations from LWVO members 2000
Miscellaneous LWVO operating funds 318

Total Revenues 12318

Prospect Research Notes

League of Women Voters of Oakland
Prospect Research Notes

Prospects worth following up on:

Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation:
http://foundationcenter.org/grantmaker/gerbode/index.html

Gives grants for "citizen participation/building communities/inclusiveness" in the San Francisco Bay Area.
To do: Submit a letter of inquiry describing the project, plus a budget.
Deadline: Rolling.

David B. Gold Foundation: http://www.goldfoundation.org/default.htm
Geographic focus on Alameda County (among others), plus interest in projects that promote "democratic values." (In fact, they've funded LWVSF, so we might want to exercise caution there.)
To do: Contact state or LWVSF about the possible conflict, perhaps? Then go ahead with the application if that's all okay.
Deadline: Rolling.

Prospects I looked at, but that don't seem worth it:

Comcast Foundation
This seemed like a possibility because we had a local contact, but on further review, I'm not sure it's a good fit. Comcast Foundation doesn't have an application process, grants are by invitation, and they're nationwide in scope, when we're supposed to talk to National if we want to solicit from an organization that's national in scope.

East Bay Community Foundation
Apparently they've funded us before, but currently they don't seem like a good fit. Funding priorities are limited to programs for children, arts/culture, environment, and economic development. This seems like a loss.

Carl Gellert and Celia Berta Gellert Foundation
They're focused on the Bay Area, they fund a wide range of organizations, and they don't seem very picky about the criteria. That could be worth a try. On the other hand, I don't see any evidence of other civic organizations getting funding from them; it's mostly schools, cultural organizations, and religious institutions.

Genentech Foundation
They're national in scope, so it's unlikely we'd be a good fit.

Bill Graham Foundation
Seems to have more of an artistic and spiritual bent than what we do.

San Francisco Community Foundation: http://www.sff.org/
There's a reference to a "get out the vote" program which seems like a good fit for an Easy Voter Guide next year; it's part of their social justice program. But this program appears to be getting restructured at the moment, so it's unclear how the application programs works at this time. To do: Contact Navin Moul, social justice fellow, at nxm@sff.org, or James Head, jwh@sff.org, for information about the current status of the program.
Update 12/4: Revised website makes no reference to a "get out the vote" program. I presume this is dead. I don't see any other program that seems like a good fit anymore.

Clorox Foundation: http://www.cloroxcsr.com/cc-foundation/
Funds civic organizations in Oakland. Seems like a reasonably good fit.
To do: Go ahead with the application!
Deadline: First day of each quarter, so July 1 is the next one (then October 1, January 1, April 1, etc.).
Update 12/4: Per discussion with a program representative, they do not consider projects like the EVG to fit into their funding priorities (they "don't fund anything political"). This is a no-go.

Taube Family Foundation: http://www.taubephilanthropies.org
Priorities include "civic nonprofit organizations" and geographic focus is on the Bay Area.
To do: Submit a letter of inquiry.
Deadline: Rolling; suggests sending an inquiry three months prior to when the money is needed.<br< Update 12/4: Their priorities may have been revised; they now say they support "public policy research" but nothing about civic nonprofit organizations.