There’s a clear intersection between the work of community foundations and civic engagement. At The Denver Foundation, we believe that democracy works best when everyone shows up. We see it as our duty to ensure that as many Coloradans as possible take advantage of just how easy the process is in our state.
In September, The Denver Foundation held an Issue Briefing on Voter Engagement with New Era Colorado and Conservation Colorado Guest presenters Nicole Hensel, Executive Director of New Era Colorado, and Aly Ferrufino-Coqueugniot, Deputy Political Director of Conservation Colorado shared how each of their organizations is engaging voter communities across the state.
Hensel spoke to the vital role that young people play in strengthening the civic fabric.
“At New Era we’re really not about one election or one moment, it’s about a movement. And it’s about how we rebuild in a more equitable way post COVID. The pandemic and the movement for black lives have exposed and re-exposed the huge inequities in our systems and young people as the future and as the ones who are inheriting a lot of the challenges are the ones to rebuild. We are futuristic, we’re hopeful, we’re imaginative and it’s very important that yes, we see it as our duty to make sure that young people are civically engaged, but also that they’re engaged for a lifetime and seeing the importance of their voice in our society.”
Ferrufino-Coqueugniot addressed the challenges and opportunities of equitably unlocking the Latinx voting block, noting that in less than 20 years, Latinx communities will represent one-third of the state’s population.
“We’re told a false narrative that Latinx people do not vote that they do not show up and that they are disinterested in whatever issue that we’re talking about, especially in the environmental movement,” she added. “Traditionally, we have heard that narrative many times that Latinx people don’t care about these issues and are disengaged. This is not true and this has historically not been true. And this narrative is largely based on a fundamental lack of understanding of the community and lack of cultural competency when it comes to running effective electoral programs for the Latinx community.”
Ferrufino-Coqueugniot pointed to Conservation Colorado/Protegete’s Promotrxs program as one way to engage Latinx voters in culturally responsive ways.
“Our Protégete program works to elevate the voices of Latinx and people of color on the issues that matter most to us, on the issues of our air quality, climate, water, our land, and the health of our community,” she said. “Our Promotoras program works to teach skills to our community to be strong community advocates to identify environmental and justice issues in the community and to really organize ourselves and build organizers within those communities. When we do have elections, we engage our members in those elections and run electoral programs that expand paths to traditional voting universes.”
Simple Actions You Can Take To Be An Engaged Voter:
Make sure your voter registration is up to date. In Colorado, the last day to register online or via mail is Monday, October 26. If you miss online or mail registration deadlines, you will not receive a ballot by mail, but you can still vote in person at a voter service and polling center on Election Day Tuesday, November 3.
Encourage 10 friends and/or family members to exercise their civic duty and vote on or before (if they have a mail-in/absentee ballot) Election Day, Tuesday, November 3.
Educate yourself on all the candidates, issues, initiatives, and measures on this year’s ballot by reviewing Colorado’s 2020 State Ballot Information Booklet online. The book is available in English and Spanish, as well as an mp3 audio version here.
If you would like to review the session, the entire briefing is available on the Foundation’s YouTube channel.