This article is cross posted with permission from Democracy Fund.
Back in January of 2012, TurboVote had one partner school, our first grant had only just come in, and I was struggling with how to run payroll for the first time. That month I hired a dynamic young organizer, Sam Novey, on one condition: fly to Miami for two weeks with no travel budget and get three colleges that are a little bit interested in TurboVote signed on as partners. Over a dozen trips to Florida later, we’ve come a long way.
Last month, Senator Bob Graham announced in front of a packed audience of student affairs professionals from across the country that Florida was now “leading the charge” with 38 colleges and universities from across the state institutionalizing voter engagement with the help of TurboVote. He was sharing some breaking news. The Florida College System (FCS) had just announced a new partnership with TurboVote to bring our tool to 27 state and community colleges—making this is the first system-wide project of the FCS Civic Literacy Initiative, which aims to make civic engagement part of the experience of all 850,000 students enrolled in the system.
Bringing this partnership to life required some serious teamwork. Our first few Florida colleges were all introduced to us through the Knight Foundation. Funding from Knight and the Democracy Fund helped us keep a team of talented organizers focused on this opportunity for over a year, and funding from the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College is what made the whole FCS expansion ultimately possible.