Congratulations to the winners of the Democracy Shark Tank!
Last weekend, teams of students competed to earn grant money to support their plans for increasing voter engagement on their campuses at the 2022 Minnesota Student Voter Summit, hosted by LeadMN. Students participated in workshops, drafted action plans, and learned about ways to support voter engagement on their campuses.
Featured speakers included Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, Students Learn Students Vote Coalition Executive Director Clarissa Unger, campus leaders from St. Olaf and Inver Hills Community College, and representatives from Minnesota Common Cause.
Students from North Hennepin Community College and Normandale Community College present their strategy to judges as part of the Democracy Shark Tank competition.
A team comprised of students from Normandale Community College and North Hennepin Community College were the first group of winners from the Democracy Shark Tank competition. These students noted inequities in voting rates between white students and students of color, highlighting the ways that their campuses could support BIPOC students to vote at the same rate as their white peers. They intend to build relationships with faculty members so they can present in classes, utilize D2L to communicate with students, and then host events to disburse voting information in different languages. The students also plan to use the funds to provide transportation to their peers, to polling locations and community meetings and events. They will encourage early voting, so students don't miss any important deadlines or dates.
Students from Minneapolis College present their strategy to judges as part of the Democracy Shark Tank competition.
The second group of student winners of the Democracy Shark Tank competition are from Minneapolis College. These students intend to make Minneapolis College a voting location, and employ other strategies in order to increase their student voting rate to 75%. The students noted that in 2020, Minneapolis College students voted at a rate of 65%, which was just below the national average for student voters. They mentioned language barriers, declining enrollment, and lack of voter education as challenges on their campus. They plan to recruit a voter engagement coordinator and create a campus-wide student voting coalition called "Vote MC" to support their work. They also intend to provide transportation to the polls for students, and also talk with international students about ways they can stay civically engaged. They noted that sustainability from year to year would be crucial to their success, so investing now would not only empower students today but also in years to come.
Students from Inver Hills Community College present their strategy to judges as part of the Democracy Shark Tank competition.
The third group of student winners of the Democracy Shark Tank competition are from Inver Hills Community College. These students shared context about their ambitious goals and successful efforts from 2020 - which earned them the highest voter turnout rate of any community college in the country! They plan to employ a robust communication strategy to educate student voters, and even host debates and candidate forums. They also mentioned involving international students in the civic engagement process.