2019 Grants Challenge
🎉 Winner

Empowering LA Youth to Engage in the Civic Process

Rock the Vote will help build a new generation of Los Angeles civic leaders and volunteers through: 1) Democracy Class, a fun, interactive high school curriculum about pre-registering, voting, participating in the census, and getting involved in or running for a seat on a Los Angeles Neighborhood Council, and 2) create-a-thons with local artists and activists to develop compelling messages and original content about voting and the census that will be shared nationwide through social media.


Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

Los Angeles Unified School District

Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.

Rock the Vote was founded by music executives in 1990 to engage young people to respond to censorship of hip-hop and rap artists. Through our first partnership with MTV, we promoted the message that “Censorship is Un-American” and empowered young people nationwide, particularly from marginalized communities, to make their voices heard. Since then, Rock the Vote has revolutionized the way we use pop culture, music, art, and technology to promote civic and community engagement and build collective power. Rock the Vote has registered and turned out millions of young voters, successfully fought for and defended voting rights, and lifted up the voices of young people to create change.

A recent example of how Rock the Vote elevated and supported young voices to drive change was our work with the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. After the tragic mass shooting at their school in February of 2018, these students refused to be silenced or patronized. The Parkland students were connected to Rock the Vote, and we worked alongside them to ensure the movement provided the path for tangible civic action and engagement.

Rock the Vote supported the Parkland students throughout the process of their coordinating the national March for Our Lives. We powered voter registration efforts at the DC march and sibling marches around the country and their Road to Change bus tour through a customized online voter registration tool and text-to-code directing youth to register. We also advised the students on the voter registration process and how to capture contact data, engaged members of our network in promoting and volunteering at the march, produced voter registration drive and social media toolkits, helped to coordinate and set up volunteer training, hosted the official pre-march poster-making event, provided research and resources to inform the selection of Road to Change bus tour stops, and sent GOTV and other election reminders to youth registered through the Parkland Student’s movement. Rock the Vote is proud that we were able to empower the Parkland students by providing critical support to them in their quest to bring about transformational change.

Which of the CONNECT metrics will your submission impact?​​

Participation in neighborhood councils

Rates of volunteerism

Voting rates

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?​


How will your project make LA the best place to CONNECT?



In partnership with LAUSD, Rock the Vote will pilot test the teaching the curriculum in LAs high schools. This will include getting the buy in of teachers and other stakeholders to build a culture where civics education is prioritized. We will also create a coalition of LA partners to promote the use of the curriculum by community centers and youth-serving organizations. The curriculum will include lessons on voting and pre-registering, LAs Neighborhood Councils, voting rights, local elections, and a hands-on exercise on a local issue.


Research has documented that almost 90% of 18-29 year-olds are on line and that engaging in activism through social media and other online tools led to offline activism. Rock the Vote will tap the enormous creative talent of the Los Angeles community by hosting three day-long or weekend-long “create-a-thons” for youth ages16-34 in the arts community. They will create original content such as memes, videos, flyers, posters, and graphics that will encourage voting, participating in the census, and volunteering to register voters and/or fighting misinformation about the census. Rock the Vote will recruit participants through local arts and civic engagement nonprofits, student organizations, Boys and Girls Clubs, and groups that engage people of color. We will also advertise the create-a-thons through creative media and entertainment partners, film schools, Facebook, and other social media channels.


Through Democracy Class, Rock the Vote will reach Los Angeles high school juniors and seniors. Through the create-a-thons, we will work with community partners and volunteers ages 16-34 from the arts and activist communities, with a focus on reaching youth of color and bilingual youth.


SUMMER 2019: Make needed Democracy Class curriculum updates, build a coalition of local partners to promote the curriculum, line up the teaching of the curriculum with LAUSD, and create systems for tracking the number of students served. Develop marketing campaign for create-a-thons and build a website to house the content.

FALL 2019: Launch Democracy Class curriculum and create media opportunities on the importance of civics education and prepare for, promote, and host the first create-a-thon.

WINTER 2019: Continue to teach Democracy Class and to prepare for, promote, and host the second create-a-thon so that messaging can be used to promote the 2020 primary elections and the census.

SPRING 2019: Continue to teach Democracy Class and to prepare for, promote, and host the third create-a-thon to promote the 2020 primary and general elections and the census.


Progress will be measured by: having the curriculum taught in 25% of LAUSD’s 94 high schools, recruiting more than 150 youth to create compelling content on the census and voting, and signing up at least 40,000 Los Angeles to receive information on voting.

In what stage of innovation is this project?​

Pilot project (testing a new idea on a small scale to prove feasibility)

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

Rock the Vote will consider the project to be a success if:

1. The Democracy Class curriculum is taught in 25% of LAUSDs 94 high schools during the grant period with a long-term goal of having the curriculum taught in all high schools annually.

2. Rock the Vote successfully adds new segments to the curriculum to include information on the city’s network of Neighborhood Councils and the census.

3. More than 40,000 young Los Angeles residents sign up for election reminders and ongoing information about voting and elections.

4. Compelling content is created through the three create-a-thons with at least 150 participants and shared widely with Los Angeles nonprofit organizations, businesses and government agencies.