NEWS RELEASE: Better informing voters and increasing civic participation focus of new $1.4 million support to Democracy Works from Knight Foundation and MacArthur Foundation

Brooklyn, N.Y. — March 4, 2015 — Democracy Works Inc., a nonpartisan nonprofit that uses technology to advance civic engagement, will expand its offerings to make voting easier and add transparency to the election process with $1.4 million in new support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The support kicks off Democracy Works’ second round of fundraising, which began in late 2014.

“This support puts us on track to become financially sustainable and to continue building innovative technology that helps Americans become more actively engaged in our democracy,” said Seth Flaxman, Democracy Works co-founder and executive director. “We are grateful to have funders who understand our mission to upgrade the infrastructure of our democracy.”

Knight Foundation is committing $1 million, adding to $1.26 million in previous support. The MacArthur Foundation is investing $400,000.

The funding builds on Democracy Works' success with TurboVote, an online voter engagement service that helps people register to vote, request an absentee ballot and receive election reminders. Since its launch in 2012, TurboVote has served over 250,000 voters through partnerships with over 200 colleges, as well as 12 nonprofits, and achieved an 80 percent participation rate among registered users.

Knight support will go toward expanding the TurboVote platform to provide citizens with easier access to voting information, extending its reach to more colleges and securing additional partnerships with civic-minded nonprofit organizations. Funding will also help launch Ballot Scout, an online solution that helps local government officials track absentee ballots using Postal Service barcode technology.

“By making civic information more relevant and available, Democracy Works is using technology to help citizens make more informed decisions and meaningfully contribute to their communities,” said John Bracken, Knight Foundation vice president for media innovation. “These tools can help create lasting community engagement around important issues, while making the voting process more transparent.”

Born out of foundation grants and individual donations, Democracy Works has emerged as the new model for nonprofit long-term sustainability; partner institutions such as colleges, nonprofits, and governments contribute to the nonprofit to take advantage of Democracy Works’ technology and programs. Financial sustainability will allow Democracy Works to become a permanent new force in American civic life, thanks to the support of Knight Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation.

Support for Democracy Works forms part of Knight Foundation’s efforts to leverage new digital tools to improve the ways in which Americans relate to their government and one another. 

Knight recently launched the Knight News Challenge on Elections, offering a share of more than $3 million for ideas to better inform voters and increase civic participation before, during, and after elections. To apply and for more information visit newschallenge.org.

For more information on Democracy Works visit democracy.works.

About Democracy Works Inc.
Democracy Works is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the idea that voting should fit the way we live. They are a team of software developers, public policy wonks, and civic organizers working together to build the tools a modern democracy needs. Their first offering, launched in 2010, was TurboVote, an online tool that eliminates the most common barriers to voting. Their most recent tool, Ballot Scout, is designed to assist local election officials by integrating technology to better serve voters.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more visit, knightfoundation.org.

About the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society. For more visit, macfound.org.