February is Black History Month, an annual celebration of the achievements and contributions of Black Americans central to all aspects of U.S. history. This time also invites recognition of and participation in the ongoing civil rights movement: an imperative to support equity and justice for Black Americans in the face of the country’s legacy of enslavement, segregation, racist violence, and disenfranchisement.
Within this last avenue is where the work of nonprofits like Black Voters Matter (BVM) Capacity Building Institute continues that of Black activists whose accomplishments include the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other sociopolitical reforms. The movement for Black suffrage is a longstanding effort in the U.S., where gerrymandering and related forms of voter suppression have long sought to stifle and outright exclude Black people at the ballot box.
BVM Capacity Building Institute works to ensure voter equity exists every day of the year, not just election day. In this way, they’re seeking to rectify a broken social contract and guarantee the right to free and fair participation in the democratic process for all.
Meet BVM Capacity Building Institute: A Team of Organizers Supporting Community Power
What is BVM Capacity Building Institute?
BVM Capacity Building Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit partner of Black Voters Matter Fund, a 501(c)(4) that works on voter registration and get-out-the-vote campaigns, policy advocacy, organizational training, and occasional activities funding related to specific elections. As Black Voters Matter emphasizes on its website, it is “NOT an electoral organization. We are first and foremost, a power building organization, and while we firmly believe that voting and electoral organizing is one way to build power, it is by no means the only way.”
What does BVM Capacity Building Institute do?
BVM Capacity Building Institute works on nonpartisan civic engagement to empower individuals and community based organizations. They support local infrastructure, contribute to individual and organizational social justice efforts on the 364 days of the year around Election Day, and seek to uplift the rural counties or smaller municipalities often unaddressed or ignored by political candidates, parties, and media coverage.
As Black Voters Matter Fund further explains, “by investing in local organizations instead of working around them, we introduce tools and connect them with partners (national, state and other counties) in ways that benefit their ongoing work throughout the year. Second, by enabling local organizations to hire local canvassers themselves (rather than simply extracting their local knowledge to hire through outside organizations), we strengthen their relationships with community members rather than undermining those relationships. And third, using a relational organizing approach inherently poses greater potential for accountability, compared with the results of a transactional process.”
Additional examples of the work BVM Capacity Building Institute does include:
- Strengthening organizations working on issues including mass incarceration, gentrification, healthcare, and education.
- Highlighting the critical contributions of Black women to the movement in particular, and supporting their work through continued investment.
- Raising at least $150,000 for a COVID-19 Mutual Aid and Emergency Relief Self-Determination Fund to back mutual aid including emergency funds, food delivery and mobile grocery programs, and tailored support for families of incarcerated and Black immigrant communities.
Why support BVM Capacity Building Institute?
The crux of it is this: voting rights are still not guaranteed to everyone in the United States, and a country in which not everyone can participate in democracy is a country without true democracy. Through their efforts to build community power not just on Election Day but also year-long across non-electoral avenues, BVM Capacity Building Institute is a crucial organization within the broader movement for civil rights and realizing true equity.
Black lives matter, and Black voters matter, and a donation to BVM Capacity Building Institute is an investment in the policy and community progress to further enshrine that truth.
How to Support BVM Capacity Building Institute
To support BVM Capacity Building Institute:
- Donate directly to BVM Capacity Building Institute
- Volunteer with Black Voters Matter Fund
- Subscribe to BVM Capacity Building Institute’s email list to stay up-to-date
- Shop and donate your cash back using Giving Assistant
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