Apr 30, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Community colleges get primetime focus in 2024

Illustration of three columns with a microphone.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

A new nonpartisan voting initiative is launching a national competition for a live, on-campus community college concert ahead of November, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Massive attention is paid to registering college students to vote on the campuses of idyllic four-year schools. But voter rates at community colleges need lots of work.

  • Voting rates for students at two-year public colleges were 10 percentage points lower in 2020 compared to their four-year public school counterparts, according to data collected by Tufts.

Driving the news: The Community College Commitment is launching today to juice voter turnout at two-year colleges, according to a press release shared with Axios.

  • The coalition includes private companies — Levi Strauss, Lyft and Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios — partnering with nonprofits like the American Association of Community Colleges and Students Learn Students Vote Coalition.
  • "[W]e're proud to lead the business community's effort to close the community college voting gap and make it easier for young voters to participate in every election," Michelle Gass, CEO and President of Levi Strauss, said in a statement.
  • "We spearheaded Vote Early Day and now we're opening the next frontier in civic engagement by investing in community colleges," said Chris McCarthy, President and CEO, SHOWTIME/MTV Entertainment Studios and Office of the CEO, Paramount Global.

Zoom in: The coalition will partner with campuses on voter registration and early voting.

  • Special events and giveaways are on the table — timed to National Voter Registration Day, National Voter Education Week and Vote Early Day.
  • The headliner is the concert competition series, capped by a live concert on Vote Early Day, Oct. 29. The group promises a "well-known, surprise" artist that will be announced later.
  • To enter, colleges need to put on voter education drives or host voter education events. Deadline for entry is Sept. 20.

Zoom out: This is the second cycle in a row to see a targeted push at voter turnout for two-year schools.

  • In 2022, Levi's and Pizza to the Polls — a nonprofit handing out snacks to people waiting in line to vote — were at 34 campuses, including Miami Dade Community College in Florida and Austin Community College in Texas.
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