Blue and yellow graphic with the image of students sitting around a table talking. A blue speech bubble on the left side reads "Raise Your VOICE" and in the bottom right corner is the logo of the UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement. 

The UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement is pleased to share the application for the 2023-2024 Valuing Open and Inclusive Conversation and Engagement (VOICE) Initiative. VOICE provides funding for UC students, staff and faculty who are interested in conducting research or coordinating programs and activities that further the Center’s mission of exploring the intersection of expression, engagement and democratic learning and consider what can be done to restore trust in the value of free speech on college campuses and within society at large.

As a VOICE awardee, you will be welcomed into a community of passionate individuals who share a common purpose of advancing the principles of the Center on their own campuses. VOICE recipients also become part of a larger UC-wide and national community of scholars, educators, and activists. There are opportunities to receive leadership guidance and support from previous VOICE recipients as a new awardee.

In the last year, we have seen our democratic values significantly weakened by political polarization, misinformation and hate crimes. Therefore, this year’s VOICE Initiative focuses on “Protecting our Democratic Freedoms.” VOICE proposals should highlight a particular challenge and explain how potential awardees seek to address this threat to our democratic ideals. Below are some examples of how that might be done.

  • Engage in research and/or activities that promote personal freedoms and participation in democracy;
  • Deliver programming that addresses challenges in our current national life or discourse around past and upcoming elections;
  • Enable conversations about peoples’ experiences and perspectives of vital social and political issues;
  • Create forums for discussion about democratic processes such as legislative advocacy or voting rights as they relate to our social and political community;
  • Offer workshops and/or symposia that focus on furthering democratic literacy and engagement.

Creativity and originality are encouraged. For inspiration, take a look at the terrific work of the 2022 VOICE Initiative awardees. (2022-2023 class are still working on their projects).

VOICE awards can be up to $5,000, and will be granted on a competitive basis. One of our goals is to award funding to individuals/groups from each of the 10 UC campuses. The Center will fund the VOICE awards; recipients will administer awarded projects in compliance with both UC policies and campus-specific guidance on the campus(es) where the projects take place.

Who is Eligible?

All current UC students, staff and faculty are eligible to receive VOICE funding as individuals or as members of a group, team, office or department. There is no limit on the number of individuals that can be included in a single proposal. The primary contact or author of the proposal must partner with a department on their campus or have a recharge account to receive funds.

At least one person representing each selected project must be available to attend quarterly VOICE cohort (virtual) meetings. Participation in these events serves to further community-building, knowledge-sharing and network development both within and across cohorts of VOICE awardees.

Application Information
Applications must be received by 11:59 pm PT on Friday, April 28, 2023. Awardees will be notified by June 15, 2023. Funding is one-time only and must be used by June 1, 2024.  Funds must be transferable to a department recharge account. If you are not part of a department or registered student organization, you will need to identify an on-campus sponsor through which funds can be disbursed.
If anyone has questions, they should reach out to

(Application questions marked with an * are required.)

UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement