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The UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement is pleased to share the application for the 2020-2021 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 mission of the Center.  

Mission:  Free and open discourse is essential to the mission of higher education. The Center explores how the fundamental democratic and academic principles of free speech and civic engagement should enrich the discovery and transmission of knowledge in America’s colleges and universities. Through research, advocacy, debate and discussion, the Center is dedicated to ensuring that the next generation of leaders is prepared to understand, defend and advance these values.

This year, the Center’s VOICE Initiative focuses on the theme of “Breaking Barriers.” VOICE funded programs, activities and research should identify barriers, steps that can be taken to address those barriers and how those steps help to build community. This might include tackling projects that:

  • 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;
  • Advance programs that work towards deliberation and civic engagement;
  • Offer workshops and/or symposia that focus on building trust and furthering civic literacy;
  • Deliver programming and/or create curricula that address pressing social issues;
  • Develop collaborations that address issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Creativity and originality are encouraged. For inspiration, take a look at the terrific work of the first class of VOICE Initiative awardees.

VOICE awards can be up to $5,000, and will be granted on a competitive basis. One goal is to award grants to individuals/groups from each of the 10 UC campuses. The Center will fund the VOICE awards; grant 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 or have a recharge account to receive funds.

At least one person representing each selected project must be available to attend the Center’s third annual #SpeechMatters (virtual) conference this spring as well as quarterly VOICE cohort 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 on Friday, January 29, 2021.

Awardees will be notified by Friday, February 19, 2021.

Funding is one-time only and must be used by December 31, 2021.

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.

Questions marked with an * are required.

We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.