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The UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement is pleased to share the application for the 2022 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 how the fundamental democratic and academic principles of free speech and civic engagement enrich the discovery and transmission of knowledge in higher education.

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. 

After being physically apart from our campus communities and one another for so long, this year’s VOICE Initiative focuses on “Building Community.” VOICE proposals should identify the community/ies they are designed to impact and explain how potential awardees aim to build and empower them. Below are some examples of how that might be done.

  • Engage in research and/or activities that promote free and open discourse among members of communities and between communities;
  • Deliver programming that addresses challenges in our current national life as it has been altered by political upheaval and/or the pandemic; or that examines how we might strengthen and rebuild – or even reimagine – community;
  • 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 civic literacy and engagement within the context of community.

Creativity and originality are encouraged. For inspiration, take a look at the terrific work of the 2020 and 2021 VOICE Initiative awardees.

VOICE awards can be up to $5,000, and will be granted on a competitive basis. One of our goals 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 fourth annual #SpeechMatters (virtual) conference on April 6-7 as well as 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 Monday, November 29, 2021.

Awardees will be notified by Friday, January 7, 2022.

Funding is one-time only and must be used by July 1, 2022.

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 FreeSpeechCenter@uci.edu


(Application questions marked with an * are required.)

We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.