RISE launches voter registration campaign for pro athletes

September 25, 2017

Guest speaker Martin Luther King III of the Drum Major Institute talks with players from the Atlanta Falcons on Tuesday, Aug. 29, at a RISE to Vote session.

The Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) will lead a yearlong national campaign, RISE to Vote, to register professional athletes to vote and encourage them to spread the important message of voting to their fans.

RISE to Vote’s launch coincides with National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday, Sept. 26, and the nonpartisan campaign aims to register as many professional athletes as possible by the next National Voter Registration Day – Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018.

“At RISE, we empower professional athletes to be solution-oriented advocates for change to improve race relations and drive social progress,” said Jocelyn Benson, RISE CEO. “Athletes have proven their ability to unite people of different backgrounds around these important causes and have shown their willingness to take action to create positive change in their communities. Registering to vote and being an engaged citizen is an essential component of seeking social change. Through RISE to Vote, we are providing those athletes who may not be registered with an opportunity to demonstrate the importance of being an informed and engaged citizen. We envision this movement beginning with professional athletes and growing to one that involves team personnel, fans and student-athletes who follow in the steps of their role models.”

RISE to Vote began in June as a pilot project. To date, voter-registration drives have been completed with teams including the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins and the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets. Today, Monday, Sept. 25, the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks are participating in RISE to Vote.

“It’s a good initiation for the guys to try to use their platform,” Nets forward Quincy Acy told The Washington Post for a story Sunday, Sept. 24, about RISE to Vote. “We take for granted our right to vote and what our people in the past went through just to fight for the ability to vote. … [I’m] just hoping it spreads like a wildfire.”

The yearlong RISE to Vote campaign will involve teams from numerous leagues.

RISE partners with state and local election officials and nonpartisan organizations with expertise in leading and executing successful voter registration drives to amplify the effort and ensure its effectiveness. Those organizations have included The Andrew Goodman Foundation and The New Georgia Project.

As part of a RISE to Vote session, RISE secures special guest speakers and experts to speak with athletes about the significance of their engagement in democracy.

Martin Luther King III of the Drum Major Institute addressed the Dolphins, Falcons and Nets at their RISE to Vote sessions.

“Voting is more than just your right; it is your voice, your participation in our democracy and your contribution to a civil society. It is your chance to make a better world,” King said. “As my father often stated, ‘A vote-less people is a powerless people.’ And the most important step that we can take is that short step to the ballot box. Please register to vote.”

Founded in 2015 by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross, RISE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to harnessing the unifying power of sports to improve race relations and drive social progress. Through educational programming and public awareness campaigns, RISE aims to bring people together to promote understanding, respect and equality.

For more information about RISE to Vote, visit www.RISEtoWIN.org/RISEtoVote.

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