ABOUT us

What is the SLSV Coalition?

The Students Learn Students Vote (SLSV) Coalition is the national hub and largest nonpartisan network in the United States dedicated to increasing college student voter participation.

We convene and connect partners, campuses, and students with each other and with resources and programming towards achieving our vision of ensuring that every student has easy and equal access to participate in every election. We use data, relationships, celebration, and easy-to-follow planning structures, to help campus and local leaders register and turnout more student voters every year. 

Our theory of change is rooted in institutionalizing nonpartisan voter engagement within campus cultures and processes. By connecting and supporting local campus leaders with the resources, tools, and knowledge they need to build a diverse coalition, analyze student voting data, strategically plan, and embed voter registration, voter education, and voter mobilization into existing campuses processes, we believe voter engagement can become an integral part of the campus culture. 

Our History

In February 2016, a founding group of non-profit organizations realized that colleges and universities were consistently noncompliant with federal guidance provided in the Higher Education Act around voter registration efforts on campuses. When we delved deeper into the issue we realized that many campuses either didn’t know they were non compliant or didn’t fully grasp the unique opportunity they had to empower their students. 

In response, the Coalition came together to design and advance a shared agenda around student voting and political learning in higher education, using colleges and universities as linchpins in young people’s journey into adulthood and to becoming civically involved. 
 
Since then, the SLSV Coalition has grown to over 400 partners including non-profits, government entities, businesses, and student groups, working with almost 2,000 campuses in all 50 states. We have expanded our mobilizations but maintain a focus on collaborative solution building guided by local and campus leaders. The SLSV Coalition was incubated by the nonprofit Young Invincibles and is now a project of the National Conference on Citizenship, a congressionally chartered nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening civic life in America.
 
 

Our Mission

The Students Learn Students Vote Coalition fosters connections and provides year-round support to campus, nonprofit, community, student, and philanthropic leaders working to build a more representative and equitable democracy by increasing college student voter participation and engagement in our democratic processes. 

Our Vision

Every college student has easy and equal access to participate in every election, facilitated and encouraged by their institutions of higher education. 

Our Guiding Principles

Contributing to an Equitable Democracy

For us, building an equitable democracy begins with supporting campuses equitably. We focus on understanding the specific needs of each campus and providing them with the resources they need to meet their version of success. This approach shows up tangibly in the places we redirect funding to with community colleges and Minority Serving Institutions always being our top priority and by making sure that underrepresented students have the access and power to confidently participate in our democracy.

Removing Barriers and Increasing Access

We believe that in order to realize full student voter participation, campuses must remove physical and psychological barriers that students face in voting and change systems to ensure that all students have equitable access to the democratic process. This shows up in our work by supporting campuses in placing and protecting on-campus voting locations, helping lead a nonpartisan digital voter education campaign through National Voter Education Week, creating comprehensive campus voting plans that incorporate strategies for reaching all students, and/or integrating processes to engage students as voters through existing systems that they take part in every day, such as campus orientations, class registrations, etc.

Centering and Trusting Local Leaders

We understand there is no one-size-fits-all approach to registering and turning out students to vote. Local leaders know the distinct challenges and resources of their campus communities best and implement solutions most helpful to their specific contexts. Instead of erasing the work and vision of local leaders, as we see happen all too often, we center local leaders in our work by trusting, supporting, and celebrating their knowledge and enthusiasm to create real change in their communities. To that end, the governing bodies that set our strategic direction, annual goals, and direct our funding priorities, the SLSV Executive Committee and SLSV Advisory Board, are made up of local leaders from across the country.

Committing to Racial Justice

We know that it’s not enough to simply claim we’re not racist; we must actively be anti-racist. Alongside and contradictory to a representative democracy, white supremacy, anti-blackness, and xenophobia is woven into the very fabric of our nation. Recognizing this, we purposefully incorporate a racial justice lens throughout our work to ensure students of all races and ethnicities are welcomed and actively encouraged to participate in our democracy. From creating content that helps achieve voter parity across racial and ethnic groups to subsidizing efforts that lead to the diversification of leadership across campus and community civic engagement spaces, our work advances anti-racist ideas, actions, policies, and systems.

Investing in Institutionalization

We know there isn’t an “off” year from elections. Collectively, we believe that student voter engagement requires consistency and accountability, every academic year. Utilizing the SLSV Checklist as our model for institutionalization, a sustainable commitment to this work is achieved when campuses: designate a leader; build a diverse, equitable coalition; make data-informed decisions; develop and implement a plan; and continually assess and iterate their work. Impacting change and graduating students into voters won’t happen in just one election cycle; it takes a committed, ongoing effort.

Leading through Nonpartisanship

We understand that participating in the democratic process is not political, it’s constitutional. We're not about partisan politics or turning out potential voters for one party only; we focus our time and energy on supporting all voters, unconditionally. Nonpartisanship allows us to build the strongest relationships possible with community organizations and higher education institutions who are striving to improve voter access and to create opportunities for students to participate in the democratic process. We’re working to achieve full participation because we envision a democracy that is truly of all people, by all people, and for all people.

Making Democracy Fun and Celebratory

We believe that participating in our democracy should be celebrated. Voting is an important act involving community, fun, and togetherness. That’s why we support campuses in hosting events that celebrate voting and encourage college students to participate in the democratic process. Whether it’s around major holidays such as National Voter Registration Day, National Voter Education Week, and Vote Early Day, or just randomly throughout the year, we help campuses make voting and democratic engagement fun.

Collaborating for Greater Impact

We know that there is power in numbers. As a coalition, we believe in rising together, giving credit where credit is due, and letting the voices, needs, and lived experiences of communities guide our solution building. As such, we make all of our resources available to every partner, value all members’ viewpoints and contributions equitably in our decision making, and provide a national platform to brainstorm, troubleshoot, and share ideas to advance our collective work.

Advancing Student Success & Retention

We believe that democratic engagement - especially when institutionalized and student driven - can positively impact students’ learning and overall college experience. Leading research in the higher ed field shows that there is a direct correlation between student success, retention, and student engagement. Engaged learning practices - across both the curricular and co-curricular settings - deepen students’ connection to campus. That’s why we support faculty efforts to bring student voter engagement into the classroom, administrators’ work to make student voter engagement a pervasive part of campus culture, and students’ ability to facilitate peer-to-peer engagement.