Time and time again, BakerRipley has prioritized Co-Creating with Community, one of the Alliance’s Commitments of High-Impact Nonprofit Organizations, by building upon its strong relationships and partnerships in the community to accelerate effective and comprehensive support services for voters. They have trained over 200 community members in the organization’s Community Engineers Leadership Program, where leaders create goals for engagement in their neighborhood and with elected officials. As a result, BakerRipley executed impressive get out the vote efforts in 2016 and 2018. The team made 8,541 phone calls, knocked on 5,870 doors, and registered 839 new voters in 2018 alone. Through its services and programs, BakerRipley already had strong relationships with local school districts and worked with principals to ensure that 18+ youth were informed and registered to vote. They also partnered with the League of Women Voters for Spanish and Vietnamese translation services.
In 2017, BakerRipley used an appreciative inquiry approach and their strong ties in the community to put together a study that shed light on voting patterns and challenges in the local population. Through focus groups and surveys, they collected information from 46 participants from six neighborhoods in the organization’s service area. The findings revealed factors that influence voter decisions, barriers that discourage participation, as well as suggested solutions to increase engagement. Participants frequently brought up lack of information as an obstacle to voting, be it information on the candidates or the logistics behind voting, like location, day, or time. They also cited language barriers, lack of transportation, and work schedules as other reasons for not voting. Solutions that came from the community in the study were framed around information accessibility, addressing logistical barriers, and developing a sense of connection. Participants expressed that relationships were key to increasing likelihood to vote. If they felt like candidates were attempting to build a relationship with them, rather than just get their vote, they would be much more likely to vote. One of the strongest recommendations of BakerRipley’s report was to help build small, local networks of relationships within communities and create ongoing opportunities for candidates and constituents to connect.
The most impressive example of BakerRipley’s ties to the community is its yearly event, Art of the Vote, which connects the community to the political process through art. Using its connections with the local museum and school district, the organization puts on an art show with hundreds of works of art relating to community issues, identity, and civics. Students and community members can share their perspectives in an open, casual setting. Instead of speaking at constituents through debates, political candidates mingle and hold round table conversations with community members on issues raised in the artwork. Art of the Vote is a compelling, creative way to inspire a sense of belonging and engagement and demonstrates how strong relationships with the community can lay a foundation for increased civic participation and co-creation.
BakerRipley’s impact is targeted towards strengthening community engagement, improving financial well-being, and increasing educational attainment in every community they serve. BakerRipley provides a wide range of community-based programs that benefit youth, families, and seniors. Their mission is to bring resources, education, and connection to emerging neighborhoods.