NEWARK, NJ — Newark-based social justice advocacy group, Project Ready, announced on Monday that a citywide initiative aimed to encourage voter participation in the upcoming Newark Public Schools District Board of Education election reached 10,000 commitments. 

The non-partisan voter turnout operation reached a significant amount of participants to vote in tomorrow’s election which has traditionally resulted in 7,000 to 8,000 participants. For several months, Project Ready spearheaded an effort to inform and educate Newark residents on the importance of voting in local school board elections.

As this year's election finds eight candidates vying for four seats, Project Ready Chief of Staff Nayibe Capellan said a lot is at stake with students returning to schools in the middle of a pandemic. 

Sign Up for Newark Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

"Our children need us. They can't vote, so [residents] need to be able to vote for them," Capellan told TAPinto Newark.

With off-cycle elections having a historically low voter turnout, Capellan explained that the organization stepped up its efforts this year, digitally.

Although the group had traditionally canvased on foot in the past, the pandemic forced them to approach alternative methods to reach residents such as phone banking, text messaging, direct mail, and even commissioned artwork to spur action.

In total, Project Ready’s grassroots organization made 30,000 phone calls and sent 7,000 text messages to a targeted network of Newark voters.

"It's about getting the word out," the chief of staff said. "We know that school board elections have lower turnouts, so maybe people don't understand why school boards are so critical. We spent a lot of time informing communities about the functions of a school board and why they should go vote."

By getting the word out, the organization reported that of the 10,232 commitments to vote, 71% are from women and 54% from voters aged 25 to 54.

In the November 2020 General Election, more than 63% of Project Ready members voted, compared to a city-wide turnout of about 50%.

For more information about election day such as polling locations and times, visit TAPinto Newark's post here

For more information about each of the school board candidates running on this year's ballot, visit TAPinto Newark's "Meet the Candidates" article here