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This $1.5 million voter project for the 2023 mayoral election hopes to engage every neighborhood in Philadelphia

More than 50 community and media organizations, including The Inquirer, are involved in the project aimed at educating and engaging Philadelphia voters.

The Lenfest Institute's "Every Voice, Every Vote" project will fund up to 51 forums and 162 community events, as well as news coverage related to the 2023 mayor and city council elections.
The Lenfest Institute's "Every Voice, Every Vote" project will fund up to 51 forums and 162 community events, as well as news coverage related to the 2023 mayor and city council elections.Read moreTom Gralish / Staff Photographer

Philadelphia will elect its 100th mayor next year, and a coalition of community groups and media organizations wants to ensure voters are center stage and informed.

“Every Voice, Every Vote” is a $1.5 million investment by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, the owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer, in news coverage and voter engagement projects that launches this week, ahead of Philadelphia’s 2023 elections for mayor and City Council.

More than 50 community and media organizations, including The Inquirer, are involved in the project aimed at educating Philadelphians and also centering their voices and interests in election coverage.

» READ MORE: Who is running for mayor of Philadelphia in 2023?

“The genesis of ‘Every Voice, Every Vote’ is the belief that the 2023 election is one of the most consequential in Philadelphia history,” said Jim Friedlich, executive director and CEO of the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. “The city is at a crossroad, badly in need of new vision and new leadership. Philadelphia both needs and deserves the most comprehensive and inclusive local elections coverage in our history.”

Friedlich said the idea initially came from Shawn McCaney, executive director of the William Penn Foundation, and resulted in conversations with groups around the city, eager to encourage civic engagement.

“Voters, community organizers, and news media all told us the same thing: There is an urgent need to focus election coverage on the issues, not the candidate horse race,” Friedlich said. “As the name suggests, the project is focused on listening to the diverse and often underrepresented voices of all Philadelphians — through town hall meetings, debates, church gatherings, meetings in barbershops, talk radio shows, focus groups, public opinion research, social media engagement, and many other avenues.”

So far, eight people have announced they will run to replace Mayor Jim Kenney, whose term expires in 2024. About 10 have indicated they will vie for seats on City Council, with many more expected to jump in the race. The election could be one of the most consequential in the city’s recent history as it confronts record-high gun violence, ongoing development, the opioid crisis, and questions of how to improve the largest school district in the state. Candidates will likely face questions on more specific issues like the 76ers’ plan to build an arena in Center City.

» READ MORE: The warning sign hidden in Pa. Democrats’ big wins: Philly turnout plummeted

What ‘Every Vote, Every Voice’ will do

The Lenfest Institute, with support from the William Penn Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and others, awarded 52 grants to news media and community organizations to complete a range of projects related to the election, including voter guides translated into 13 languages, listening sessions, debates, and polling and research.

Grants will fund up to 51 forums and 162 community events, many addressing specific communities or topics. The project also has plans for 29 voting guides published across the city, some general and some specific to issues like education or crime. The goal is to engage every neighborhood in the city to make the electoral process and information about voting and candidates more accessible. There are also events specific to Black voters, Asian voters, women, young voters, formerly incarcerated Philadelphians, and the LGBTQ community.

Twenty-five media partners will receive funding through “Every Voice, Every Vote,” and all reporting produced for the project will be free to access and shared on

The Inquirer, which was awarded $100,000, will report on polling commissioned through the project and also develop a series of video interviews with candidates in their home neighborhoods. The Inquirer will also help produce town halls and debates.

“At heart, this is an effort to greatly expand civic participation through a very innovative partnership involving community groups and media outlets,” said Inquirer editor Gabriel Escobar, “That can only be good for the democratic process and democracy itself.”

» READ MORE: The 2023 Philadelphia mayoral race is shifting into high gear

Other news outlets involved include Al Día News, Philadelphia Gay News, the Philadelphia Tribune, Resolve Philly, WURD Radio, WHYY, Billy Penn, 6abc, and NBC10/Telemundo62.

Twenty-seven community groups also received grants. They include the Urban Affairs Coalition, PA Youth Vote, the Committee of Seventy, Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, Congreso de Latinos Unidos, and Philadelphia Parks Alliance.

Will Gonzalez, the executive director of Ceiba, a coalition of Latino community organizations, said that one of Ceiba’s focuses will be on building civic literacy, like teaching community members about election processes and how to sort through disinformation and misinformation.

“We’re a community with a lot of challenges, and we need to make sure that our voice is heard at all levels,” he said. “What we’re looking to do is increase awareness and civic engagement ... and then to [help] folk share what they learn with others, and hopefully [create] an infectious information-sharing platform.”

PA Youth Vote will educate youth about how elected officials and policies affect their lives.

“The reality is, [young people are] not voting [consistently] because they’re not being taught the importance of voting,” said Youth Vote executive director Angelique Hinton. “They’re not voting because they’re not being taught how policy drives every single thing that impacts them on a day-to-day basis,” she said. “Young people have a lot of issues that they really care about. They’re not apathetic at all. They’re just not engaged.”

Coverage and events related to the project will begin in early 2023, but the Lenfest Institute has already conducted a large focus group with Temple University’s Institute for Survey Research.

The most top issues discussed in the group were crime and safety, schools, affordable housing and homelessness, employment, and a sense of a lack of community.

More information about the “Every Voice, Every Vote” project can be found at