ATLANTA — Today, August 6th, 2021, on the 56th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, Rock the Vote, AMB Sports and Entertainment, Atlanta Public Schools, and the New Georgia Project are announcing that they are teaming up to launch Democracy Class Atlanta.
Democracy Class Atlanta is a first of its kind effort that leverages the power of professional sports teams and entertainment venues to provide students with information and resources to engage and celebrate the civic process. The new initiative builds on existing partnerships and campaigns between Rock the Vote and the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United, and New Georgia Project and the Good Trouble campaign launched by Atlanta Public Schools during 2020.
"We are excited to continue these partnerships leveraging some of young people's most trusted messengers, athletes and teachers, to celebrate civic education and participation," said Rock the Vote President and Executive Director Carolyn DeWitt. "This is just the beginning; we hope to build on this work here in Atlanta and take this model nationwide to empower young people across the country."
Beginning yesterday, which was the first day of school for students in Atlanta Public Schools, and continuing through National Voter Registration Day on September 28th, two Democracy Class lesson plans on the history of voting and the importance of local government will be taught to 11th and 12th graders across 10 Atlanta public high schools.
Upon the announcement of Democracy Class Atlanta, Arthur M. Blank, chairman, AMB Sports and Entertainment, said, “every voice and every vote matters, and the right to vote is simply sacred. By leveraging our voices and our collection of assets at the Blank Family of Businesses, we are committed to educating, inspiring and celebrating a culture of year-round civic participation, especially among our young people, who are the promise of our future.”
With an aim of teaching 2,000 students and inspiring them to take civic action, Democracy Class Atlanta will be rolled out as the city of Atlanta prepares for upcoming municipal elections underscoring that there truly is “no offseason for democracy.”
“On behalf of Atlanta Public Schools, I am thrilled that Democracy Class Atlanta will continue to be a part of our student experience. Educating high school students about the importance of voting and engaging them in civics and the democratic process are invaluable steps in preparing them for college, career, and life, which is the heart of our APS mission,” said Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring.
Jason Esteves, the board chair of the Atlanta Board of Education added, “APS students live in the cradle of the civil rights movement, and there is no better way to carry on that legacy than for our students to help launch Democracy Class Atlanta. Because of this program, APS student leaders will lead an effort to educate, empower, and organize our students to engage in the democratic process. I appreciate the partnership with Rock the Vote, and AMB Sports and Entertainment and look forward to seeing how our students energize their classmates and strengthen civic engagement across Atlanta.”
Democracy Class Atlanta will culminate with a major celebratory event in the Home Depot Backyard at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on National Voter Registration Day, Tuesday, September 28. Throughout the event, which is expected to bring together 11th and 12th grade Atlanta public high school students, Atlanta’s professional athletes, musicians, and other notable figures, young people will be encouraged to take civic action, such as registering or pre-registering to vote, signing up to be a poll worker, pledging to talk with their families about voting, and/or signing up to volunteer.
“We are incredibly proud to join this effort with our partners in action to educate and inform our youngest voters and soon-to-be voters in Atlanta,” said Kendra Cotton, the COO of New Georgia Project. “In 2020, Georgia made history by activating a diverse coalition of both voters of color and first-time voters. Inviting our youngest generation to be active participants in the civic process is a necessary step to not only ensuring that we are training up the state’s next generation of progressive champions, but also reaffirms our commitment to uplifting the voices of all Georgians.”
Ten students were selected to serve as members of an Atlanta Youth Civic Advisory Council to ensure youth are represented in all aspects of this new, pilot program. Student leaders will participate in workshops and training, follow-up with their respective schools on implementation progress, weigh in on curriculum and assist with planning and executing the event, and evaluating the program.