The NYU Democracy Project


In the ongoing fight for our democracy, the NYU Democracy Project exists to:

1. Fund pro-democracy fellowships for students to work in nonpartisan organizations.

2. Mobilize the broader NYU community around civic action and connect volunteers with voting rights, voter engagement and get-out-the-vote (GOTV) opportunities. 

About the NYU Democracy Project

The NYU Democracy Project began in 2019 with the VOTE2020 Initiative, a project aimed at increasing voter engagement in the 2020 election both on NYU's campus and nationwide. Since then, the Project has continued funding student fellowships to expand the reach of non-partisan organizations working to strengthen our democracy. The Project also serves to connect NYU students to volunteer opportunities, sponsor voter engagement events, and foster community-building and professional development.

The NYU Democracy Project is led by Wagner Faculty members Professor Erica Foldy and Professor John Gershman

Check out our factsheet to learn more about program activities and engagement. 


The NYU Democracy Project offers two funded fellowships: LEAD Fellowships (open to all continuing and graduating NYU students, both undergraduate and graduate level) and Parke Fellowships (only for continuing and graduating graduate-level NYU students).



LEAD Fellowships
Open to all continuing and graduating NYU students, the LEAD Fellowship helps connect students with non-partisan organizations dedicated to promoting voter access and democracy across the United States. LEAD Fellows receive a generous stipend—$10,000 for masters students and $6,000 for undergraduates—to support their professional development and hands-on work with non-partisan groups. At a pivotal time for voting rights, the NYU Democracy Project's LEAD Fellowship empowers students to make a tangible impact and join the vital effort to ensure a democratic system that works for everyone.

The application for 2024 LEAD Fellowship is CLOSED. For updates on the next application cycle, please subscribe to our mailing list.

Questions? Email us at



Parke Fellowships
The Parke Fellowship at the Brennan Center for Justice, the pre-eminent voting rights think tank in the country, is 10-week summer program is open to NYU masters students with quantitative and analytical skills who have an interest in voting rights and social justice. 

The application for 2024 Parke Fellowship is CLOSED. For updates on the next application cycle, please subscribe to our mailing list.

Questions? Email us at




Individual Volunteering: 

Group Volunteering: 

The NYU Democracy Project sponsors regular civic engagement work, like get-out-the-vote canvassing and letter-writing parties in partnership with non-partisan, grassroots organizations. Please subscribe to our mailing list for updates on future opportunities and events.

Democracy Cohort

The NYU Democracy Project Cohort comprises LEAD and Parke Fellows, recipients of the Ellen Schall Experience Fund, as well as other NYU students working or volunteering in pro-democracy organizations or campaigns. In addition to experience gained on the job, the Cohort features ongoing programming facilitated by NYU faculty to enrich what students learn in the field and promote professional development. Programming includes guest speakers, civic engagement opportunities, and facilitated group reflection and community-building.


Other fellowships opportunities: 

Already working in one of these capacities? Reach out to us at about joining the Democracy Cohort. 


person standing at ballot box

7 Facts About Voting — and Myths Being Spread About Them

"Our elections are secure and trustworthy, but rumors and lies on social media abound." 

Parke Fellow Hanna Johnson co-authors blog post on analysis of social media posts containing false narratives around the election and voting. 

vote here sign with voting line

The Impact of Restrictive Voting Legislation

"Reports from across the nation reveal that new legislation will disproportionately suppress voters from marginalized groups."

Parke Fellows Zoe Merriman and Coryn Grange co-author a Brennan Center resource that explains the impact of new legislation on voter suppression. 

Partisan bias in legislative maps

California knows how to avoid partisan gerrymandering

"In this article we explain that there is a solution to this once-a-decade nationwide battle: California’s model of an independent citizen redistricting commission."

Parke Fellow Anna Harris co-authors blog post on solutions to redistricting. Read above in SCOCAblog, a joint project of Berkeley Law's California Constituion Center and the Hastings Law Journal. 

A lone voter fills out a ballot alongside a row of empty booths at a polling station in Cincinnati on Nov. 8, 2016. (John Minchillo/AP)

Sen. Manchin’s Freedom to Vote Act would help stop gerrymandering, our research finds

"We examined new district maps, and found that those drawn by independent commissions would be most likely to pass the Manchin test."

Parke Fellow Anna Harris co-authors op-ed for the Washington Post based on her research with the Brennan Center for Justice's Redistricting Program.

Justin Sullivan/Getty

Large Racial Turnout Gap Persisted in 2020 Election

"70.9 percent of white voters cast ballots compared with only 58.4 percent of nonwhite voters — a disparity that will worsen with new restrictive voting laws." 

Parke Fellow Coryn Grange co-authors Brennan Center analysis on research on racial disparities in voter turnout. 

The Washington Post/Getty

Racial Turnout Gap Grew in Jurisdictions Previously Covered by the Voting Rights Act

"Between 2012 and 2020, the white-Black turnout gap grew between 9.2 and 20.9 percentage points across five of the six states originally covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act."

Parke Fellow Coryn Grange co-authors Brennan Center resource on analysis of racial disparities in voting and implications of changes to key voting legislation. 


labcast podcast art

By the People for the People: the Vote 2020 Initiative

"As the consequential elections of 2020 approached, NYU professors Erica Foldy and John Gershman began asking these questions—and the VOTE 2020 Fellowship was their answer. 'By the People, For the People' tells the story of this experimental initiative, and examines what happens when everyday people, like Erica, John, and their students at NYU, take ownership of their democracy."

A student-made podcast tells the store of what inspired the VOTE2020 Initiative, and how it grew into the NYU Democracy Project.