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. 

3. Promote voter turnout in the NYU community.

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 within the Democracy Cohort. 

The NYU Democracy Project is a project of SEAD, Wagner Action for Social Justice, Equity, and Democracy, and is led by 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) and Parke Fellowships (only for continuing and graduating Wagner students).

Applications for the summer 2023 Democracy Fellowships are now closed.


Work with the Brennan Center for Justice, one of the most prominent voting rights and pro-democracy think tanks in the country 

The Brennan Center is a nonpartisan law and policy center, and is affiliated with the NYU School of Law. Their mission is to research and advocate for policy reforms targeted at expanding democracy, ensuring fair elections, and ending mass incarceration, among many others. Read more about the Brennan Center for Justice on their website. Applications have closed for Summer 2023 fellowships.

Eligibility: Continuing and recently graduated Wagner students

Duration and funding for Summer Fellowships*:

  • $9625 for 10, 35-hour weeks

What to expect:

  • Fellowships will be placed on one of the 3 following projects:
  • Fellows will have the opportunity to participate in leadership development events.
  • Fellows at this time work virtually, though this is subject to change.
  • Pending approval from placement supervisors, fellows will be permitted to renew their fellowship up to one time.

*Stipend amounts for graduate student workers subject to change with increases to graduate hourly rate. 




Work with one of our many partner organizations doing critical pro-democracy and social justice work through a wide array of voter engagement efforts and strategic advocacy. 

LEAD Fellows will be matched with one of 10+ organizational partners defending democracy at both the grassroots and policy level. See some of our current and past participating organizations below.

Eligibility: All NYU undergraduate and graduate students (including incoming students and graduating students). 

Duration and funding for Fall and Spring Fellowships*:

  • 10-20 hours/week 
  • Stipends (dependent on number of hours/weeks):
    • Graduate:  
      • $6600 for 12, 20-hour weeks
      • $3300 for 12, 10-hour weeks
    • Undergraduate:
      • $3150 for 12, 20-hour weeks
      • $1800 for 12, 10-hour weeks

Duration and funding for Summer Fellowships*:

  • Graduate:  
    • $9625 for 10, 35-hour weeks
  • Undergraduate:
    • $6000 for 10, 35-hour weeks

What to expect:

  • Fellows will work with organizations that support voter registration, voting rights, and GOTV efforts. 
    • Examples of previous organizational placements: Mi Familia Vota, One Fair Wage, Detroit Action, Public Citizen, American Association of People with Disabilities, Headcount, Vote Riders, Protect the Vote Georgia, Environmental Voters Project, Texas Organizing Project, Ohio Organizing Collaborative, and more. 
    • Students can express a preference for an organization in their application, but the NYU Democracy Project cannot guarantee accepted students' placement at their organization of choice, as this will depend on organizational capacity, desired skills, and other variables that shape the matching process. 
  • Fellows will have the opportunity to participate in leadership development events.
  • Fellows may work virtually or on the ground, depending on the partner organization's needs. 
  • Pending approval from placement supervisors, fellows will be permitted to renew their fellowship up to one time. 


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. 

Group of Summer 2023 Cohort

Meet the Fellows:

Read about current and past Democracy Fellows and what motivates their commitment to a more equitable and fair democracy. 

Current Fellows

Previous Cohorts

For more on the VOTE 2020 experience, we also invite you to watch these testimonials from our first cohort. Students share their experiences, key takeaways, and the impacts of the fellowship. 


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.