It is hard not to feel anxious about what is to come. For many, the future will be shaped by the final outcome of this presidential election. No matter one’s party affiliation or whom you voted for, one thing holds true for all of us: this election season has been fraught, and has tested the basic tenets of our democracy. Judging from what we have witnessed so far, any result will likely bring some level of discord. The severity of what that means remains to be seen, but I will continue to hold out hope for a peaceful concession. As we await the results, we must all hope that this election was conducted fairly and to the highest values of our democracy.
In times like these, I have to remind myself that there is so much to be grateful for. I marvel at the determination, activism and generosity from our community as I reflect on all of the work that has been done to bring us to this moment. I am thankful to our many community partners that poured their resources and energies into amplifying civic engagement efforts and ensuring that all members of our communities have a voice in our democracy. The national voter turnout rate surged to an estimated 66.8%, a record high since 1990. Our local San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties surpassed their 2010 Census response rates this year. Our donors have given more than $500 million to support civic engagement organizations over the past three years. These efforts are a testament to a more engaged community and to the hard work of so many. In a year that has tested us like no other, we have all demonstrated our commitment to upholding a fair and inclusive democracy.
We are closely following the election results, and through it all, SVCF remains committed to our communities. Right now, SVCF is launching the Community Catalyst Fund, additional civic engagement grants program that will support local organizations and their post-election work, like holding information sessions and organizing virtual events for the community. Grants will also support longer-term efforts such as coalition building, policy advocacy and relational organizing. We will begin accepting grant applications via our website within the next couple of weeks. And, depending on the outcomes of the elections, we may need to pivot and engage different or additional resources in order to best support our community partners.
On top of all of this, we are still living through a pandemic where many of our neighbors are continuing to fight for their lives and livelihoods. As COVID cases surge and with no federal relief package in sight, we face threats of further disruption to our economy. Those who have been hit the hardest -- low-income families, low-wage workers, communities of color and undocumented immigrants -- will continue to disproportionately shoulder the burdens of the crisis. And with eviction moratoriums expiring, tens of thousands of families across the Bay Area could face homelessness in the upcoming months. Our long-term priority is advocating for federal relief for our communities and exploring what this means for those we serve, and how philanthropy can step in to help fill the needs.
No matter the outcome of this election, we must remember that our country has operated on a long and dark history of racism and systemic injustice, and that no one president can fix that. In order to dismantle an unjust system, we need to continue our engagement beyond this election and electoral politics. We need to exercise our voices at the state and local levels to advocate for improved policies and community leadership in the years ahead.
The political theorist Alexis De Tocqueville wrote, “The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.” Even though the results are beyond our control now, we have a choice to make. We can worry about plausible scenarios and feel defeated. Or, we can remain resolute in repairing our faults in order to create a country that embodies equity and justice for all. Which will you choose? SVCF invites you to join us in working towards a country that truly is about justice for all.
President & CEO