President Joe Biden this week addressed the nation from Atlanta, a city at the heart of the civil rights movement, painting a dire picture for future elections and American democracy without the passage of key legislation to protect voting rights. That includes the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore anti-discrimination components of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that were stripped away by the Supreme Court in 2013.

The United Philanthropy Forum (UPF) has released a letter of support for the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and urges the United States Senate to prioritize passing this act before the end of the 117th Congress.

The Funders Network’s President & CEO Pat Smith, a UPF board member, has signed on to this letter on behalf of the TFN team. We encourage others in the charitable sector to sign on as well. The letter sign-on is open to foundations, nonprofits and national and state infrastructure organizations.

Below is UPF’s summary of the letter in support of the voting rights act. To read the full text and signatories, and to submit your name to the list of supporters, click here. 

(The deadline to add your name to this letter is Jan. 21, 2022.)

Charitable Sector Letter to Congress in Support of Voting Rights: Summary

Last year, the United States House of Representatives passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The bill, which United Philanthropy Forum has endorsed, now awaits action in the Senate.

Our Public Policy Principles outline a commitment to championing racial equity and strengthening democracy.  Via this commitment, the Forum looks to endorse positive, practical solutions that seek to eliminate economic, social, health, and educational barriers, and replaces them with policies that are fair, just, create equitable opportunities and outcomes, and diminish racial and ethnic disparities. By restoring the protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is a common-sense public policy proposal that will accomplish these goals, and aligns with this commitment by eliminating racial discrimination in the voting process.

As the letter to the Senate states, Congressman Lewis dedicated his life to advancing civil and human rights for all Americans, recognizing injustices when he saw them and calling them out.  So, while this issue may not be front and center in your individual policy agendas, if we are truly committed to racial equity and racial justice, we cannot afford to be silent on this issue. We must call out injustices when we see them, and use our platform to bring positive change.

This should not be a partisan issue, Philanthropy has a long and distinguished record of standing up for voting rights. No matter the issues that funders support, or the regions where they focus their funding, philanthropy cannot do its work successfully without a strong and healthy democracy where everyone has the ability to vote freely and fairly.



The late Rep. John Lewis, civil rights icon.” Photo credit: Mobilus In Mobili is licensed under CC BY-SA