Rural Utah Project Education Fund

The Rural Utah Project Education Fund is the 501(c)(3) partner entity of the Rural Utah Project. This entity houses RUP’s nonpartisan civic engagement and addressing work, detailed below. The Rural Utah Project Education Fund does not make endorsements of any candidates. If you are interested in making a contribution to our 501(c)(3), the Rural Utah Project Education Fund, you can make a donation here, or contact our Development Director Kate Steinicke at [email protected] to request more information.

The Addressing Program

Where the streets have no name, the people have no vote.

While registering thousands of voters on the Navajo Nation and in San Juan County, the Rural Utah Project discovered that 21% of Native American voters were registered in the wrong precinct – making it nearly impossible for these voters to cast their ballots for the correct candidate.

The main cause for this discrepancy is the lack of physical addresses on the Navajo Nation – making voter registration difficult but also limiting access to many basic emergency services that other Utahns take for granted. To ensure the voices of Indigenous voters in San Juan County are heard, the Rural Utah Project is partnering with Google to provide plus codes – a short location code just like an address – for every resident on the Utah portion of the Navajo Nation. In the course of this work, RUP has already registered over 1,350 San Juan County voters at plus codes, ensuring they’ll receive the correct ballot in future election cycles.

Our effort will mean Navajo voters will be placed in the correct precincts and that emergency services will be more accessible.

Past Projects

2020 The Rural Arizona Project

Across the country, Indigenous communities are standing up, raising their voices, and voting to bring forth long awaited changes to their communities. At the Rural Utah Project, we’re proud that  Tara Benally, our Field Director who has been with us since the beginning, is leading our organizing program on the Navajo Nation. After years of organizing and relationship building on the Utah portion of the Navajo Nation, Tara worked closely with stakeholders in Arizona to lead our voter registration program onto the Arizona portion of the Navajo Nation. Despite challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Arizona expansion team was able to register over 5,672 voters to get out a critical vote across the Navajo Nation using mail, radio, digital, and drive-through voter registration events. Our team helped demonstrate what voters on the Navajo Nation have always known: that Indigenous voices, votes, and perspectives matter. Additionally, the Rural Arizona Project worked with a team of 12 digital organizers and 133 content creators to create over 383 pieces of unique media in a first-of-its-kind digital organizing program. This program generated nearly 2,000 leads for the field program and reached 2.2 million people.  By investing in people over platforms, the program created content that built infrastructure, shifted narrative, and resonated deeply with our intended audience. You can read the full report about the program here.

2020 Mutual Aid

The world changed when the COVID-19 pandemic forced governments and organizations to do everything possible to slow the spread. Here at the Rural Utah Project, our mission relies on meeting and engaging with people and voters where they are. The social distancing restrictions forced us to pause and rethink. With our staff and volunteers in Bluff Utah, we helped create a mutual aid network for the Bluff Area, the 7 Utah chapters of the Navajo Nation, and the White Mesa Areas called Bluff Area Mutual Aid (BAMA). This effort has focused on the delivery of food and supplies to families in need of aid. We’re proud to work with our partners in Bluff, Utah Navajo Health System, and the Navajo Nation on ensuring this program provides sustainable and direct aid.

Bluff Area Mutual Aid distributed over 900 boxes of food to 3,500 individuals in the Utah portion of the Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute community, and the greater Bluff area. When the needs of the community shifted, BAMA pivoted to deliver through San Juan County school buses and bulk deliveries to chapter houses and deliveries via grassroots Indigenous-led efforts, like The Navajo and Hopi Families COVID 19 Relief Fund, Utah Dine Bikeyah and Protect Diné Mountain Communities. Now, BAMA is working to facilitate bulk deliveries and provide funding directly to chapter houses to enable them to manage the crisis as they best see fit.

2019 The First Nations Voting Rights Conference

The first First Nations Voting Rights Conference held on September 25th – September 27th 2019 was born out of a shared idea between the team at the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission and Rural Utah Project. Pre-conference surveys showed participants arriving from over seventeen states and at least as many Indigenous Nations, with more folks and Nations likely represented at the conference. Participants and panelists represented a wide range of expertise and experience from lawyers, researchers, elected leaders, non-profits, organizers, lawyers, and advocates. Discussion at the conference focused on breaking down barriers to accessing the franchise in Indian Country. Participants reported that a conference focused solely on First Nations Voting Rights is critical and hope to see this kind of event continued.