December 09, 2022
The Lenfest Institute for Journalism is looking to pay Philadelphians for their perspective on next year's mayoral race.
If you check your mailbox, you may find an envelope addressed to "Philadelphia Resident" with a single dollar bill and a quarter attached to the enclosed letter.
That is no mistake, and yes, the money is real. So what's the catch?
The Lenfest Institute started the Every Voice, Every Vote project with a goal of understanding how people in Philly exercise their civic duties and what issues they prioritize when assessing candidates.
One of the initiatives in this project includes a survey to college information from voters. The letter, delivered to residents, describes the survey and provides a link where it can be completed only. The person who completes it should be at least 18, and the survey asks what the respondent feels are the most important issues that need to be addressed in the city.
Completing the questionnaire nets participants an additional $10 gift card code redeemable at Target, Starbucks, Walmart or Amazon.
"Based on our conversations with our research partners ... there has been research that shows incentives do increase participation," Shawn Mooring, program director at the Lenfest Institute, said in an email on Friday. "Also, we believe that everyone’s time is valuable, and we agree, in principle, with offering a token of support to acknowledge our appreciation for their participation."
The survey, which takes about 15 minutes to complete, asks citizens about the direction the city is going on, as well as the importance of education, affordable housing and providing support services for people who are homeless. It asks about the effectiveness and quality of city services such as street maintenance, trash pickup and public transit, and it goes into detail about crime in the city, asking questions about the root issues, the effectiveness of law enforcement, the relative safety of communities and the best ways to address gun violence, carjacking and theft in the city.
"The Every Voice, Every Vote survey will help us understand how community groups and media organizations can engage Philadelphia's diverse communities and neighborhoods in the electoral process," Mooring wrote in the survey letter.
The Lenfest Institute has pledged $1.5 million to its Every Voice, Every Vote project, which includes a voter engagement coalition.
As the race for the 100th mayor of Philadelphia continues, the coalition aims to listen to the voices of Philadelphians while also informing them about the candidates.
The Inquirer, which the Lenfest Institute owns, reported that a combination of more than 50 community organizations and local media outlets are joining together for this project.
"The genesis of 'Every Voice, Every Vote' is the belief that the 2023 election is one of the most consequential in Philadelphia history," Jim Friedlich, CEO of the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, told the Inquirer. "The city is at a crossroad, badly in need of new vision and new leadership. Philadelphia both needs and deserves the most comprehensive and inclusive local elections coverage in our history."
Lenfest provided grants to community organizations and media that will be used to complete voter guides, polling, listening sessions and debates. There are also plans to hold events that target specific groups such as Black, Asian and women voters. The Lenfest Institute also will hold events targeting voters who have gotten out of prison, young and first-time voters and the LGBTQ community.
"Our work is focused on catalyzing the citizens of Philadelphia, from every neighborhood and community, to lift their voices and determine their own future," Mooring added.