USHLI's Project SED Will Spark a New Generation of Voters

Rebecca Villaneda

Dec 14, 2011

The United States Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI) today launched Project SED (Students for an Educated Democracy), which aims to generate a new generation of voters.

Project SED already is offered to high school students, but in this new phase, students will learn civic education via social media.

Dr. Juan Andrade

Dr. Juan Andrade

"Now, students everywhere will be able to become involved in the democratic process through Project SED, which includes an instructional curriculum, a mock election and the option to register to vote," said USHLI President Juan Andrade Jr. "This is arguably the most challenging, exciting and innovative initiative I have been involved in, in my 40 years of promoting civic education and participation.

"While USHLI will continue registering voters in more traditional ways, we are mindful of the fact that with an estimated 50,000 Latinos turning 18 years of age every month we must learn to utilize technology to create ways to effectively reach, educate and empower more people in less time," Andrade continued. "To that end, in addition to an interactive curriculum that will make civic education fun and engaging, Project SED incorporates multi social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. We are putting electoral power into the hands of students -- literally -- through mechanisms such as smartphones, cell phones, PDA's and laptop computers."

Likening the project to a "virtual classroom," USHLI aims to reach 1.5 million students in 2012.

Through a partnering with the technology company Plus Three, Project SED is expected to launch in time for the 2012 Iowa Caucusus, scheduled for Jan. 3.

"Yes, we are ambitious," said Juan Proaño, president and co-founder of Plus Three. "Dr. Andrade came to me with a 10-year plan that would benefit the future of the Latino community -- this rarely happens. I am enthusiastic about this project because it's selfless."

Project SED welcomes the participation of nonpartisan groups, the education community and students of all grades and ages, according to a news release.

"This is about community and civic engagement," Andrade said. "Organizations such as the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers agree that we must continue to encourage our youth to become and stay active within their communities, and political engagement is one great way."

USHLI is a Chicago-based national nonprofit tax-exempt organization that was incorporated in 1982. Initially known as the Midwest Voter Registration Education Project, it changed its name in 1996. Its mission is to promote civic engagement, social integration, research, leadership development, redistricting and financial literacy.