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- by  Abby Weingarten

Year after year, New College students garner national accolades for their civic engagement. For 2021, the College just earned the “Highest Voter Registration” and “Highest Voter Turnout” awards, as well as a platinum seal, from the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge.

At 2 p.m. Tues. Nov. 9, the nonprofit organization will officially honor New College during its third biennial Florida Campus Voting Challenge Awards Ceremony. ALL IN recognizes higher education institutions, educators and students who increased voter engagement in the 2020 elections.

“I’m so happy and proud of New College. I’m grateful that our efforts are being recognized on a national scale,” said Jada McNeill, the assistant director of New College’s Office of Student Activities & Campus Engagement (SA[u]CE). “I’m also appreciative of the Athena Progressive Giving Circle and Ask Every Student organizations for providing grant funds to help our voting efforts in 2020.”

Despite the hurdles of the COVID-19 pandemic that led most students to learn virtually in 2020, McNeill and the SA[u]CE team ensured that students could effectively cast their ballots. The 2020 presidential election engaged the largest and most diverse group of college students in United States history, and more than 840 institutions (enrolling close to nine million students) participated in the ALL IN Challenge.

The 2020 election cycle saw unprecedented voter registration and turnout among college students, according to the recent National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement (NSLVE) from the Institute for Democracy in Higher Education (IDHE). The IDHE reported that 66 percent of college students voted in the 2020 election—a 14-point increase from 2016. Data from the IDHE showed that New College’s voting rate increased to 82.1 percent in 2020 from 74.6 percent in 2016.

“The rise in voter participation and engagement for college students in last year’s presidential election, amidst a global pandemic, was tremendous and will undoubtedly be tied to the tireless efforts of the dedicated students, faculty, administrators and partner organizations that are part of the ALL IN Challenge network,” said Jen Domagal-Goldman, the executive director of the ALL IN Challenge. “The hard work of these trailblazing honorees will help support many of the country’s future leaders in fulfilling the equitable, engaged vision of democracy to which we aspire.”

This is the overall vision of the ALL IN Challenge—to create a more inclusive democracy. The organization believes that higher education plays a role in graduating students into voters, and in closing electoral participation gaps that persist by race and age. ALL IN strengthens college and university efforts to improve civic learning, political engagement and voter participation, ensuring that students are registered to vote and participate in all elections.

And this year is not the first time that ALL In has recognized New College. In 2018, nearly two-thirds of New College students voted, and the College earned a platinum seal from ALL IN for achieving a student voting rate above 50 percent (as well as three “Best in Class Awards” for the highest voting rate among all participating small, public, four-year institutions).

To continue encouraging high student voter turnout at New College, McNeill and the SA[u]CE office staff created a Voting Information Center, and they launched the NCF VOTE voter engagement initiative last year. But there is much more to follow.

“Big shout-out to our students for registering and showing up to vote,” McNeill said. “Let’s continue to keep up the great work and prepare for the midterm elections next year.”

For more information on New College’s voting resources, visit

To learn more about the ALL In awards ceremony, visit

Abby Weingarten is the senior editor in the Office of Communications & Marketing.