FCDC’s Spero Fund, Youth Affairs Leaders Team up for Final 2020 Young-Voter Registration Push

By the Blue View Staff

One of the least known programs in the Fairfax County Democratic Committee’s arsenal is a veritable jewel: the Lilyan and Abe Spero Memorial Fund. Established in 2011 to honor the memories of the lifelong Democratic husband-and-wife team for which it is named, the Fund is dedicated to promoting voter registration of young Democrats in Fairfax County and encouraging them to become regular and active voters. “The Speros were a treasure,” said lifelong Democrat Marlene Blum, who sits on the Spero Fund’s program committee and knew the couple well. “I would need reams of paper to detail all they did for our community and our Party, especially Lilyan, who served as Fairfax County registrar of voting from 1983 to 1987.” As the senior’s Chair, Reese Glassman was charged by Lilyan to make sure the senior’s committee stayed active. Lilyan was the senior’s committee chair for FCDC for many years.

The Fund carries out its mission by providing grants of up to $2,000 to individuals or organizations seeking support for projects consistent with the Fund’s aims. Fund operations are detailed at fairfaxdemocrats.org/about/spero/, where a grant application form is available for download.

We desperately need to mobilize available resources to restore our government in Washington, this year is it. Every incremental Democratic vote will be a testament to the People’s will.

Recognizing the daunting challenge, three elements of the Fairfax Democratic family met virtually last week to consider how to best to support each other to maximize youth engagement. Attending the virtual meeting were: members of the Fund’s policy committee; the newly-installed chair of FCDC’s Youth Affairs committee; and the Teen Caucus Chair of the Virginia Young Democrats.

A collaborative strategy emerged. In addition, the Fund will more aggressively publicize its program the Youth Committee will lend aspiring Spero Fund grantees a hand in proposal-writing; all will redouble efforts to engage Democratic clubs at Fairfax County high schools; and the Fund will expedite grant-application review. The proposal-writing assistance offer is particularly welcome. “Some young people looking to put a proposal together for the first time may find the process intimidating,” said Youth Committee chair Tyler Begley.  “It needn’t be,” he continued. “Our Youth committee – I personally,” he emphasized, “would be delighted to help them navigate the process.”

We already know groups around our County gearing up for the voter registration challenge, and contemplating applying for Spero Fund support. Some examples include: al fresco ice-cream socials aimed at high school and college-age populations – consistent with social-distancing protocols. Others have been inspired by accounts of the recent and innovative ‘voter registration block party’  in nearby Orange County, in which teens played a preponderant role.

Voter registration ends October 13. If you are interested or know someone who may be interested, please email to spero@fairfaxdemocrats.org.

Congressman Gerry Connolly and wife, ‘Smitty’ Smith, together with ‘Young Democrats’ student leaders from Fairfax County high schools, at Spero Fund reception in February, 2020.