Desmond Meade to Receive $625,000 as MacArthur Genius Grant Winner

In Summary

The $625,000 stipend will be paid out in equal quarterly installments over five years. It will help Meade and other recipients advance their work. 

The work of Desmond Meade has received a genius grant of $625,000.  

The MacArthur Fellowship, or “Genius Grant,” was awarded to Meade for spearheading the cause to restore the vote to formerly incarcerated people in Florida. The award is gifted to “extraordinarily talented and creative individuals as an investment in their potential.”  

Meade, a civil rights activist, received assistance from the president and executive director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition to amend the Florida constitution to restore voting rights for residents with felonies.  

The $625,000 stipend will be paid out in equal quarterly installments over five years. It will help Meade and other recipients advance their work. It does not fund a specific project. The recipient was granted the funds off of three criteria: exceptional creativity, a track record of significant accomplishments, and potential for the grant to enable future creative work. 

RelatedMacArthur Foundation Announces 2021 Recipients of $625 K’ Genius’ Grants  

Amendment 4 in Florida led to the largest addition to the country’s voting population in 50 years. The amendment was designed to automatically restore the right to vote for people with prior felony convictions, except those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense, upon completion of their sentences.   

Meade also championed efforts that led to the Republican legislature requiring legal fines and fees connected with a person’s conviction to be paid before voting rights are restored. This measure led to 774,000 of the estimated 1.4 million felons regaining their right to vote after losing it because of their debt.  

The Genius Grant recipient has raised millions of dollars to pay off the debts of formerly incarcerated people who want to vote.  

RelatedCourt Ruling Could Allow Formerly Incarcerated Individuals to Vote in NC  

“Despite setbacks, his bold vision for empowering returning citizens through mobilization and education serves as a blueprint for other states to follow,” Meade’s profile reads on the MacArthur Foundation website. “Meade is pushing the nation closer to democracy that better represents the full extent of its citizens.” 

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