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New York, N.Y. – March 16, 2008 – The Hip-Hop Research and Education Fund, PowerPAC and the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network announced today the launch of an unprecedented, focused national campaign to mobilize the hip-hop generation of youth voters to ensure the largest youth voter turnout in American history on November 4, 2008. The press conference to launch the national “Hip-Hop Team Vote: Turn Up The Vote” campaign will be held in the city of Philadelphia on March 19 at 11am EST on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, Houston Hall (Bodek Lounge) at 3417 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104. In addition, the press conference will announce a statewide youth voter registration effort between March 18 – March 24, the deadline to register voters for the April 22 Pennsylvania primary. Dr. Benjamin Chavis, President/CEO of the Hip-Hop Research and Education Fund, Steve Phillips, Founder and Chairman of PowerPAC and Valeisha Butterfield, Executive Director of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, have joined together to issue a call to millions of 18-35 year olds to participate in the campaign. “Hip-Hop Team Vote: Turn Up The Vote” will utilize a variety of means to reach its target demographic and maximize youth voter registration, including hip-hop radio stations, artists, recording industry street teams, web and pod casts, social networks, blogs and grass roots organizing.

“We decided to draw the line, especially in Pennsylvania, to settle once and for all any question about the sustainability of the impact of the youth vote transforming the American political landscape,” declared HSAN former Chairman, Russell Simmons. “While there’s been much speculation, and in some instances outright denial, of the impact of the youth vote, we know the power and self expression of young people is growing. We want to celebrate that growth and encourage an even greater youth voter turnout.”

Dr. Benjamin Chavis emphasized, “The truth is, four years ago in the last national election, we witnessed the largest youth voter turnout in American history. We know, beyond the shadow of any doubt, the evolution of hip-hop culture helped to create that reality. We are already witnessing now in 2008 how young voters are building and expanding on the foundation laid four years ago. Civic engagement is a part of what it means to be a responsible citizen. And, in defiance of some of the myths about the responsibility of the hip-hop generation, it is in fact a significant testimony that the youth of today are not only rising to the occasion of responsibility, they are taking charge and will make the biggest difference in the outcome of the 2008 presidential election.”

The 18-29 year old segment of the hip-hop generation will be nearly 50 million strong in 2008, making up one third of the electorate. reported that between the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections, youth voter turnout more than doubled.

“The hip-hop generation of this country will make the critical difference in determining the next President of the United States,” declared Valeisha Butterfield. “Through Hip-Hop Team Vote, we have redefined the face and perception of what it is to be a new young voter. As a program created to effectively engage young adults in the political process, Hip-Hop Team Vote has launched the ‘Turn Up The Vote’ campaign to address the issues that directly effect our generation and to ensure that our unified voice is heard loud and clear. As a young woman and professional in the recording industry, I send an open invitation to every young adult in the state of Pennsylvania and throughout America to join our movement.”

Added 22 year old Philadelphia native, Lauren Goodwin, “As a 22 year old, recent college graduate, I recognize that my home state of Pennsylvania has an opportunity to make a tremendous impact on this nation. Although I have been involved in the political process in the past, this is the first election that I have felt truly engaged and connected to the issues. More is at stake than ever before because of the current war in Iraq, disproportionate funding for public education and the economic future of the United States. Pennsylvania, stand up and join me and the millions of other young adults by registering to vote and making our voices heard on April 22!”

“We’re about expanding democracy through support of communities that have been marginalized and underrepresented in the decision-making process,” offers Steve Phillips, founder and chairman of PowerPAC. “Our goal is to build a new base of political activism. This work is not about electing any particular candidate; it is about bringing people into the process.”

“I commend Russell Simmons on his ongoing efforts to energize the youth of this country to exercise their right to vote,” said Michael Steele, Chairman of GOPAC and former Lt. Governor of Maryland. “I am honored to be a part of energizing this exciting base of new voters. This generation of young Americans can transform the political landscape, regardless of party affiliation, simply by taking their seat at the table and making their voices heard through their vote. To these young and new voters, don’t believe the hype: your vote counts!”

The community partners are the United States Student Association and Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN).

Before publicly endorsing Senator Barack Obama recently, Russell Simmons chose to take a leave of absence as Chairman of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network until after the 2008 presidential election, to protect the integrity of the organization. However, he remains an active participant in HSAN events.

About Hip-Hop Research and Education Fund

Founded in 2001, the Hip-Hop Research and Education Fund (HREF) is one of the premier research and public education organizations, dedicated to raising public awareness about social, cultural, political and economic issues important to the hip-hop generation in America and throughout the world. HREF is a non-profit, tax-exempt 501C3 organization, based in New York City.

About PowerPAC

PowerPAC is a nonprofit advocacy and political organization. It was organized to champion democracy and social justice in states and communities across the country. PowerPAC directs financial and human resources to strategic local and state legislative fights, ballot initiatives, and candidate campaigns by organizing donors who are committed to social justice politics. The organization identifies priority areas for investment and helps donors achieve maximum political impact with their political giving. This process includes conducting research and analysis on the political landscape, identifying critical social justice issues and rising star candidates to bring more voters –
particularly voters of color – into the political process. PowerPAC believes that the most effective way to build political power for historically underrepresented constituencies is to invest in long-term political and for structure that can be mobilized for short-term victories.

About Hip-Hop Summit Action Network
Founded in 2001, the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network is dedicated to harnessing the cultural relevance of hip-hop music to serve as a catalyst for education advocacy and other societal concerns fundamental to the well being of at-risk youth throughout the United States. HSAN is the largest non-profit, worldwide coalition of hip-hop artists, entertainment industry leaders, education advocates, civil rights proponents, and youth leaders united in the belief that Hip-Hop is an enormously influential agent for positive social change which must be responsibly and proactively utilized to fight the war on poverty and injustice.

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