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RegiStart: Registering Youth to Vote
$18,636 raised
62% of $30k goal
140 contributors
54 Days running


In the 2016 election only 46% of young adults cast a ballot. Our team noticed this problem and wanted to change it, so we started RegiStart. Founded in 2019, RegiStart is a non-partisan nonprofit start up with the belief that American democracy works better for everyone when all segments of the population are engaged. From the organization’s earliest days, RegiStart was established as a leading innovator in developing civic curriculum that has immediate real-world impacts. 


RegiStart’s Voter Registration Project is an out-of-the-box high school class project that teachers can integrate into their class curriculum to put on a grassroots, student-led voter registration drive. Utilizing a first-of-its-kind voter registration app, the project allows students to register their peers with unparalleled ease and effectiveness.

Key to RegiStart’s effectiveness is our app, which is used by high school civics students for a project within their class. The app uses an algorithm to generate a customized list of peers for each student to contact and help with the registration process. Using this algorithm, students are able to contact the peers they know best instead of soliciting random peers to vote (a characteristic typical of traditional voter registration programs). When tested in a pilot, this method has been shown to perform 60% better than traditional voter registration programs at registering young people to vote.

The program is non-partisan, encouraging everyone to participate, and is of no cost to the teachers involved.



When a school participates in our voter registration program they are provided with:

  • The RegiStart App - Downloadable for both IOS and Android, our app 1) uses an algorithm to pair students with the classmates they know best and 2) provides step-by-step guidance on how to persuade peers to get registered.
  • Voter Registration Lesson Plan Our lesson plan provides teachers with content to teach students the fundamentals of persuasion and grassroots organizing in addition to the voter registration laws of their state. Additionally, all content is tailored to states’ individual social studies education standards to assist teachers in meeting their teaching objectives. 
  • Voter Registration Drive Advertisement Materials Teachers are provided with promotional materials for use in their school to spread the word about the student voter registration drive they are organizing.
  • Training and Support - we at RegiStart provide remote training and support to teachers as they prepare for and execute the Voter Registration Project. In total, it takes two hours for teachers to prepare to execute the Voter Registration Project, and our team is available to help at every step of the process.   



In October 2019, RegiStart’s Voter Registration Project was piloted at a high school in suburban Chicago. By all metrics, our program out-performed traditional programs in terms of effectiveness and educational value. 

  • Registrations - 244 students registered to vote, increasing the student registration rate from 18% to 54%. 
  • Compared to Other Programs RegiStart performed 60% better on average than traditional voter registration programs conducted in comparable high schools in the region.
  • Educational Value – “RegiStart provided an opportunity for students to have hands-on experience in the political process. Their participation was fodder for terrific discussions on the role they can play in impacting government.”
    -Tim Johnson, Social Studies Teacher, Naperville North High School

RegiStart is also more cost effective than traditional voter registration programs, which require $12-20 to help one student get registered to vote versus RegiStart’s $10 per student.


We envision an America in which young people understand and practice their civic duty of voting such that all segments of the population are equitably represented in our elections.



After our successful pilot in a suburban Chicago high school last fall, we are in the process of expanding to have a much larger impact. We are doing this by deploying the Voter Registration Project to 10+ schools in Michigan (and eventually many other schools and states in the future). We are currently in the process of developing course materials, improving our app, and  and identifying teachers to engage. We plan to begin deploying the Voter Registration Project to schools on April 1, 2020. 

Money raised will be used for app development, lesson plan development, program deployment, and other overhead costs. Consider supporting us by donating at one of our nine giving levels.

We need your help to make RegiStart’s impact as broad as possible! Please make a charitable contribution today.  You can make a donation for as little as $10 or up to $5000 based on what you are able to give. All donors will receive a charitable receipt. Every dollar raised will go directly towards furthering our goal of having all Americans be participants of democracy.



RegiStart is comprised of six volunteers dedicated to engaging ALL Americans to participate in democracy, and are working hard to make it happen.


Sean Van Dril - Founder - Sean is a political organizer and government consultant with a passion for improving the systems in which Americans operate. Outside of RegiStart, Sean works as an emergency management consultant for Hagerty Consulting, advising Federal, state, and local governments on how they can best prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. Sean earned his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Political Science from Northwestern University and currently resides in the Washington D.C. area.


Fred Berns - Operations Director - As the General Manager (President) of Hammacher Schlemmer, Fred Berns turned around the money-losing company, resulting in consistently strong profits after decades of under performance. He led the company with particular focus on merchandising, creative, and internet marketing. He holds a Master of Management from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the University of Illinois.

Nick Swain - Content Director - Nick attended Kalamazoo College where he studied Physics, Mathematics, and Environmental Studies. Nick brings with him a passion for youth civic engagement, community development, systems thinking, and experiential learning fostered through his experience in outdoor leadership roles, as a student in Thailand with the International Sustainable Development Studies Institute, as a Teaching Assistant and Tutor for college introductory physics classes, and through his continued experience in community organizing, since college. Nick currently resides in Kalamazoo, Michigan.



Weston Kulman - Fundraising Director - Other than wanting to make a difference in American Democracy, Weston is a Tire Test and Modeling Engineer at Pratt and Miller Engineering. He is currently supporting Chevrolet NASCAR teams with advanced dynamic tire models to help them better predict tire performance on the race track. Weston earned a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University and currently lives in Royal Oak, Michigan. 




Jiarui Zhu - Intern -  Stephanie Zhu is a student at Northwestern University studying journalism, computer science and design. She is currently in the San Francisco Bay Area exploring the intersection of media and technology. 


Sen Kalidoss - Intern - Sen is a first-year student at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). He is completing a bachelor's degree in Neuroscience with a goal of attending medical school, and resides in the Chicago metro area. Sen led his high school's Junior State of America chapter, where he worked to help students develop debate skills and promoted the importance of student political activism. His involvement in grassroots political work and activism initiatives led to a natural interest in RegiStart's mission and values.  




Campaign photos: Rick West of the Daily Herald

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$10 USD
Help One Student Get Registered
For the small cost of $10 we can help one high school senior get registered to vote!
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$20 USD
Help Two Students Get Registered to Vote
With $20 we can have enough impact to encourage 2 students to register for their next election
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$50 USD
Pay to Help Five Students Register
$50 can empower our organization to help five students register to vote!
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$100 USD
Help 10 Students Register with Registering to Vote
With $100 Registart will be able to reach even more students and help get 10 students to register for the next election!
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$250 USD
Help Fund an Entire Class to use Registart
We charge nothing to the teachers and students we work with, and with $250 we can help an entire classroom of students get registered to vote and be a part of the democratic process.
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$500 USD
Help Two classrooms of Students Register to Vote
With $500 we would be able to reach two whole classrooms of students and help them register to vote!
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$1,000 USD
Cover the Cost of Training Materials Development
With $1000 Registart would be able to cover the costs of creating training materials to ensure that both the teachers and students we work with are well informed about the process of voter registration!
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$2,500 USD
Help an entire School's Senior Class Register
With $2500 we can help teach a civics class about how to register to vote within their state, and have them use the Registart app to reach as many of their peers as possible to encourage them to register to vote! With this we would be able to reach up to as many as 250-300 high school seniors!
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$5,000 USD
Cover the Cost of App Development
With $5,000 Registart will be able to cover the costs of further developing our app from what we learned through our pilot. With the goal for the app to be as straight forward and easy to use as possible.
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