By Monica Lewis
the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge (ALL IN) hosted its fourth biennial awards ceremony to recognize colleges and universities, as well as students, faculty and staff, presidents and chancellors, coaches, partner organizations and election officials for their extraordinary work in nonpartisan student voter engagement during the 2022 midterm elections. Among them is Howard University Men’s Basketball Coach Kenny Blakeney, who was recognized as the Standout Collegiate Athletic Coach.
More than 960 institutions enrolling 9.7 million students participate in the ALL IN Challenge. “Developing the next generation of Black leaders in this country, trained to make an impact on the world beyond Georgia Avenue and our campus community, is the essence of why I wanted to be the coach at Howard. This award is recognition of the incredible work our program has done off the court, and I could not be prouder and more humbled to accept this honor,” said Blakeney who started coaching at Howard during the 2019-2020 season.
Colleges and universities play an integral role in helping their students register to vote and make their voices heard at the ballot box as the 2022 elections saw the second highest youth voter turnout for a midterm election in 30 years.
Blakeney is celebrated for being a dynamic coach, but he is more committed to helping his players become positive and productive members of society. Blakeney, who won Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year in 1990 at DeMatha Catholic High School, is a homegrown talent who went on to play at Duke University.
His coaching career includes stops at James Madison University, the University of Delaware, Seton Hall University and Harvard University.
Despite a stellar coaching career, Blakeney has worked to raise awareness on the importance of voter engagement, working with former first lady Michelle Obama and NBA star Chris Paul on the “When We All Vote” initiative to increase Black voter registration among young people.
As the COVID-19 pandemic forced the campus to shutter in-person operations, Blakeney helped coordinate a virtual fundraiser to provide some financial relief to families impacted by layoffs and furloughs.
“As much pride as I take in our team being the MEAC’s regular season and conference tournament champions, I take more pride in being the head coach of what I know to be the most civically engaged program in the country,” said Blakeney.
“Despite nationwide attempts to undermine democracy through restrictive voting laws, college students made their voices heard during the 2022 midterm elections,” said Jen Domagal-Goldman, executive director of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. “Each and every one of us has a role to play in promoting nonpartisan student democratic engagement. The individuals we are celebrating today are leading the way on their campuses and in their communities to ensure that every student has the tools and information they need to participate in our democracy and cast their ballot.”