Census 2020: Mobilizing to Get Out the Count

Census 2020: Mobilizing to Get Out the Count

The U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling last month in U.S. Department of Commerce v. New York, the case challenging the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 census. We applaud the court’s decision to block the citizenship question, which would have had a chilling effect, particularly on immigrant participation in the census, and lead to an overall undercount of the country’s population.

At this point, the Trump Administration has been permanently blocked from adding a citizenship question on the 2020 census form. Still, the threat of the citizenship question has already created significant fear and heightened mistrust, particularly for historically undercounted populations, such as communities of color, immigrants, low-income households, and young children.

The win at the Supreme Court cannot be interpreted as a reason to step back from this work. Once a decade, the U.S. Census Bureau attempts to count every person in the United States. The next enumeration, which will take place on April 1, 2020, will be the first to rely heavily on online responses. The census is used to determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives and the distribution of billions of dollars in federal funds to state and local governments. Participation in the census will help ensure that all communities receive their fair share of funding for schools, hospitals, public transportation, and more.

The San Francisco Foundation is committed to ensuring that everyone is counted, especially those who face the highest barriers to participation. We have publicly opposed the inclusion of the citizenship question, made significant investments in census outreach, and provided support to the Bay Area Census Funders Collaborative and individual organizations in the region to ensure that all Bay Area residents are counted in the 2020 census.

Despite significant investment by local governments, the State of California, and private philanthropy, there is still a substantial gap in the funds needed to support on-the-ground outreach by trusted organizations. It will take a massive mobilization to Get Out the Count, requiring the leadership of community-based organizations, local and state government, philanthropy, and the private sector to overcome the many obstacles to achieving an inclusive and accurate census count in 2020. We invite our partners in the philanthropic community, including individual donors, to consider investing in community organizations in our region to support a fair and accurate 2020 census. Foundations across the state have pledged their support.

Giving opportunities

1. Support the Bay Area Census Funders Collaborative: As supporters and contributors to the Bay Area Census Funders Collaborative, we are raising resources for the Get Out the Count effort in the Bay Area. Numerous local funders have already contributed to the pooled fund, but there is an urgent need this summer to raise at least $500,000 to support the community organizations gearing up for the next 12 months of census activities, including door-to-door canvassing, social media outreach, and community workshops. SFF and other funders in the collaborative are partnering with Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which holds the regional fund. Contribute to the Regional Pooled Fund of the Bay Area Census Funders Collaborative.

2. Directly Support a Local Nonprofit Engaged in Census Work: Our staff are available to consult with donors and philanthropic advisors and make recommendations of SFF grantees that are trusted messengers working hard to ensure that all communities participating in the census throughout our region. Our local investments in census outreach and education include partnerships with:

For more information on census outreach in the Bay Area and to learn more about how you can contribute to the regional effort for a fair and inclusive count, please contact Tessa Callejo at trc[at@]sff.org.