Philanthropy Northwest supports a fair and accurate census count, and actively calls upon state and federal governments to fully fund the 2020 Census. We also encourage the philanthropic sector to assume an advocacy role in preparing Northwest communities for the census.
Why It Matters?
The census is a critical mechanism for ensuring that no community’s needs or voices are overlooked. Demographic and socioeconomic data from the census drive informed, inclusive and effective decision-making—assisting state and local leaders, business, nonprofits and foundations in defining how to prioritize services, resources and investments. The census also directly affects the distribution of political representation and the equitable allocation of more than $600 billion in federal funds to support programs that help improve and strengthen public health, education and transportation, among other services.
The Role of Philanthropy
Preparations for Census 2020, which will be the first to rely largely on internet self-responses, have been hampered by underfunding. At a time in the decennial cycle when planning activities must progress on an aggressive schedule, the lack of sufficient funding has resulted in cancelations or downsizing of important tests, including two in the Northwest region—Colville tribal lands in 2017 and Pierce County, WA, for 2018.
In October 2017, the Secretary of Commerce asked Congress for an increase of $187 million for FY2018 to keep census preparations on track. Congressional appropriations to the Census Bureau in both 2018 and 2019 will fund the groundwork necessary for a well-executed census in 2020.
While full funding by Congress for the Census Bureau’s preparations is critical, ensuring hard-to-count communities’ participation in Census 2020 requires additional resources and expertise by community leaders and organizations.
For Census 2010, philanthropic support to organizations leading policy advocacy, education and outreach efforts neared $40 million nationally. For Census 2020, the philanthropic sector is working to play a more active role in ensuring a complete count of all communities. National collaborations and resources include:
- United Philanthropy Forum
- Funders Census Initiative (FCI) 2020
- Census Hard to Count (HTC) Maps
- Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights 2020 Census Resources
Philanthropy Northwest Responds to the Potential Impacts of Adding a Citizenship Question
Addressing the challenges for hard-to-count communities is a monumental undertaking in every census, even in the best of times. The addition of an untested citizenship question to Census 2020 will make an accurate count even more complicated, costly and difficult.
Recognizing the importance of weighing in on the specific impacts of the citizenship question to the communities served across our network, Philanthropy Northwest submitted a letter to the Commerce Department. Philanthropy Northwest CEO Kiran Ahuja noted, “The vast Northwest region includes many communities that are hard-to-count . . . Indeed, the largest shares of philanthropic funding to the Northwest focus on supporting historically underserved communities,” including the economically disadvantaged, children, Alaska Natives and Native Americans, immigrants and refugees, and other communities of color.
You can read Philanthropy Northwest’s complete letter of official comments to the U.S. Department of Commerce online.
What We Can Do, Together
Now is the time to step up and ensure an accurate count of Northwest communities. What’s more, Philanthropy Northwest and our members are uniquely positioned to add value through convenings, partnerships, programming and direct advocacy.
The census landscape continues to evolve, but together with your help, all Northwest communities will be counted.
To learn more, please contact Meredith Higashi.