Community Foundations Continue 2020 Census Leadership As Court Battles Continue

The Supreme Court this week decided that it will allow lower courts to decide whether or not the Trump administration can include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census. 

But while the question plays out in the legal arena, community foundations and their nonprofit partners are still hard at work to ensure that not only do historically undercounted communities receive the financial resources necessary for a truly accurate count, but that those dollars are strategically targeted toward community-based nonprofits doing the work closest to those populations.

Leaders of those foundations say they see the Supreme Court’s decision as motivation to continue their work on this critical issue. A few of those foundations that stand out:

The New York Community Trust’s Census Equity Fund has raised more than $1.8 million and granted $628,000 to nonprofits in the state to help reach hard-to-count communities, and has advocated on behalf of the New Yorker vulnerable to undercounting at the state level, asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo for additional funds.

In Michigan, the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan’s Michigan Counts program -- a statewide nonprofit fundraising campaign that includes the foundation and other nonprofit and philanthropic groups -- will contribute up to $1 million in outreach to their region’s historically undercounted communities.

In Washington state, The Seattle Foundation, the City of Seattle, Bellevue and Kirkland and King County are collectively investing more than $1 million in a Regional Census Fund, with $700,000 in grants announced just following the Supreme Court ruling. This is in addition to the statewide Washington Census Equity Fund supported by philanthropic partners. 

And in Washington, D.C. region, the Greater Washington Community Foundation’s “Count DMV Census” project will work in conjunction with other funders, including United Way, to award grants to nonprofit organizations in the Washington, D.C. region that are working on census-related activities, such as public outreach, education and mobilization, as well as those helping to assist individuals and families in filling out their 2020 Census forms.

For more on how community foundations are pushing for an accurate count, check out this June 27 piece in The Chronicle of Philanthropy in which the leaders of three prominent foundations call for their peers to fund community-based efforts around the census.

Amanda Palleschi