The Philanthropy New York 2020 Census Funders Group is an ad hoc group of regional philanthropic leaders working in partnership with national and local nonprofit, government and business leaders – as well as our upstate sister organization New York Funders Alliance and its members. There are about two dozen foundations already associated with this group, but its meetings are open to all who are interested in learning about progress toward a full and fair 2020 Census count. A subset of this group has formed the New York State Grantmakers for Census Equity, a collaborative fund.
The United Philanthropy Forum, which has initiated a national project to encourage philanthropy serving organizations (PSOs) like Philanthropy New York to work in their local communities to ensure a full and fair 2020 Census count, has outlined the imperative:
“It is difficult to overstate the importance of a fair census count. When census information is not accurate, it threatens to muffle the voices of undercounted groups and regions, and undermine the basic political equality that is central to our democracy. Institutions across the country – including local and state governments, businesses, nonprofits and foundations – routinely rely on data from the census to allocate funding, define where services are delivered and promote economic development.”
There is a growing recognition among New York funders that Census 2020 is an immensely important opportunity – and potential crisis – for full inclusion, representation and resource allocation for vulnerable communities all across the New York region.
It is no coincidence that the communities that are hardest to reach in the decennial census count are also those that are under-resourced and under-represented in federal, state and local government. Systematic undercounting of hard-to-reach communities in the census could get a whole lot worse after the 2020 Census if we don’t take action in the years leading up to the count.
We invite any funder, regardless of you set program areas, to come and hear what’s going on. The 2020 Census Funders Work Group will have three phases of work:
- Planning and identifying needs in the lead up to the 2020 Census
- Working to monitor and support a full and accurate count as it happens
- Follow through on the information generated by the 2020 Census to ensure it is used properly in community representation and funding allocations.
If you think your organization’s grantees and the communities they serve will be affected by the outcome of the 2020 Census, we hope you will join us to learn and think about how to direct the limited resources we have. If our communities are not counted, our communities will not count.
In addition to its work supporting members organizing local work on Census 2020, Philanthropy New York has adopted an official statement on protecting the census that urges Congress and the Trump Administration to devote sufficient resources to the census for the coming years that would put planning and preparations back on track and also opposes the inclusion of untested, unnecessary questions that would decrease participation and increase the inaccuracy of the count.