“We Can’t Count on Washington”: A California Funder Preps for the 2020 Census

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A public health funder based in California just kicked in $10 million to aid the state’s $90 million efforts to get a fair and accurate census count in 2020. The count determines the destination of federal dollars, the breakdown of representation in Washington and even influences where private investments flow.

Experts are increasingly alarmed about achieving a fair and accurate count in 2020, as a leadership vacuum at the Census Bureau, low funding, new technology and rising distrust in government combine to create the perfect storm.

There’s a growing national movement among foundations to bolster the 2020 Census. A subgroup of the Democracy Funders Collaborative is leading much of the work. The group’s members include the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Bauman Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Democracy Fund, the Ford Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the JPB Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Wallace H. Coulter Foundation. Last month, the group rallied more than 300 grantmaking executives to sign a letter to the Commerce Department in protest against adding a question on citizenship to the survey.

Regional foundations have also been stepping up. In New England, the Barr Foundation pledged $1 million to support ...