The Importance of Census 2020 for Philanthropy and the Communities We Care About
The final segment of the GCRI session on the federal budget last week was focused on the upcoming 2020 Census. As you know, the decennial census determines the allocation of more than $600 billion in federal assistance to states, localities and families. Philanthropic funding, while important to Rhode Island communities, is obviously only a small portion of the federal resources that come into the state. It is important that the Census get an accurate count of Rhode Island communities to ensure that they receive adequate resources from a shrinking pool of federal dollars.
The only test site for the 2020 Census is Providence County (currently underway), although lapses in funding mean that this test is primarily focused on testing the Census technology, and messaging will not be tested.
Historically, the census has missed disproportionate numbers of young children, people of color, and the rural and urban poor. In the current environment, refugees and immigrants are reluctant to participate, and the proposed addition of a citizenship question will likely increase the difficulty in getting an accurate count of these populations. In Rhode Island, particularly hard to count communities in the last census included sections of Washington County, Newport County, West Warwick, Providence, East Providence, Central Falls, Pawtucket, Lincoln, North Providence and Woonsocket.
A few other facts about undercounted groups (from Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights Census webpage):
Children under age five are the most likely of all age groups to be undercounted. In 2010, the undercount rate for young children was 4.6% and more than 2.2 million in this age group were not included in the census results.
In 2010, Hispanic children under age five were overlooked at twice the rate of young non-Hispanic White children, and up to 400,000 young Latino children were missed.
The 2010 Census undercounted the African American population by more than 2 percent, and approximately 6.5 percent of young African American children were overlooked, roughly twice the rate for young non-Hispanic white children. Also startling, the net undercount of Black men between the ages of 30-49 was more than 10 percent. Today, more than one in three African Americans live in hard-to-count census tracts.
Since many of you work hard to support groups and geographic areas that tend to be undercounted, it’s important to work with your community partners in the next two years to ensure that they are counted accurately, and have access to the federal resources they should have access to.
- There are two upcoming opportunities to learn more about opportunities for philanthropy to be involved in supporting an accurate count of Rhode Islanders:Next Monday, April 9, from 2:00-3:00pm, our partner in the Forum, Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation (FCCP) will be hosting a webinar on “Participate. Convene. Invest. A Call to Action for Philanthropy for Census 2020.” Register
- RI Kids Count is co-sponsoring a Census Solutions workshop on April 13 for community organizations to help strategize ways to reach Rhode Island populations that are typically undercounted. If you are interested in participating or have a community partner who would be a valuable part of the conversation, more information.
Moving forward, there are many resources for funders available:
The Funders Committee for Civic Participation, a sister organization in the Forum, has also initiated a Funders Census Initiative if you would like to keep abreast of Census-related information for funders.
If you are interested in ideas about how funders can be involved in different aspects of supporting the Census, FCCP developed a menu of opportunities.
If you would like more information about the current status of Providence test, preparations for the 2020 Census, the addition of the citizenship question or other general information about the Census, the Forum has complied a number of articles that may be of interest:
- Open letter to Congress signed by 51 economists, including 4 Nobel Prize winners, 5 past presidents of the American Economic Association and former officials from the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations.
- Column by Dr. William (Bill) Frey, Brookings Institution, in Fortune
- Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial
- The Intercept — in-depth article focused on 2018 End-to-End Census Test in Rhode Island
- US Conference of Mayors resolution which can be adapted to localities
- National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy statement