CalNonprofits Articles

An accurate census count matters: Federal funding is allocated based on census data, and our communities need to be counted

Our state and federal governments are already gearing up for the 2020 Census, including 24 events that will be held around the state during the next four months. As trusted community partners, nonprofits will play a key role in ensuring an accurate count in the 2020 Census. That's why we're encouraging nonprofits to attend the Census Convening being held in their area.

Accuracy matters because $76 billion in federal funding that California receives each year is based in part on census data (that’s $1,958 per capita, according to new research). Census data is also used to determine Congressional representation, and some experts suggest California could be at risk of losing a Congressional seat.

California faces three key challenges that could lead to an undercount in 2020, which would mean less federal funding for our communities.
  1. About one in four Californians live in “hard-to-count” census tracts. This includes poor people, non-English speakers, immigrants and more. These 9.6 million Californians are among those that are the least likely to participate in the census.
  2. The internet will be the primary tool for getting census responses. One million Californians don’t have access to broadband in their areas, and 2.5 million can only get dial-up service, not to mention households that don't know how to use the internet (example: your grandmother).
  3. The administration’s decision to add a question about citizenship to the census could lead people to not fill out the form, fearing that it could lead to more scrutiny. California is one of 17 states and seven cities (including San Francisco and San Jose), as well as several nonprofits, that are suing the federal government to remove this question from the census questionnaire.
It remains to be seen if the citizenship question will be included on the final questionnaire, but it’s clear that an undercount would have lasting consequences for California communities.

Nonprofits can stand up for their communities during these chaotic times by ensuring an accurate 2020 Census count

As nonprofits, we want to ensure California gets back its rightful share of the over $400 billion in federal taxes Californians pay each year. We also want our political leaders to know about all the people that live in our communities, not just the ones who are comfortable filling out the census online.

Here's something we can all do: As we mentioned earlier, California Census 2020 (the state’s initiative on the census) is hosting 24 convenings across the state during the next four months to help them address the challenges of an undercount. These convenings bring together local leaders in hard-to-count areas to form partnerships, identify resources, and start strategizing on outreach. The feedback provided at these convenings will help inform the state’s strategy on the 2020 Census going forward. We encourage you to attend an event in your area. A complete list of the locations, dates, and times of the convenings is available on the California Census website.

CalNonprofits’ role in the Census 2020: As a member of the Census Policy Advocacy Network (CPAN), CalNonprofits is working with other statewide organizations in California to advocate and shape policy concerning the 2020 Census and the American Community Survey. That means advocating with the California legislature to make a more robust investment to ensure an accurate count, working to get the word out about the 2020 Census, and more. Our participation in CPAN is part of our broader “Standing up for California” campaign of advocacy at the federal level to protect our communities at the local level. If you have questions or feedback about the 2020 Census, We’d love to hear from you.

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