We All Deserve to Be Counted: Our Plan for the Next Census

We are an inclusive California and we all deserve to be counted


Philanthropy California and Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees join the Funders’ Committee on Civic Participation’s (FCCP) Funders Census InitiativeUnited Philanthropy Forum, and philanthropy-serving organizations across the country in asking our members to commit to an accurate census, especially in light of the heightened threats unveiled last week through the addition of a citizenship question.

Our state is great because of the strength we draw from our diversity, including the 10 million immigrants who live here. Immigrants and their families are our classmates and colleagues, our neighbors, and family members. No matter where someone comes from and regardless of citizenship status, we are stronger when we work together, find new ways to deal with old challenges, and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to pursue their dreams.

On March 26, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced that the Census Bureau will require a question on US citizenship in the 2020 Census. This decision will not only undermine the accuracy of the data collected, but calls into question that effort’s commitment to the ideal that all of us are created equal—and count equally.

The requirement of a citizenship question will likely lead to a gross undercount of immigrants, particularly immigrants of color who are already living in a national climate of fear and mistrust. Furthermore, the undercount will cause inaccuracies in data that will last a decade, at least until the 2030 Census. These inaccuracies will deprive our local communities of their fair allocation of federal funds.


“Census Day,” April 1, 2020, is now less than two years away and the time to act is now!


California receives approximately $76 billion annually in funding for federal assistance programs driven by Census data, from housing vouchers to education grants, from social safety net programs such as Medi-Cal to workforce development. Census experts have identified California as one of the hardest-to-count states because of the high representation of hard-to-count communities who live here. Our state unfortunately lived up to such expectations during the last Census when 1.5 million persons went uncounted. This undercount has resulted in unequal political representation and unequal access to vital public and private resources of $3 billion annually.

With so much at stake, we need to ensure an accurate census. It is clear that philanthropy cannot and should not supplant the government’s responsibility to ensure that every single person in the country is counted. It is also clear that funder engagement on the Census has the potential to pay off with millions of dollars to support the well-being of all people in our communities.

Philanthropy California has begun coordination and partnership both statewide and regionally to bring funders together to connect, learn, and engage around the Census.


How you can become engaged today:


  1. Join Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR) Statewide Funders’ Table. Philanthropy California has partnered with GCIR to ensure that there is effective and strategic coordination amongst funders. Contact Bia Vieira.
  2. Join Philanthropy California’s Statewide Funders’ Advocacy Table. We are forming a statewide roundtable for all funders interested in learning and/or engaging in policy and advocacy to ensure a fair and accurate count. One issue under consideration is developing policy responses at the state and federal level to reverse the decision to include a citizenship question or to mitigate its impacts. Please contact your regional lead: Cecilia Chen, Northern California Grantmakers; Karla Mercado, Southern California Grantmakers; Ryan Ginard, San Diego Grantmakers.
  3. Contact your Regional Association– Northern California Grantmakers, Southern California Grantmakers, and San Diego Grantmakers, to engage in regional hubs for members to connect, share resources, and support regional collaboration.


The 2020 Census will take place just two years from now. Our decisions about what to do today will have ramifications for our generation and succeeding generations. Join us to make sure California can protect and advance our values as an inclusive state for all.


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