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Support for $93.4M Investment for Community-Based Organization for Census Outreach

Publication date: 
Thursday, May 16, 2019

Topics: 2020 Census


Description of Position

On behalf of Philanthropy California, the League of California Community Foundations, and 24 foundations, we respectfully share our support for the Census Policy Advocacy Network’s (CPAN) request for an additional $93.4 million in the 2019-20 budget to fund outreach by community-based organizations (CBOs) for the 2020 Census. We believe this additional funding will help reach 16.2 million individuals living within and outside of hard-to-count (HTC) census tracts and is critical to ensure a complete and accurate count of California.



The proposed expenditure for CBO outreach in the Governor’s January 2019-20 budget is insufficient to conduct the level of outreach needed to California’s hard to count (HTC) populations. While we applaud the significant investment made by the State to date, the 2020 Census is unlike any census before. Without adequate resources to support critical on-the-ground community-based efforts, California remains at risk for an undercount – losing billions of dollars in federal funding and congressional seats for a decade. Accordingly, we respectfully request the Legislature to allocate an additional $93.4 million specifically for CBO outreach in the 2019-20 budget.

As noted by CPAN in its March 29, 2019 letter, the cost for CBOs across the state to educate and encourage millions of HTC Californians to participate in the 2020 Census is $120.4 million in totality. This total is much higher than both the already allocated $27 million in last year’s budget, and the proposed $15.9 million in commitment by California Complete Count office. This estimate should be carefully considered before the 2019-20 budget is finalized in order to ensure that California is best positioned for a complete count and will receive its fair share of federal funding and congressional seats in the decade after 2020.

Census outreach by CBOs will be critical to ensuring that California’s hardest to count populations participate in the 2020 Census. The State has long recognized the essential role that CBOs play in communities across the state in supporting Census outreach – both as trusted messengers and census educators. CBOs usually have deep relationships with and knowledge of HTC populations, which makes them a vital source of trusted messengers. They also usually have experience operating various types of outreach programs, which is what makes them a vital source of census education. From door-to-door canvasing and phone banking to social media messaging and digital campaigns, CBOs are best situated to validate government messages and alleviate anxiety about responding to the Census questionnaire or enumerator.


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