Wild 2 Free/shutterstock

Wild 2 Free/shutterstock

The hotly debated 2020 census is just months away, and many funders are keen to ensure that everyone is counted—especially notoriously hard-to-count populations. These efforts are often focused in rural areas or urban communities which are home to many immigrants.

The state of Washington is one of the many places where philanthropy is working to support the census. The Seattle Foundation created the Regional Census Fund back in April to invest in a fair, accurate, and inclusive count of all the city’s residents. Recently, the foundation teamed up with King County and the City of Seattle to invest $710,000 in 21 nonprofit grants to address census issues in historically underrepresented communities in the Greater Seattle area. To serve communities of color, immigrants, refugees, native people, LGBTQ residents, and other marginalized groups, the funder collaborative is now supporting Byrd Barr Place, India Association of Western Washington, Mujer Al Volante/Women Driving, and the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness. The new list of grantees also includes the Chinese Information and Service Center, LGBTQ Allyship, and South Park Senior Citizens. The City of Bellevue and the City of Kirkland have also contributed to the fund.

This effort is complemented by Philanthropy Northwest’s broader Washington Census Equity Fund, which is a statewide fund that involves at least 25 philanthropic partners. This collaboration recently announced $800,000 in grants to 28 nonprofits and tribes that provide education, resources, and outreach to ensure an accurate census count.

Washington Census Equity Fund partners include the following: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Cedarmere Foundation, Community Foundation for Southwest Washington, Community Foundation of Snohomish County, Empire Health Foundation, Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, Group Health Foundation, Innovia Foundation, Latino Community Fund of Washington, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, More Equitable Democracy, Potlatch Fund, Progress Alliance of Washington, Renton Regional Community Foundation, Seattle Foundation, Sherwood Trust, Statewide Capacity Collaborative, Washington Women’s Foundation, Whatcom Community Foundation, and Yakima Valley Community Foundation.

Although the Trump Administration has indicated that it would finally drop its efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, news coverage of the controversy may discourage people from taking part in the mandated head count out of fear of deportation or privacy concerns.

Funders across the U.S. have focused extraordinary attention on ensuring a successful census, recognizing how much is at stake—since census data determines not only political representation but allocation of government resources to support critical services and programs, such as education, housing, and transportation. According to Census Bureau estimates, the state of Washington received approximately $16.7 billion in federal funds in 2016, which comes out to about $2,321 per perso

The collaborative efforts in Seattle are a good example of how philanthropy groups and local governments are often working together on a shared mission of inclusivity.

Learn more about how foundations across the country are funding 2020 census efforts on our blog.

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