Tag: 2020 Census

Funders: Join us to ensure a fair, accurate, and complete Census 2020 in the Greater Washington region

By Levina Kim, United Way of the National Capital Area, Ria Pugeda, Consumer Health Foundation, and Terri Wright, Eugene & Agnes E. Meyer Foundation

In Spring 2018, the three of us agreed to join together to co-chair the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers’ then-new Census 2020 Working Group. Our goal was, and continues to be, to convene, educate, and mobilize our fellow funders to leverage our collective resources in support of a fair and accurate Census 2020.

The reasons why Census 2020 is an urgent philanthropic priority have been said before, but bear repeating: the Census is the cornerstone of our democracy. Census data determine where government allocates our tax dollars for new schools, hospitals, roads, sewers, and other critical infrastructure. Census data determine federal resources for maternal and child health, Head Start, supplemental food programs, subsidized housing, and other human services (more than $24 billion to DC, Maryland, and Virginia combined!) Companies use census data when considering where to pursue business opportunities. Census data is also used to determine the number of congressional seats that will prevail for the next 10 years.

Most importantly, a complete and accurate Census 2020 is critical for advancing racial equity in our region. The census count has historically missed disproportionate numbers of people of color, immigrants, young children, low-income, and rural households. It is estimated that more than 55,000 individuals were “undercounted” in this region in 2010. When communities of color are undercounted in the census they are impacted in multiple ways. It could lead to under-representation in government and thus a lack of focus on and investment in their priorities and concerns. Federal funding for social service programs could be drastically reduced. Businesses that are urgently needed – like grocery stores – may fail to open in under-resourced neighborhoods because the data does not reflect the potential for sufficient demand.

The current political environment, a reduction of federal resources for outreach workers (“enumerators” in census-speak), and the sweeping move to an online census have exacerbated the likelihood of our region’s most marginalized communities being grossly under-counted. It is essential for the nonprofit, philanthropic, business, and government sectors to step up and optimize our inherent potential to reach and support communities that are at the most risk of being undercounted in the 2020 Census.

Our call to action: The viability of an equitable future depends on a complete and accurate Census 2020. Philanthropy can and must invest in our nonprofit partners, which have the relationships and connections with different communities, to support the outreach, education, and assistance that under-counted communities – especially communities of color – would need. We call on our philanthropic colleagues to join us in investing directly or with other foundations and donors through a pooled fund housed at the Greater Washington Community Foundation dedicated to Census 2020. We know that through our collective effort we can achieve a complete and accurate count and make a substantial impact on what happens to our region over the next 10 years.


Funders: To learn more about the pooled funding opportunity, please contact Terri Wright, Vice President of Program & Community at the Meyer Foundation, or Ria Pugeda, Senior Program Officer, Consumer Health Foundation.

WRAG members are encouraged to join the Census 2020 Working Group to support a fair and accurate census. The next meeting is June 17. Contact Rebekah Seder to learn more.

The Countdown to Census 2020 Begins Today

By Rebekah Seder
Senior Program Manager
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

Census Day is now one year away – and the time to act is now.

A fair and accurate census is critical to the future of our region. Data from the census are used to allocate political representation at the federal and state levels, and to determine billions in federal funding for a host of essential programs, including Medicaid, SNAP, housing vouchers, Head Start, and much more. (Check out these fact sheets from George Washington University to see just how much funding is at stake in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.) Census data drive decisions that impact our lives in countless ways, from where businesses choose to locate, to where bus routes operate, health clinics open, and housing is built.

Most importantly, a fair and accurate census is about equity. Those most at risk of not being counted are those communities that are already the most marginalized in our region due to a history of structural racism and inequitable policies. People of color, immigrants, young children, and low-income families lose political voice and access to resources – power and money – when they aren’t counted. (Explore this map to see where the hardest-to-count census tracts are in our region.)

All of this is compounded in 2020 as actions at the federal level, including the attempt to add an unnecessary citizenship question to the census form, have created a climate of fear that will suppress census completion among communities that have the most at stake. The shift to an online form will also suppress the count among low-income households and others affected by the digital divide.

What WRAG is doing

Since June 2018, WRAG has convened a 2020 Census Working Group of funders interested in strategically supporting the census count in the region. The group meets regularly to share information and get updates from U.S. Census Bureau officials and their counterparts responsible for census activities at the state level in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Many working group members are developing grantmaking and non-grantmaking strategies to support outreach to hard-to-count communities and to amplify the work of Complete Count Committees – cross-sector groups made up of local government representatives and trusted civic leaders that are activating to get out the count in their respective jurisdictions.

In addition, WRAG, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, and 13 foundations and other organizations are co-sponsoring a convening later this spring to mobilize key community stakeholders and elevate effective strategies for ensuring that those communities most likely to be missed by the census are counted.

How to get involved

WRAG Members: Contact Rebekah Seder to join WRAG’s 2020 Census Working Group and get connected with other funders already taking action. Check out the Funders Census Initiative, convened by the Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation, for a comprehensive toolkit for philanthropic action and other resources on the census.

Nonprofit partners: Advocacy and direct service organizations can educate, encourage, and enable their constituents to complete the census. Get involved with your local Complete Count Committee to support outreach activities in your community. Talk to your funders about what kinds of support your organization needs to participate in census-related activities.

Progress toward our vision of an equitable region is impossible without a fair and accurate census. We all have a role to play to ensure that everyone in our region is counted. The clock is ticking.

DC’s public high schools plagued with chronic absenteeism

EDUCATION | A new report released yesterday found that more than 1 of every 10 students that graduated from a District public high school missed most of the 2017 school year, and teachers felt pressured to pass them. DC officials called for an investigation into the school system after NPR found that most of Ballou High School’s graduates were chronically absent. There has yet to be an investigation into the root causes of why these low-income students of color have poor attendance. (WaPo, 1/16)

The review saved some of its sharpest criticism for Ballou High School, which has been engulfed in controversy amid a graduation scandal. The report found that the school’s administrators told teachers that a high percentage of their students were expected to pass and encouraged them to provide makeup work and extra credit to students, no matter how much school they missed. Teachers received little training in a new grading system, and their annual performance reviews hinged in small part on their success in graduating students.

2020 CENSUS | Vu Le, Nonprofit AF blogger, discusses why nonprofit organizations and funders should work together to make sure everyone is counted in the upcoming Census. (NAF, 1/16)

CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY | Marc DeCourcey, senior vice president of the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, WRAG’s partner in the Institute for CSR, discusses how companies such as Boeing and Wells Fargo have increased their community investments. (LinkdIn, 12/21)

HOUSINGThe Wharf development raises the question: How affordable is ‘affordable’? (GGW, 1/12)

NONPROFIT | The Center for Nonprofit Advancement is asking for applications for the 2018 Advancement In Management (AIM) Award Competition. Nonprofits in the Greater Washington region that believe they demonstrate outstanding achievement in organizational management can apply here.

HOMELESSNESS | Cheryl Bell, executive chef at Miriam’s Kitchen, recalls her journey into the nonprofit sector and how the organization impacts the District’s homeless population. (BYT, 1/16)

HEALTH CAREVirginia hospitals want proposed tax on profits out of budget in push to expand Medicaid (Richmond Times, 1/16)

ENVIRONMENT | The Environmental Protection Agency is changing the way it assesses new chemicals for health and environmental hazards, causing advocates and environmental experts concern. (NBC News, 1/17)


Just some helpful advice: You could seriously hurt yourself by trying to stifle a sneeze.

– Kendra