2016 Funders census initiative 2020 accomplishments

Mobilizing Funders For a Fair and Accurate 2020 Census Count

The Funders Census Initiative works to build strong support within philanthropy for ensuring a fair and accurate decennial census count in 2020. In 2016, we created a suite of useful resources, built new partnerships for educating and mobilizing funders, and delivered in-person and virtual programming which has inspired involvement in the census among new grantmaking audiences.

FCI 2020 at the FCCP 2016 Convening

Congressman Keith Ellison stressed the importance of funder involvement in the 2020 Census during his keynote address.

In this video made for the FCCP network, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) shares his passion for the census and wants to ensure YOU are counted in 2020.


Funders Census Initiative Breakfast Meet-up (31 participants) FCI 2020 Senior Advisor Terri Ann Lowenthal provided an update on important census and America Community Survey policy and planning challenges then Minnesota colleagues shared their lessons for effective state and local engagement.

Quick Wit: 2020 Census by Arturo Vargas, National Association of Latino Elected Officials (125 participants)  The next five years are critical for the future of our democracy. Among the mid-term elections, shifting demographics and voting-right fights, the 2020 Census promises to shape what that future will look like. This short TED-style provocation on the 2020 Census dished up some food for thought for the corresponding funder-to-funder strategy session that followed.


2020 Census Strategy Session (17 participants) This strategy session focused on what grantmaking institutions can and will do to address the challenges and opportunities related to the 2020 Census. This future-planning session helped spark conversations that are guiding our next steps toward meaningful long-term victories for democracy. This session featured Arturo Vargas (NALEO), Bob Tracy (Minnesota Council on Foundations) and Joan Naymark (Minnesotans for the American Community Survey).

Uniting Philanthropy in the Countdown to the Count

The Funders Census Initiative Forged Two Key Philanthropic Partnerships in 2016:

Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers

Working with the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, FCI introduced the importance of the 2020 Census to new philanthropic audiences through the following  co-hosted programming:

Conference call: “Policy Round Robin” for the Regional Associations of Grantmakers’ policy staff featuring FCI (June)

Panel Discussion: Forum of Regional Associations’ Joint Policy Institute (August, Chicago) Co-hosted by FCCP, the Forum and the National Council on Nonprofits. Featuring Eric Marshall (FCCP) and George Cheung (Joyce Foundation) this panel spotlighted the opportunities for – and benefits of – early funder engagement in the census. It also established the nexus between decennial census and the American Community Survey (ACS) and other civic-engagement and democracy-related funding priorities.

Webinar: Census 2020: Why Philanthropy Counts (October, 77 participants) This co-hosted a webinar generated funder interest, engagement and investment in the 2020 Census.

Democracy Funders Collaborative Census Subgroup

FCI has also been working in close partnership with the Democracy Funders Collaborative Census Subgroup whose membership and priorities overlap. FCI complements and strengthens the impact of the Census Subgroup by providing funder outreach and education to encourage philanthropic engagement in a fair and accurate census count. FCI and the Census Subgroup have begun joint quarterly in-person meetings to advance our collective efforts which include:

FCI 2020 Leadership Team and the Census Subgroup Meetings (July, September, approximately 50 participants each). Representatives from some of the leading national census advocacy groups participated in these meetings which focused on critical issues related to census policy, administration, operations and funder outreach.

Secured Funder Support for Sign-on Letter to U.S. Census Bureau to End Prison Gerrymandering (August) Spearheaded by Prison Policy Initiative’s Peter Wagner and Bauman Foundation’s Gary Bass, FCI was instrumental in securing participation from 35 philanthropic institutions in a joint letter of public comment urging the Census Bureau to count incarcerated persons at their home residence in the 2020 Census, instead of at the prison facility in which they are housed on Census Day. The letter was submitted in response to the proposed “residence rules” for 2020, which govern where people are counted in the census. The current practice of counting incarcerated persons at prison facilities results in “prison gerrymandering,” especially at the state legislative level, because many prisons are located in rural, predominantly White areas, far from the home communities of most inmates – who are disproportionately people of color and reside in urban neighborhoods.

Released the Census Subgroup’s Plan of Action (April) This plan highlights 2020 Census policy needs, public outreach, and funder outreach and education. See resource featured below.

Resources to Support Your Census Work

FCI 2020 Developed a Suite of Resources in 2016 To Help You Count Down to the Count.

Key 2020 U.S. Census Bureau Milestones – A Fact Sheet for Tracking Progress As We Count Down to the Count

Measuring a Diverse America: Key Census Milestones to Monitor (infographic)

Census 2020 Action Plan – By the Democracy Funders Collaborative Census Subgroup with FCI support)

Census Updates Keep You Informed of the All the Latest Happenings Related to a Fair and Accurate Count in 2020


Visit Our FCI 2020 Page + See More Resources

Funders Census Initiative Working Group Leadership Team

Cynthia Guy

The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Gary Bass

The Bauman Foundation

Hollis Hope

Voqal Fund

Terri Ann Lowenthal

FCCI 2030 Senior Advisor