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Unprecedented: More than 300 U.S. philanthropic leaders call for removal of citizenship question from 2020 census


National, state and local philanthropies across 38 states and District of Columbia join in unanimous opposition; more than 30 philanthropy-serving organizations also speak out

Contact: Gary Bass, 202/328-2040,

WASHINGTON — Reflecting an unprecedented consensus in philanthropy from local foundations to national grantmaking organizations, 304 philanthropic leaders have called on the Trump administration to withdraw a citizenship question from the 2020 census.

In a public comment letter submitted to the U.S. Commerce Department ahead of an August 7 deadline, the large collection of foundation presidents and chief executives, trustees and others speaking for their organizations said the question would “significantly undermine efforts to achieve a fair and accurate census in 2020.” The letter continues:

We have different funding priorities, are ideologically diverse, and do not always agree with each other. But we wholeheartedly agree that the citizenship question should not be part of the 2020 Census.

A separate letter submitted by United Philanthropy Forum on behalf of 33 regional and national philanthropy-serving organizations added that the thousands of philanthropic members and constituents it represents “are supporting research, education, outreach, and other efforts to help [the Census Bureau] fulfill our mutual goal of a fair and accurate count…. The citizenship question unnecessarily adds to the challenge by increasing the hesitancy of nonprofits and trusted community leaders to encourage participation in the census.”

“America’s philanthropic community has come together in opposition to having a citizenship question included in the 2020 census,” said Gary Bass, executive director of the Bauman Foundation. “A question about citizenship will undoubtably discourage participation and make it even harder to count already hard-to-count populations. The results will be flawed data and communities at risk of losing critical resources and representation.”

The full text of both letters with a complete list of signers can be found at: Philanthropy Leaders’ Letter and Philanthropy-Serving Organizations’ Letter.