Accurate census data are essential for the fair distribution of political representation at the national, state and local levels, and for the prudent, equitable allocation of government resources. More than $600 billion annually in federal assistance to states, localities, and families is distributed based on census data. Yet historically, the census has missed disproportionate numbers of racial minorities, immigrants, young children and the poor, leading to inequality in political power and in access to public funding and private investment for these communities.

The 2020 Census is facing unprecedented challenges — a leadership void at the Census Bureau; insufficient funding, resulting in canceled tests and scaled back preparations; cybersecurity threats (real and perceived) and the digital divide, as the first high-tech census rolls out; and community reluctance and fear of sharing information with the government.

Although philanthropy cannot and should not supplant the government’s responsibility to ensure a fair and accurate census, funder engagement in support of the census is more important than ever.

FCI 2020 supports grantmakers by:

  • Providing forums for funders to learn, strategize and plan together including webinars, briefings, convening sessions and in-person meetings
  • Developing census timelines, updates, fact sheets, analyses and resources to inform your work
  • Monitoring Census Bureau progress and tracking legislative issues which could impact a fair and accurate count

In 2010, FCI helped mobilize millions in philanthropic support nationwide for the census. Increased grantmaking support and earlier investment is critical in the lead-up to the 2020 Census, as the road is filled with both challenges and opportunities that will influence vital decisions and determine the inclusiveness of the count.

The Funders Census Initiative 2020 is committed to stimulating interest in the census among funders and their grantees through outreach, education, resource development, and technical assistance. FCI provides a framework and serves as a clearinghouse for philanthropic support of the census, this decade and beyond. By supporting grantmaker engagement on the census, FCI works to achieve a democracy where everybody counts because everyone is counted.


In addition to determining fair political representation and allocation of government resources, census data are required for implementation and enforcement of most civil rights laws, including the Voting Rights Act, and fair housing, education, and employment laws. At least $600 billion in federal grants are allocated each year based, directly or indirectly, on the American Community Survey (ACS) — the ongoing part of the census and only source of high-quality, updated, socio-economic data for every community and neighborhood in the country.

State governments also distribute public funds to localities using census data, and businesses depend on accurate census and ACS data to make prudent decisions on location, hiring, products and services, and capital investment, while nonprofits rely on the data to identify special community needs and target services. Historically, the census has missed disproportionate numbers of people of color, immigrants, young children (especially Latino and Black children), and low income, low educational attainment, and rural households, leading to a decade of inequity in political power, government funding, and private sector investment for these communities.

The U.S. Census is a critical component of a functioning democracy and a just society. All of philanthropy should join us as we mobilize the philanthropic effort for an accurate 2020 census that will help ensure that every community receives its fair share of representation and resources.

2020 Census Funder Toolkit

This toolkit provides helpful information, resources, and guidance for grant makers who want to help ensure a fair and accurate census and explains why an accurate count is particularly critical for the communities you serve.

As a grant maker, you have a unique opportunity to ensure that the census reflects an accurate picture of our nation and that historically undercounted populations are included in the census.

Please complete this short form to access the toolkit. The link is shared on the confirmation page for completing the form.

See additional Census updates and resources below.


Funders Census Initiative Co-chairs

Marcia Avner

Bauman Foundation

Alexie Torres

Access Strategies Fund

Leadership Team

  • Sol Marie Alfonso Jones, Long Island Community Foundation
  • Elina Alterman, Kansas Health Foundation
  • Christian Arana, Latino Community Foundation
  • Cindy Canary, CKCanary Consulting
  • Elena Conley, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation
  • Xiomara Corpeno, Groundswell Fund
  • Meredith Higashi, Philanthropy Northwest
  • Ed Kissam, WKF Giving Fund
  • Dawn Melchiorre, Forefront
  • Virginia Mosqueda, The James Irvine Foundation
  • Scott Nielsen, Arabella Advisors
  • Allan Oliver, Thornburg Foundation
  • Maggie Osborn, United Philanthropy Forum
  • Stephania Ramirez, California Community Foundation
  • Christine Reeves Strigaro, Sapelo Foundation
  • Melina Sanchez, The James Irvine Foundation
  • Bob Tracy, MN Council on Foundations
  • Jonathan Tran, The California Endowment
  • Bia Vieira, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR)
  • Tara Westman, The California Endowment
  • McKenzie Young, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation