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2020 Census

2020 Census Action Funds

To help advance county-based efforts to promote participation in the 2020 Census, Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia joined with regional partners to create the Delaware County, Montgomery County and Philly Counts 2020 Census Action Funds. These collaborative, rapid-response funds were established to provide grants to support and empower community-based organizations working to develop the skills and capacity of communities at risk of being undercounted in order to help lay the groundwork for a complete count. 

  • Learn how the 2020 Census Action Funds supported community-based organizations working to actively promote participation in the 2020 Census in Philadelphia, Delaware and Montgomery counties

Philly Counts 2020

Philly Counts 2020 was established by the City of Philadelphia to execute a campaign to encourage census participation, as was Philanthropy Network's key partner in the Philly Counts 2020 Action Fund. In January 2021, Philly Counts released its final report, findings, and recommendations based on the work done in diverse communities across Philadelphia from December 2018 through October 2020. The report provides an overview of the multifaceted field plan, designed and executed by Philly Counts, that addressed individual and community outreach on the ground and engaged partner organizations, local leaders, and philanthropic supporters.

2020 Census & COVID-19

Many of the planned activities related to the 2020 Census were significantly impacted and delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, the Census Bureau released a 2020 Census Operational Adjustments Due to COVID-19. By law, the final census numbers were due by December 31, 2020, but the bureau missed that deadline for the first time since it was put in place in 1976. The most recent timeline indicates that the release date for the congressional apportionment data (used for determining seats in Congress) has been adjusted to April 30, 2021, and the redistricting data (used for redrawing congressional and legislative districts) is due to be delivered to states by September 30, 2021.


Background on Census 2020

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What's at Stake

The  decennial census not only ensures fair political representation, but it also determines the annual appropriation of more than $883 billion in federal funds to states. This means that what happens in this next census will have profound implications for every community in our commonwealth for the next decade.

According to researchers at George Washington University, in 2015 Pennsylvania received $26.79 billion dollars in federal grants ($2,093 per capita) that were allocated to 16 large federal assistance programs based on the census count. In FY2016, Pennsylvania received $39 billion through 55 federal spending programs guided by data derived from the 2010 Census.

The stakes in the 2020 census are especially high for Pennsylvania, which has been identified as the #2 state at risk of an undercount.  An analysis by Keystone Counts identified 1.2 million Pennsylvania households in 24 counties at high risk for an undercount; of those households, 35 percent (440, 000) are in Philadelphia (see map above)

Just a 1 percent undercount could cost Pennsylvania $400 million annually, or $3.9 billion over 10 years. Among the populations at highest risk for an undercount are people of color, immigrants, children under 18 years old, low-income and rural communities, and the homeless.

Unique Challenges for the 2020 Census

There are a number of factors that present a unique set of challenges for the 2020 census, including:

  • massive underfunding of the U.S. Census Bureau itself;
  • the shift to digital data collection, raising concerns about accuracy and cyber-security; and
  • a prevailing climate of fear and distrust of government.

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Funder Education & Action

Making the Case: Why the Census Matters to Philanthropy

The census will have a direct impact on every issue that funders care about for the next decade, and the window of opportunity to lay important groundwork to support a full and fair count is upon us. The articles below explain why the census is of critical importance to philanthropy, and why funders should do what they can to support get-out-the-count efforts.

Network Connections and Coordination

Philanthropy Network is working to do its part to ensure a fair and accurate count. Philanthropy Network President Sidney Hargro is participating on Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf's 2020 Census Complete Count Commission, as well as co-chairing the Corporate & Philanthropy Subcommittee of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney's Complete Count Committee, Philly Counts 2020. We are also working with local and statewide networks to ensure that the efforts of philanthropy and other key partners are informed and aligned for maximum efficiency.


Philanthropy Network presented a number of sessions to help funders learn about the importance of an accurate census and opportunities to get involved.

ANNUAL MEMBERS' MEETING [March 2019] The program at our 31st Annual Members' Meeting focused on the 2020 census - what it means to democracy and work of philanthropy, efforts underway here and nationally to support a full and fair count, and how funders can lend their support to this important effort.

WEBINARS: In partnership with our statewide colleaugues at Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania and NEPA Grantmakers Forum, we co-hosted two briefing webinars for Pennsylvania funders on the 2020 census:

MEMBER BRIEFING [December 2018] Philanthropy Network convened a group of regional funders to discuss the role of philanthropy in ensuring a fair and accurate 2020 census in Pennsylvania, and explore ideas for ways that regional funders might collaborate and coordinate efforts.

  • Presentation by Ann Torregrossa, Director, Pennsylvania Health Funders Collaborative who provided an overview on what's at stake for Pennsylvania in the 2020 census in terms of funding and representation; the geographic dispersement and challenges of reaching hard to count (HTC) populations in the state; and the need to activate county-based Complete Count Committees.
  • Presentation by Erin Casey, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Voice who provided background on the statewide efforts of Keystone Counts and their work to identify Pennsylvania's priority hard-to-count populations, and strategy to train and mobilize nonprofits to engage with their communities on this issue.

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Policy & Advocacy

PA State Funding

In May 2019, the Pennsylvania Census 2020 Complete Count Commission recommended that the commonwealth invest $1 per resident - a total of $12.8 million - for outreach and education to ensure a fair and accurate state count in the 2020 census. While Governor Wolf backed the proposal for public spending to support 2020 Census outreach, ultimately the Commonwealth 2019-20 budget did not include an allocation for census funding.

By Michaelle Bond for the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Citizenship Question

For the first time since 1950, the U.S. Census Bureau proposed that all U.S. residents answer a controversial citizenship question when completing the 2020 Census. The addition of the citizenship question proposed by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross resulted in more than a dozen lawsuits by states (including Pennsylvania), big cities and advocacy groups. According to research by the Pew Charitable Trusts, a U.S. Census Bureau survey suggested that a new citizenship question on the 2020 Census would be a “major barrier” to participation.

While legal battles dragged on for months, ultimately District Courts in California, Maryland and the Southern District of New York, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the Adminstration's rationale for including the citizenship question on the 2020 Census. Despite this positive outcome, President Trump has vowed to continue to seek avenues to provide states with citizenship data through alternative means—relying on Social Security, the Department of Homeland Security, and other government records -- in order to calculate the citizenship of people answering the census. 

Citizenship Question in the Media

Get Connected

For Funders

Funders Committee for Civic Participation – Funders Census Initiative (FCI) 2020 - The Funders Census Initiative (FCI) works to build strong support within philanthropy to ensure a fair and accurate decennial census count in 2020. The FCI 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, in this decade and beyond. By supporting grantmaker engagement on the census, FCI works to achieve a democracy where everybody counts because everyone is counted.

Keystone Counts Coalition -  Keystone Counts is a statewide coalition of advocacy groups, service providers, and community organizations representing communities across Pennsylvania who have joined together to build an education and outreach effort for a fair and accurate 2020 census. Learn more about who is already part of the coalition and how to get engaged.

Philly Counts 2020 - Philly Counts 2020 is the City of Philadelphia's effort to support the next U.S. Census. The program is guided by Mayor Kenney's Complete Count Committee, which provides recommendations and focuses on historically hard-to-count areas of the City. The Subcommittee on Corporations & Philanthropy is co-chaired by Sidney Hargro, President of Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia, and Daniel Hilferty, CEO of Independence Blue Cross. 

Pennsylvania Counts 2020 - The Pennsylvania State Data Center serves as a liaison between the State and Census Bureau and develops estimates and projections of Pennsylvania's population. This website provides important information about the state's role and participation on the decennial census.

For Businesses

ReadyNation: Business for the 2020 Census - ReadyNation (a project of Council for a Strong America) is a nonprofit, bipartisan business membership organization with 2,300+ members that supports business leaders to promote public policies and programs that build a stronger workforce and economy. ReadyNation offers a free, private listserv for all business people interested in learning more about the 2020 Census. There are no obligations, and members choose their level of participation. Learn more and sign-up.

Census Business Coalition - The Census Business Coalition (CBC) is a nonpartisan coalition comprised of American enterprises, associations, foundations, and business owners who recognize an accurate and secure census as an economic imperative, and commit to working together to educate their employees and customers as to the necessity of a successful 2020 census.

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Additional Resources

Census 2020 Webinar Recording: Why and How It Matters for Impact Investing - This Mission Investors Exchange 90-minute webinar deom 11/12/19 explored why and how foundations and other impact investors are mobilizing to get out the count for the 2020 Census. 

U.S. Census Bureau

HTC 2020 Map - Interactive map identifying hard to count (HTC) communities based on 2010 data; searchable by census tract, State/County, Congressional and State Legislative District -prepared  by CUNY Mapping Service at the Center for Urban Research, CUNY Graduate Center

Municipal Action Guide: Preparing for the 2020 Census - Prepared by the National League of Cities, this guide provides important information that city leaders need to know to prepare for the 2020 census and how they can help support a fair and accurate count

The Census Project -  A broad-based network of national, state, and local organizations that supports a fair and accurate 2020 census and comprehensive American Community Survey (ACS)  — the modern version of the census “long form."

The Leadership Conference coalition and Census Counts Campaign - A collaborative campaign led by The Leadership Conference Education Fund is working in more than 30 states and partnering with national organizations and stakeholders invested in a fair and accurate 2020 census.

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