2020 Census

At a glance

  • We have a once-in-a-decade opportunity to unlock billions of dollars in federal funds for our region over the next 10 years.
  • That can't happen without efforts to ensure our hardest to count populations are represented. 
  • COVID-19 has put hard-to-count communities further at risk of going uncounted. 
NOTE: The deadline for the 2020 Census has officially been extended. Keep up to date with the evolving status here.

Census data impact us all.

Census Bureau data determines the level of funding allocation to over 130 federal programs operating in local communities, to apportion Congressional representation, and to make decisions like business expansions and school siting. Business market research? You’re using Census data. Nonprofit service demographics? You’re using Census data. Subsidized housing, transportation, CalFresh, workforce development services and programs critical for a healthy community and thriving economy all rely on an accurate count.

There are populations at risk of being uncounted.

Census experts have identified California as one of the hardest-to-count states because of the high proportion of hard-to-count communities who live here. San Diego and Imperial Counties are home to more than 250,000 hard to count individuals (and by some counts, that number is as high as 783,000). For every 25,000 residents not counted our region could lose $50 million per year in federal support. An undercount of just 3% costs us half a billion dollars over the next decade. Moreover, when people aren’t counted in US Census data, it creates a statistical erasure of entire populations. If they do not show up on the Census, they will not show up in the innumerous places Census data is used. An inaccurate 2020 Census count in California undermines fundamental aspects of our representative democracy, threatens the state’s access to vital federal dollars, and perpetuates political inequality. 

Hardest to count communities include:

Grassroots organizations can change this. 

Community based organizations are the trusted messengers whose relationships will authentically reach hard to count communities and support them in responding to the 2020 Census. A coalition of more than 100 community based organizations have come together to develop a comprehensive outreach strategy and have already embarked on civic engagement activities to connect with their constituents about the census, for the most part un-or under-compensated.

Count Me 2020 Census Fund

San Diego Grantmakers, in partnership with United Way of San Diego County, established the Count Me 2020 Census Fund of San Diego and Imperial Counties to bring together pooled and strategically aligned philanthropic dollars to complement State funds already being deployed in our community. The State funds dedicated to community organizations require administrative qualifications most grassroots organizations are unlikely to meet (i.e. have a fulltime staff). The  fund provides the flexibility grassroots partners critically need to do their work.

These funds are administered by San Diego Grantmakers through a steering committee comprised of community members directly involved with “hard to count” (HTC) populations and/or knowledgeable about Census outreach. Feedback from the community and organizations conducting Census outreach was incorporated in the grant priorities and decision-making process.

A total of $390,000 of funds were made possible through support from Alliance Healthcare Foundation, Blue Shield of California Foundation, Silver Giving Foundation, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Dr. Bronner's Family Foundation. We received a total of 41 applications and awarded 19 grants. 

The following organizations were awarded flexible funding to support efforts to ensure our hardest to count communities are counted:

Grants Committee
The grant decision committee is made up of people directly involved in Census outreach in HTC communities. We believe connection to the work and communities is critical to effectively distributing funds. No one is prohibited from participating (including those seeking funding), but all will be required to identify their connections (in other contexts this would be called a conflict of interest) and how they engage/speak will be appropriately adjusted. The conflict of interest policy is available to download at the bottom of this webpage. All committee members must participate in every meeting in order to participate in the grants decision-making.

Committee members
Dhalia Balmir, BAPAC San Diego
Griselda Ramirez, Mid-City CAN
John Highkin, Fern Street Circus
Laila Aziz, Pillars of the Community San Diego
Luisa Montes, YMCA Community Support Services
Michele Silverthorn, United Way of San Diego County
Rebekah Hook-Held, San Diego LGBT Community Center

To learn more, please contact:


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