2020 Census

The Count Me 2020 Census Fund of San Diego and Imperial Counties

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 ten years.
  • That can't happen without efforts to ensure our hardest to count populations are represented. 
  • We are seeking grant support for a pooled fund for grassroots outreach to hard-to-count populations. 


Count Me 2020 Census Fund

The application period is closed. Applications were received from 41 groups in San Diego & Imperial Counties.

Grant decisions will be announced and posted here by the end of February 2020.

The Count Me 2020 Census Fund of San Diego and Imperial Counties brings together philanthropic dollars to complement State funds already being deployed in our community. These funds will be 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 $365,000 is currently available, made possible through support from Alliance Healthcare Foundation, Blue Shield of California Foundation, Silver Giving Foundation, and San Diego Gas & Electric. The number and size of grants will depend on applications received. We anticipate significantly more applications than funds available.

Please do not hesitate to contact Megan Thomas ([email protected] or 858-875-3332). We are happy to answer questions and provide feedback on your proposal and will respond as soon as possible.

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


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.

We need your help to make this happen. 

San Diego Grantmakers, in partnership with United Way of San Diego County, has established the Count Me 2020 Census Fund of San Diego and Imperial Counties to bring together $3 million in 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 $3 million fund will provide the flexibility grassroots partners critically need to do their work.

An investment now in community outreach will decide between a future in which philanthropy is called upon to fill increasingly large gaps, or presented the opportunity to spark strategic change on the foundation of a well-funded region. 

To get involved, please contact:

Additional Resources for Philanthropy and the 2020 Census

Fact sheets and information about the hard-to-count communities in San Diego and Imperial Counties - compiled by The Advancement Project

Resources for Making it Count: Philanthropy and the 2020 Census - Webinar on February 13, 2019

Everyone Counts! How Community Foundations are Connecting to the 2020 Census - The U.S. Census determines billions of dollars in critical funding for our local communities. Unfortunately, those who are most at-risk to go uncounted are often those most in need of the support federal dollars connected to Census data provide. Ensuring an accurate count requires all of us. Review slides from a recent webinar with CF Leads where SDG's president and CEO, Debbie McKeon, spoke about her experience building awareness and support for Census 2020, and explored ways all funders can get engaged.

See the list of organizations that have been funded to do 2020 Census work in this region.

More ways to get involved

We invite all of SDGs' members and other funders in the region to join us in support of an accurate census count.  

  • Join us at an educational program for funders 
  • Join a collaborative funding effort to support local organizations 
  • Support San Diego Grantmakers
  • Contact us with questions or to discuss your interest 

Helpful Links