On Wednesday, August 5, more than 500 leaders of nonpartisan philanthropic institutions, representing nearly every U.S. state and D.C., sent a letter to the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Commerce urging them not to cut the 2020 Census short. The letter responded to an August 3 announcement that the Census Bureau will halt field operations on September 30—a full month earlier than planned—despite previously extending the timeline to accommodate challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. As August began, nearly four in ten American households were yet to be counted.
The signatories call on the U.S. Department of Commerce and Census Bureau to uphold its constitutional responsibility to enumerate every household. "Across our varied institutions, we share a belief that reliable and accurate data are a necessary foundation for a well-functioning government, robust civil society, and thriving business sector in the United States," the letter reads. "Rushing the census would ... hurt a diverse range of rural and urban communities, leaving them underrepresented locally and in Congress and cutting their fair share of federal funding for Medicaid, economic development, child care, schools, road and public transit improvements, home heating assistance for senior citizens, and many more vital services."
The letter reflects an unprecedented consensus among national, state, and local grantmakers and philanthropic institutions that have collectively invested a total of more than $100 million to help ensure a fair and accurate census nationwide.