RBF Joins New York Foundations Calling on Governor Cuomo to Support Census Outreach

  • A census worker visits residents to increase awareness about the Census, verify addresses, and answer questions in 2010.
    A census worker visits residents to increase awareness about the Census, verify addresses, and answer questions in 2010.
    Credit: U.S. Census Bureau, Public Information Office

On Friday, February 8, more than 30 foundations sent a letter to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo highlighting the importance of state support for Census outreach and education to ensure an accurate and fair count in 2020.

Signers represent a wide range of philanthropic institutions from large national foundations like the Ford Foundation, NoVo Foundation, and Rockefeller Brothers Fund, to local foundations that have deep place-based roots including the Altman Foundation, Scherman Foundation, and Community Foundation of Tompkins County. Leaders understand that whether their foundations support education, arts, environment, human services, or social justice, all New Yorkers will suffer the direct effects of a Census undercount.

An undercount in New York would mean the loss of billions in federal appropriations and diminished Congressional representation. And the 2020 Census already faces a range of obstacles, including: increased suspicion and concerns about privacy in hard-to-reach populations especially among immigrant communities, fewer federal resources being directed to outreach and testing, and untested technologies being used for the Census. New York’s congressional representation could also shrink from 27 to 25 seats.

“With the number of obstacles the federal government has put in the way, the state must take the lead in providing resources to support trusted community-based organizations that can get the word out about the importance of every New Yorker being counted. We cannot stand by and let the 2020 Census fail,” Maria Mottola, executive director of the New York Foundation, said in a statement.

This letter follows one sent by community foundations across the state recognizing how much is at stake and urging the state to take the proper steps to make sure that all New Yorkers are counted in 2020. Some of the signatories are members of the New York State Census Equity Fund, which was created in 2018 and aims to: direct more than $3 million from foundation and individual donors to ensure New York’s hardest to count populations are properly represented; coordinate philanthropic Census-related activities with appropriate government entities; and promote broader civic engagement around redistricting after the Census is complete.