The Census is mandated under the US Constitution in Article 1, Section 2. Census data is used to:

1. Determine the number of seats in the House of Representatives, electoral votes, and redistricting

2. Calculate federal aid to state governments. State and local governments use Census data to redistribute federal aid to support essential services.

3. Plan business and community services, public health initiatives, philanthropic investments, etc.

While the US Census Bureau conducts its systematic count of the population every 10 years, the Census bureau collects and distributes annual data used by nearly every sector for planning purposes. The American Community Service (ACS) data is Census data and it helps community leaders, business, government officials to understand trends and changes in local communities. It is the premier source of comprehensive population and housing information.

WHAT's at Stake?


The federal government will distribute $675 billion to state governments based on the 2020 Census data. Based on the 2010 Census data, NY receives $53.2 billion dollars each year to pay for vital community resources and programs. The federal distribution is currently as follows:

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A Closer look at 2020:

  • The Census is going on-line for the first time and new fears about cyber security are real. For those who don’t want to complete an on-line form, participation over the phone will be an option. There are additional concerns about the lack of participation in communities with poor internet access.

  • The federal government has allocated less money to conduct the Census in 2020. The impact of this has already been felt: there will be a reduced number of regional offices overseeing the Complete Count work, the three field-tests were reduced to one, and the communications strategy has been delayed.

  • National rhetoric that vilifies immigrants may instill fear in some groups and deter them from completing Census questionnaires.

What can philanthropy do to support Census 2020?

  • Understand, support, and help coordinate local organizations who will support complete count mobilization efforts

  • Help and support create local and/or state Complete Count Committee(s)

  • Encourage local and state government to provide funding for complete count work

  • Engage businesses in discussions about the Census and ask for their support

  • Convene other funders in your region to understand and support Census activities

  • Organize grantees and support collaborative efforts to support Census

New York State Legislation Focused on Census 2020

New York Coalitions/Advocates Supporting Efforts Around Census 2020

  • Engage New York

  • Philanthropy New York

  • New York Funders Alliance

  • New York Civic Engagement Table

  • NY Counts 2020

  • New York Immigration Coalition

Foundations Supporting Complete Count Efforts in New York:

  • Brooklyn Community Foundation

  • Central New York Community Foundation

  • The Dyson Foundation

  • Ford Foundation

  • JP Morgan Chase

  • Long Island Community Foundation

  • New York Community Trust

  • New York Foundation

  • New York Women’s Foundation

  • Sherman Foundation

  • Westchester Community Foundation

Resources for Census 2020:


Data Sources