Census data have major implications for federal funding of public programs, and an accurate count is vital for any effort to achieve health equity.
Census data determine legislative and jurisdictional districts for years to come and are used to allocate more than a trillion dollars in federal funds for health care, housing, education, and many services and programs.
As decisions about the 2030 Census are being made now, it’s important to look back on the challenges of the 2020 Census to understand philanthropy’s critical role, and why it matters to an equitable future:
The 2020 Census was the first Census that was planned to be primarily conducted online.
In the months leading up to Census data collection, the federal government cut the Census budget and sought to add a question on citizenship to the Census.
The pandemic shutdowns created major challenges for data collection efforts and shortened the data collection period.
Philanthropy's’ involvement helped avert problems by investing in information campaigns, providing evidence on legal briefs on the citizenship question, and other interventions. Despite the significant changes, the 2020 Census saw a half point higher self-response rate than the 2010 Census.
The report concludes that preparation for the 2030 Census should start now and involve many collaborators and investments in infrastructural initiatives. It includes recommendations on how to create favorable conditions for collaborative engagement across a diverse set of national, state, regional and local organizations and funders, impactful investment to support Census-related efforts, and ultimately for a full, fair and accurate 2030 Census.
About This Report
This report is about a group of foundations that formed the Census Subgroup in 2015 to address concerns about the then upcoming 2020 census. It tracks the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) evolution as a supporter of Census campaign efforts. Through these findings, and with an investment of $11.5 million, RWJF hopes to help other philanthropic organizations see the connection between Census policies and practices and health equity, and see how a full, fair, and accurate Census is fundamental to mission-driven objectives.
Better Data for Better Health
Explore public health data for analysis of the many factors that shape health, and community efforts to achieve better health for all.
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