By Susan Racher, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation and Florida Counts Census
Once each decade, the U.S. Census Bureau attempts to count every person in the United States which is quite the undertaking. The next enumeration is set to begin on April 1st and will be the first to rely heavily on online responses
instead of by mail. The census is conducted every 10 years as mandated in the U.S. Constitution and the data collected is used to distribute billions of dollars in federal funds to state and local government and determines the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Each year roughly $1.5 trillion in federal funding is effectively allocated based on population data from the census, including key investments in the economy such as infrastructure, transportation, the arts, education, elder care and children’s programs. In addition, information from the U.S. Census Bureau is used to ensure proper distribution of political representation. For example, Florida could potentially gain two Congressional seats based on the 2020 count.
Participating in the census is in everyone’s best interest because the more accurate the count, the more federal dollars the state of Florida will receive in order to drive its economy
Florida Counts Census 2020 is a statewide philanthropic initiative formed by eight 501(c)(3) nonprofit nonpartisan organizations throughout the state of Florida seeking to raise $2 million dollars that will be invested to support a complete and accurate census count for our state.
In early 2020, the state of Florida announced the designation of Florida’s 2020 Census Statewide Complete Count Committee who will coordinate with the U.S. Census Bureau to ensure Floridians are accurately reflected in the federal count. Complete Count Committees provide state and local leadership; however, an accurate census depends on the outreach of grassroots organizations who are ‘trusted voices’ in their communities.
These organizations’ grassroots outreach is essential to assuring an accurate count and to do this work they need direct grant funding for staff, materials, computers and training. Many state and local governments throughout the U.S. have allocated this type of grass roots grant funding as part of their census budgets; this has proved to be a best practice in assuring the count of hard to reach communities.
In Florida, so far, Florida Counts Census 2020 philanthropic group has taken on this role given the paucity of state and local funding to do this work. The Census Bureau does not fund this type of outreach and in Florida no funds have
been allocated. The Florida Counts Census 2020 fundraising efforts hopes to fill this gap.
As of January, Florida Counts Census 2020 team has raised more than $1 million in philanthropic funds for Census 2020 outreach in Florida and awarded its first round of grants, more than $300,000, to 17 community-based organizations throughout the state of Florida in 18 Florida counties ad- dressing children, youth, millennials, young adults and seniors of all ethnic groups in Florida. However, the organization is still in need of another $1 million to support a complete and accurate census count.
The group is asking for donors, businesses and individuals to contribute to their fundraising efforts so that key community nonprofits can be trained and have resources to conduct vital outreach in the months preceding the census.
It was estimated that Florida relinquished approximately $20 Billion in the last Census by not counting all its residents, and in the 2010 census, Florida had the 3rd largest number of omissions. The money raised by Florida Counts Census 2020 group will help pay for a more complete count with the help of community, faith-based and nonprofit organizations in Florida.
As the third largest and fourth fastest growing state in the country, an accurate count is essential for Florida to receive its fair share of federal funding, which is 1/3 of Florida’s total revenue.
The eight 501(c)(3) non-partisan organizations spearheading Florida Counts Census 2020 initiative are: Wallace H. Coulter Foundation (WHCF), Florida Philanthropic Network, Florida Nonprofit Alliance, Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties, Florida C3 Civic Engagement Table, Urban League of Broward County, The New Florida Majority and Ventus Charitable Foundation.
Florida Counts Census 2020 is one of many state philanthropic and nonprofit initiatives to improve the census count in its home state.
For more information on or to contribute to the work of Florida Counts Census 2020, please visit www.FLcounts.com.