California Foundations Give $9 Million to Boost Census Participation

California Foundations Give $9 Million to Boost Census Participation

With the California government strapped for cash, a group of approximately twenty private foundations has awarded $9 million for outreach efforts designed to help ensure a more accurate count of Californians in the 2010 census, the reports.

Although the once-a-decade count of every American is fast approaching, California has little money to spend to ensure that all its residents are counted. Indeed, the state has designated approximately $2 million for outreach for the census, compared to $11 million in 2000. Because census results are used to draw the boundaries of congressional districts and to determine how much federal money cities and counties will get over the next decade for programs such as food stamps, school lunches, and housing vouchers, the stakes are high.

In response to the shortfall, a group of funders that includes the and the , , , , and foundations awarded grants to more than 125 community organizations that have connections to or work with individuals the has had difficulty counting in the past. The list of hard-to-reach residents includes immigrants who do not speak English, college students, people who live in crowded or inaccessible housing, people who move frequently, and those who might be wary of authorities.

"It's really unprecedented in terms of all of us coordinating and chipping in," said Cathy Cha, senior program officer for immigrant rights and integration at the Haas Fund. "We are funding a lot of networks of trusted messengers who can get the word out. Those are the kinds of relationships the government doesn't do well."

Matt O'Brien. "." Contra Costa Times 12/27/2009.