Census 2020


The East Bay Community Foundation is utilizing our unique position as an intermediary between government, philanthropy, community, and business to coordinate and advocate for an effective communal response that ensures a thorough Census 2020 count of every individual in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.


As required by the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 2), every 10 years our nation gets just one chance to count its population. Although this may seem like a trivial matter, obtaining an accurate population count is important for two critical reasons. First, the census count determines the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives and voting district lines. Second, and importantly, this data is also used to distribute billions in federal funds to local communities. Pending the outcome of the 2020 Census, at risk is more than $675 billion in annual, federal funding over the course of the next decade. California receives more than $76 billion of funding per year based on Census data. These funds provide critical safety net services for our communities such as Childcare Programs, Medicare, SNAP, Section 8, and more.

Census data also provides critical social and economic data that is used by the business community to forecast consumer demand, factor-in strategic long-term planning to develop products relevant to regional demographics and economic conditions, and to provide equal opportunities that foster compliance with Federal Law. An inaccurate or under-count will have a negative impact on historically underserved communities, contributing to a vicious cycle of poverty-inducing circumstances.


While successfully conducting an accurate count has always been a difficult task, Census 2020 stands to be one of the most difficult in the census’s 230-year history as it will require counting an increasingly diverse and growing population of ~ 330 million people in more than 140 million housing units. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) projects a 17% drop in self-reporting across the United States, due to the unprecedented challenges listed below.

California Hard-to-Count Interactive Map

  • The inclusion of a citizenship question designed to intimidate and incite fear and skepticism among minority communities. As legal challenges to the citizenship question move forward to the Supreme Court, immigrant communities have already articulated reticence towards Census participation with or without the citizenship question.
  • The first online census is prompting public concerns about internet accessibility, computer literacy, and hacking; in addition to concerns around lack of broadband access and comfort with digital platforms.
  • Inadequate funding, preparation, and staff support for the Census bureau. The Census Bureau canceled the first two practice counts and only recently appointed a new Director.
  • An increase in unconventional, untraditional housing units, particularly in areas like the East Bay impacted by high housing costs and limited housing supply.
  • A significant number of hard-to-count communities concentrated in the East Bay. In three East Bay legislative districts, 20% or more of census tracts are considered very hard to count. Examples of hard-to-count populations include: young children, immigrants, renters, overcrowded households, and households without computer or internet access.


The goal of obtaining a full and accurate count is best accomplished through a strategic partnership between local government and community-based organizations, as these groups are in trusting relationships with traditionally hard-to-count populations. The East Bay Community Foundation has set a goal of raising $1.5 million dollars to invest directly into local, community-based organizations with demonstrated capacity and relationships to provide education and conduct outreach that conveys the importance of Census 2020 and supports residents in completing their census forms.


Join us in protecting the vital interests of our communities by using your voice to educate your community about the Census and encourage all people to participate.

Make a Call 
Contact your local officials and encourage them to get involved in Census activities.

Make a Donation
Consider making a financial contribution to the EBCF Census 2020 fund to support trusted community-based organizations who will work directly with hard-to-count populations to obtain a full count in 2020.


For more information about Census 2020, contact Amy Fitzgerald at afitzgerald@eastbaycf.org.