Washington Census Alliance grants $3M to organizations in historically undercounted communities, prepares for census in face of COVID-19

SEATTLE (March 12, 2020) – As the 2020 Census gets underway, the Washington Census Alliance (WCA) today announced it is granting an additional $1 million to encourage participation in the census by people in historically undercounted communities. By Census Day, April 1, it will have awarded grants totaling over $3 million since 2019 to more than 70 organizations of color and tribes across more than 20 counties in Washington state.

Organizations can still apply for funding from the Washington Census Alliance through March 15 via surveymonkey.com/r/washingtoncensusalliancefundingapplication.

“Communities of color bear the brunt of less funding and political representation as a result of an undercount, and that is exactly why they are the ones we want leading this effort,” said Kamau Chege, manager of the Washington Census Alliance. “To assuage the fear and confusion lingering around the census among historically undercounted communities, we’re putting funding where it can be most effective: in the hands of the organizations and leaders in those communities.”

In this latest round of funding, Na’ah Illahee Fund, a founding member of the Washington Census Alliance, will receive $347,000 to regrant to tribes and Native-led nonprofit organizations.

Another $300,000 is being deployed to 2019 WCA grantees to increase census outreach capacity, and more than $350,000 in grants will be awarded to new organizations through an open RFP application.

Funding for the grants come from the Office of Financial Management’s Census Education and Outreach program, in partnership with the Seattle Foundation, Na’ah Illahee Fund, Latino Community Fund, and Washington Progress Fund.

Between March 6 and 8, 250 community organizers, nonprofit leaders, and elected officials from around the state attended the WCA’s Spring Convening in Tacoma to share challenges and best practices for conducting census outreach to historically undercounted communities. Lack of translated outreach materials, distrust of government, and widely dispersed households in rural communities are just a few of the reasons that a complete census count is challenging in some communities.

COVID-19 response Meanwhile, the spread of COVID-19 in Washington state introduces new challenges.

As in-person outreach and large public events are increasingly being canceled, WCA members are pivoting their outreach to leveraging ethnic media channels and creating social media content that resonates with their local communities.

The WCA is also introducing an interactive text-messaging tool that organizations can customize and use to engage community members remotely. By texting “Census” or “Censo” to 332020, people can engage in conversation, get their questions answered, connect to resources, and opt in for regular reminders and updates about the census.

As of February 2020, WCA grantees and members have recruited and trained more than 450 Trusted Messengers and engaged over 8,300 households across the state in one-on-one conversations, and these figures continue to increase every day. With this new round of funding, the WCA is on track to recruit more than 600 Trusted Messengers and engage more than 12,000 households by Census Day, April 1.

“With a decade of resources and representation at stake, addressing the historic undercount of people of color is essential to an equitable future for our state,” said Aaron Robertson, managing director, Policy & Civic Engagement at the Seattle Foundation. “Seattle Foundation is proud to support the Washington Census Alliance, ensuring our outreach is done in community, by community.”

2019 Washington Census Alliance grantees
Na’ah Illahee Fund; Nooksack Indian Tribe; Cowlitz Indian Tribe ; UIATF (United Indians of All Tribes Foundation); Quinault Indian Nation; American Indian Community Center ; Lummi Nation; Tlingit and Haida Washington Chapter; Yakama Nation; Spokane Tribe of Indians ; Swinomish Indian Tribal Community ; Haida Heritage Foundation ; Unkitawa ; Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe; Upper Skagit Indian Tribe ; Suquamish Tribe; Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation; Jamestown S’klallam; Port Gamble S’klallam ; Hazel Pete Institute of Chehalis Basketry; Whitney Lewis; Ndn Girl Spirit Boy Creations; Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women Washington; Allottees Association and Affiliated Tribes of the Quinault Reservation ; Tana Stobs Canoe Family ; Native Unite in Journey ; Latino Community Fund; Casa Latina; Entre Hermanos; Raiz of Planned Parenthood; Latinos En Spokane; Casa Hogar; Nuestra Casa; CAFE (Community for the Advancement of Family Education); Community to Community; OneAmerica; Para Los Niños de Highline; El Centro de la Raza; Yakama-Yakima El Censo; Friends of the Black Lens/Carl Maxey Center; LGBTQ Allyship; The Noble Foundation; SW WA Communities United for Change; CIRCC (Coalition of Immigrants, Refugees and Communities of Color); Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle; Equal Rights Washington; Latinos Unidos of South Sound; Tri-Cities League of United Latin American Citizens; Korean Community Service Center; Congolese Integration Network; Eastside Refugee and Immigrant Coalition; Khmer Anti-Deportation Advocacy Group; Northwest Kenyan Community Association; Muslim Community and Neighborhood Association; Cair WA ; APIC-SPS (Asian Pacific Islander Coalition of South Puget Sound); APIC-YKM (Asian Pacific Islander Coalition of Yakima); APACEVotes (Asian Pacific-Islander America Civic Empowerment Votes) ; Wakulima; Eritrean Association in Greater Seattle; Channel A-TV; Somali Family Safety Task Force; Iraqi Community Center of Washington; PEARS (People Empowerment and Renewal Services); Ethiopian Community in Seattle

The Washington Census Alliance is a statewide coalition of 60 organizations led by and working in communities of color. It advocates for the unique needs of our communities. Together, we’re launching an unprecedented relational organizing campaign to ensure that historically undercounted communities throughout Washington state are counted in the 2020 census.

Courtesy of the Washington Census Alliance

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