Last week a millennial asked me if the 2010 census was viewed through the lens of partisan politics. While my response was a resounding “no,” I reflected on the divisive discourses currently taking place in the nation, and understand why the 2020 Census might be viewed as a partisan exercise by the generations coming of age. The census is not a political endeavor but one of our most important civic and democratic practices. The U.S. Constitution requires a complete count of the nation’s population every 10 years.
The census is one of the very cornerstones of our democracy. It is America’s largest civic activity, and has been conducted every 10 years since 1790. The detailed demographic data collected via the census shapes other federal data surveys, including the American Community Survey. An accurate, complete Census is essential to our work and our communities. State and local governments, businesses, nonprofits and foundations, rely on census data to allocate funding, define where services are delivered, and ultimately promote thriving neighborhoods. This vital information informs the philanthropic sector’s grantmaking, as well as the service providers’ problem-solving efforts.
Sanctioned by the Council’s Board in early 2018, CNJG took up the mantle to champion the 2020 Census recognizing philanthropy’s crucial role in supporting efforts to ensure a full and accurate census in New Jersey. We’re working with a number of partners including United Philanthropy Forum, the Funders’ Census Initiative, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees,The Leadership Conference, and a host of others to provide information and education about Census 2020. We created a dedicated area on the CNJG website with websites to visit, resources to use, webinars to watch, and articles to read. The most recent addition comes from the Fund for New Jersey, who has developed a checklist outlining how your foundation can get started today to support Census 2020. As a result of our partnerships, we’ve been able to offer members an array of webinars focused on various aspects of the Census. The next webinar is 2020 Census Funders Learning Series: Effective Strategies for Business Engagement on May 13. We also share news and disseminate information about the census every month in our e-publication For the Field.
Building on our commitment to keep members informed, we’re extremely excited and proud that the 2019 New Jersey Conference for the Social Sector in June will focus exclusively on Census 2020: Defining the Next 10 Years. The full day conference will feature an opening plenary providing a comprehensive update on the Census and an exploration of the ways in which the philanthropic sector can leverage resources to ensure an accurate count; a discussion of the challenges to a fair count; a conversation on the potential undercount of children; a panel on opportunities for action; and a luncheon plenary featuring a keynote address by Arturo Vargas, Chief Executive Officer, NALEO Educational Fund. We’re still seeking support for this important gathering – more information about sponsorship may be found here.
I look forward to seeing you at the CNJG Conference on June 11, where together we’ll learn more about how to ensure a full, fair and accurate 2020 Census that supports a healthy and robust democracy. In the meantime, check out this video from the Census Bureau – I hope it will inspire you to Shape Your Future.
Maria Vizcarrondo, President and CEO
Council of New Jersey Grantmakers