The 2020 Census Count goes on in Orange County despite COVID-19

Charitable Ventures, the State-designated Administrative Community-Based Organization (ACBO) focused on 2020 Census outreach in Orange County, is partnering with 77 local community-based organizations to reach and support our Hard-to-Count communities and ensure a fair and accurate count in our region. Through facilitation of the OC Census Community Table, in which nearly 350 organizations are taking part, Charitable Ventures is coordinating messaging around the Census and promoting Census education.

Since July 2019, Charitable Ventures has deployed more than $1.7M to the 77 organizations referenced above, using a mix of both public and private dollars. The California Complete Count Office – Census 2020 awarded a $1.8M contract to Charitable Ventures as the ACBO; additionally, Charitable Ventures, along with the Orange County Community Foundation and OC Grantmakers, raised $1.02M in private philanthropy to augment Census efforts.

The COVID-19 health crisis has dramatically impacted Census outreach and planning efforts. Canvassing and events have been suspended and cancelled, respectively. US Census Bureau field operations are suspended until April 1. Questionnaire Assistance Centers have closed. Instead, nonprofits are focusing on in-language phone banking and digital outreach. It’s a tremendous pivot from the plans that have been carefully curated over the past 18 months to two years. However, the nonprofits providing outreach are more determined than ever to reach an accurate count.

The U.S. Census, which is required by the U.S. Constitution every 10 years, is our country’s only fully-inclusive opportunity for civic participation to determine how power and money are distributed across America. Data gathered in this nine-question survey is used by government, businesses and nonprofits to determine funding and political representation for the next decade.

When it comes to this year’s Census, Orange County has a lot to gain… and a lot to lose:

  • In 2020, each person counted represents $20,000 over the next 10 years that will—or won’t—go into our community programs, including healthcare, schools, affordable housing, parks, playgrounds, libraries, bus lines, road repair, safety, nutrition programs, and emergency services
  • In 2020, for the first time ever, California is in real danger of losing a seat in the House of Representatives
  • Everyone—regardless of citizenship or immigration status—has the right to get counted

Historically, a number of communities have been undercounted in Orange County, including people of color, children under age 5, individuals experiencing homelessness, veterans and more, costing the region millions in lost resources

Mary Anne Foo, Founder and Executive Director of OCAPICA (Orange County Asian Pacific Islander Community Alliance) and co-chair of the OC Census Executive Team said, “We know everyone is focused on COVID-19 and rightly so. But the Census is a health care issue – and people need to know that, especially in a time like this. Not only do Census results determine how healthy and vibrant our communities are for the next 10 years (think hospitals, schools, roads and more), the Census determines how much each state gets of the $300 billion in federal aid allotted annually for health care.”

Miguel Hernandez, Executive Director of OCCCO (Orange County Congregation Community Organization) and co-chair of the OC Census Executive Team shared, “Our communities are in great need right now, especially our Hard-to-Count communities. People are losing their jobs, scrambling for alternative childcare, and running out of food. OCCCO, OCAPICA, and our entire Census coalition – all of our community-based partners – are doing our best to make sure we are responding to immediate needs and integrating our Census outreach. Because we need an accurate Census count now more than ever; a complete count will help ensure urgent resources for the future. We urge everyone in Orange County to take a few minutes to fill out the Census today.”

As of March 24, 2020, Orange County is reporting a 26.7% rate of self-response. To learn more about local Census efforts, please visit www.occensus.org.

This article was released by Charitable Ventures.

Logo for OC Counts 2020 Census in public domain