New York, NY (April 20, 2021) – The New York State Census Equity Fund—a collaborative fund in The New York Community Trust that gathered financial commitments and unprecedented cooperation among 37 institutional donors—today released a new report that evaluates its three-year, $3.6-million effort to ensure a fair and full count of New Yorkers statewide in the 2020 census.
The new report also outlines recommendations for future collaborations around the 2030 Census.
“With the delayed release of 2020 census data, New York must wait to learn if our collaborative fund’s efforts helped save a congressional seat and prevented the loss of billions in federal dollars over the next decade,” said Patricia Swann, senior program officer for civic affairs at The New York Community Trust. “In the meantime, this report evaluates how the fund operated and looks at the lessons learned for the 2030 census and for philanthropic support of other statewide organizing.”
The Fund awarded 124 grants to 120 organizations across the state, including the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island. “The grant allowed us to organize a diverse group of nonprofits across sectors that catalyzed participation despite the enormous hurdles we faced last year,” said Rebecca Sanin, the president and CEO of the Council. “While the funding focused on increasing census participation, we also were able to build stronger partnerships that will improve health and human services and community sustainability across Long Island.”
The report found that most of the Fund’s institutional donors had no prior experience with the census. In addition to their contributions to the Fund, about three-quarters of Fund members made grants to support Get Out the Count efforts, totaling at least $1.24 million. A majority of the grantee partners also had no prior experience with previous decennial census efforts. About two-thirds of grantees conducted census outreach with modest support—$50,000 or less from all funding sources. For many, especially upstate grantees, the Fund was their only funding for census work.
The report details the Fund’s working relationships with the U.S. Census Bureau, national funder collaboratives, New York State government, local governments and Complete Count Committees, and key organizations such as New York Counts 2020 and New York Civic Engagement Table.
It also makes recommendations for statewide funder collaborations generally and for census 2030 funding support. They include:
The 80-page report, New York State Census Equity Fund: Documentation & Evaluation Report, produced by Seema Shah, Ph.D., of Comm/Veda Consulting, is available online and in print upon request.
In releasing the evaluation publicly, the Fund’s steering committee continues its efforts to be as transparent as possible, sharing both the successes and challenges encountered along the way.
“We hope that this report will serve as a guide for anyone who wants to create this kind of complex, statewide grantmaking operation,” said Allie Urbanski, program officer of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.
The New York Community Trust officially launched the Census Equity Fund in June 2018, following a year of planning among many funders from across the state. Ten of the 37 institutional donors were community foundations. The others were private, public, and corporate foundations.
Much of the Fund’s efforts centered on raising and distributing monies across the state with the aim of ensuring that the hardest-to-count populations received and understood messages about the impact of household census completion on the well-being of people’s communities. In addition to grantmaking, the report documents the Fund’s other important roles: Providing census education and awareness for funders and grantees; building Complete Count Committees and other partnerships with community, government, and business leaders; and advocating for a fair and accurate count.
The document reports the priorities and procedures by which the Fund awarded $3.2 million for 124 grants to 120 organizations, ranging in size from $350 to $100,000. The awards were distributed through four rounds of grantmaking between May 2019 and August 2020. The initial round of grantmaking began with larger organizations that could lay the groundwork for Get Out The Count efforts, providing training and support for smaller organizations, and working at the statewide or regional level. Subsequent rounds were increasingly targeted at small, grassroots organizations using a regional approach based on data about where response rates were lagging. The Fund is now pivoting to redistricting, which is the first significant use of the census data.
About The New York State Census Equity Fund
The New York State Census Equity Fund was established in 2018 in The New York Community Trust to ensure coverage of the State’s hard-to-count communities in the 2020 census and to extend community-based organizations’ level of civic engagement into the redistricting process. Thus far, the Fund has raised over $3.6 million from more than 37 foundations, as well as multiple individual donors, and continues to raise funds and make grants to advance redistricting integrity in New York State. For more information on this and other collaborative funds at the Trust, go to https://www.nycommunitytrust.org/results/collaborative-funds/
About The New York Community Trust
The New York Community Trust connects past, present, and future generous New Yorkers with vital nonprofits working to make a healthy, equitable, and thriving community for all. It is a public grantmaking foundation dedicated to improving the lives of residents of New York City, Westchester, and Long Island. For more information, visit us at nycommunitytrust.org.